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How to Spot a Fake Rolex: The Ultimate Guide

Rolex GMT-Master II 126711CHNR ROOT BEER

How to Spot a Fake Rolex: The Ultimate Guide

Rolex is the most well-known luxury brand in the world. It has established an enormously powerful brand that people from all age groups know as one of the most luxurious watch brands in the world.

Known for its precision timepieces, and for being a reliable piece of jewelry which keeps ticking generation after generation, Rolex has become the ultimate symbol of success and luxury.

Unfortunately, though, Rolex’s immense popularity has also made it the most replicated watch brand in the world. 

Some of the many Rolex watches you may see on the street or on someone’s wrist may very well be fake, but most importantly, is that you are careful when buying Rolex watches. The best way to protect yourself from buying fake Rolex watches is by buying from trusted sources like Millenary Watches.

Rolex Submariner 116613LN

However, if you still decide to buy a Rolex watch from less reputable sellers, you need to know the tells of a fake Rolex watch so you can avoid losing your money.

Spotting a fake Rolex ultimately depends on knowing what to look for. The more Rolex watches you hold and see, the better you will become at noticing things that are not the way they should. 

While many of the counterfeiters have improved their manufacturing processes in order to make their watches as close to the real deal as possible, there is still nothing like an authentic Rolex.

When you look at a Rolex watch, you want to have as a starting point that Rolex has no imperfections. Rolex watches are made to absolute perfection with no mistakes or imperfections. Sure, small imperfections can happen some authentic Rolex watches to a small extent, but not in the same way as counterfeit watches.

Counterfeiters, on the other hand, are not able to achieve, the same perfection as Rolex, and compromise on quality and materials. This is where you can tell the real from the fakes. Have in mind that Rolex has perfected its manufacturing process for more than 100 years, and invested hundreds and hundreds of millions in development and research. Counterfeiters, however, can never come anywhere near that. After all, that’s what makes the counterfeit watches so cheap.

The quality varies

The fact is that the quality of fake Rolex watches varies a lot.

The worst fake Rolex watches are the easiest to spot, and these can often be seen from miles away. Often times, these watches are models that Rolex has never ever made. They often have misspellings, and overall just an extremely low quality similar to a watch that would cost a maximum of a hundred euros. In other words terrible finish and build quality.

For example, it can be a watch that is meant to replicate a Datejust model, but the printing on the dial says ”Day-Date”.

These watches are not really a huge problem in the world of watches. Of course, they are illegal as they are meant to replicate the real deal, but it does not take a lot of expertise or experience to know that they are fake.

But then, we have the more problematic fake Rolex watches. These tend to have a relatively high build finish and often have all the small details that real Rolex watches do. These are more problematic as it demands a more trained eye in order to identify them.

In order to spot these watches, you need to have experience and expertise or know what to look for. Fortunately, that’s exactly what you will learn in this article.

No matter how well-built these counterfeit Rolex watches are, there is no way for them to reach Rolex’s perfection standards, so there will always be tells.

How to spot a fake Rolex

About fake Rolex watches

The market for fake Rolexes is huge. Unfortunately.

Did you know that the output of counterfeit watches is larger than the output of authentic Rolex watches?

This just goes to show how diluted the market is, and that you need to either only by from trusted sellers or know exactly how to tell a fake watch from a real one.

Most counterfeit watches are sold by dealers who are selling them as fake, but some people knowingly sell counterfeit Rolex watches and try to pull them off as authentic – and this is particularly the reason you need to know how to spot a fake Rolex.

It’s not a fun surprise to buy a Rolex watch thinking it is the real deal only to find out that it is a counterfeit.

In recent years, scammers and counterfeiters have also started going out of their way to make their counterfeit watches look like the real deal, by creating boxes, papers, certificates, and more. This is why you should, under no circumstances take for granted that a Rolex watch is authentic only because it comes with the original box and warranty card. If counterfeiters can fake a watch, then obviously they can fake a plastic card and box. Now, there are also ways to spot these boxes and warranty cards but in this article, we are going to focus on the watch itself.

When it comes to accessories, the best way to spot a fake Rolex box and accessories is to compare them to pictures original ones online.

How to spot a fake Rolex watch

As Rolex has become more and more well-known, the symbol of wealth and status that it carries becomes greater and greater. This also means that the demand from those who can’t or do not want to pay the price for the real deal increases.

The majority of fake Rolex watches are made in China and surrounding countries in Asia – just like most other counterfeit goods.

Counterfeit watches are illegal due to the fact that they steal and replicate another company’s design, logo, and brand. Some people argue that ”if someone wants to wear a fake watch, let them”, but the fact of the matter is that they are illegal.

Because of this, the customs work hard with seizing counterfeit goods, including fake Rolexes that they can find. Here’s a photo of counterfeit Rolex watches that have been seized and destroyed:

Here is an ad made as a campaign against counterfeit watches:

Unfortunately, despite tough customs controls, the fake Rolexes are simply too many, and the majority of fake Rolexes get through customs and can reach the markets around the world. Additionally, ordering fake Rolexes from the internet has become easier than ever.

The cost of counterfeit Rolexes varies a lot, depending on how much effort the manufacturers have put into making them as close to the real thing as possible. But the prices can vary from only tens of euros, all the way up to even a few thousand euros for the most advanced replicas. Today, the most commonly replicated Rolex models are Submariner and Datejust.

Now, without further ado, let’s go into detail on how to spot a fake Rolex.

But before we start, have in mind that vintage and modern Rolex watches vary a lot. For example, one of the tells of a fake Rolex watch is that the printing on the dial is sharp and clear, but on some vintage Rolex watches, the printing is not very sharp anymore due to aging, so vintage watches demands more expertise and knowledge for spotting. If you are unsure about the authenticity of your Rolex watch, our advice is always to go to a watchmaker and have the watch authenticated.

Let’s look at the most obvious tells of a fake Rolex watch that you can use to spot them.

The caseback

There are two ways you can spot a fake Rolex by its caseback. The first is if the watch has a see-through caseback. Today, Rolex does not make a model with a see-through caseback and has only made a handful of watches with see-through case backs previously.

How to spot a fake Rolex

The other tell is engravings. Apart from just a few exceptions, such as the vintage COMEX Submariner, Rolex does not engrave the exterior of their case backs. If you see engravings on the watch, it’s most likely a replica – especially if the watch is of a newer model. Of course, a Rolex can have a personal engraving such as a name or a date, but Rolex engraves no logos, no text, or model names on the case backs of any of their newer models.

The case back varies depending on the model, but the best is to have a look at a photo of the casebook of the model you have, and then compare that with the watch you have in front of you.

There’s a misconception that if a Rolex has a green casebook sticker, it is authentic, but that is far from the truth. Read our article on Rolex casebook stickers here to learn more about it.

Bottom line is that if they have counterfeited a watch, they can fake a sticker.

The bracelet

Just like the overall feel of the watch, if you feel a real Rolex bracelet and then a fake bracelet, you’ll notice a considerable difference in both weight and quality of the Rolex bracelet.

This is something that you will learn over time, but when you have some expertise and experience, you will only need to hold the bracelet of a counterfeit Rolex watch for a few seconds in many cases in order to tell that it is fake. The main reason is that they don’t feel as solid and robust as the real Rolex bracelets.

Rolex Jubilee oyster clasp

The replica bracelets tend to be made of low-quality metal, and often times, you will be able to feel the low quality in your hand. Of course, there are fake bracelets made in higher quality too, and these are not as easy to spot.

 Genuine Rolex bracelets feel robust and strong, made only of the best materials. The bracelet of a fake Rolex often jangles and just sounds low-quality. If you want to take it one step further, if you have a steel Rolex bracelet, you can inspect the steel type of the bracelet, either by measuring density or with the help of a tool. Rolex uses 904L steel in its watches, unlike any other watch manufacturer, whereas other brands, and most often counterfeiters, 316L steel.

Now, have in mind that vintage Rolex bracelets can have a lot of stretches too, so it’s important to not get them confused.

Another good way to spot a fake Rolex by the bracelet is to look at the crown on the clasp. Rolex bracelets have the crown symbol on the clasp, which is made in different ways depending on the type of bracelet. The crown should be sharp and precise with clear lines. The ballpoints of the fake watches should be well defined and raised up (or lowered down) depending on the model. The crown on the fake watches tends to be of low quality with no sharp edges.

How to spot a fake Rolex

Furthermore, another good way is to look at the engravings on the bracelet. The engravings should be sharp and precise, but the fakes don’t tend to be. Simply look at the photo of how the engraving of a real should look, and then compare it with the potential fake.

Movement

In some cases, you may be able to inspect the movement of the Rolex watch. This is considering the fact that the vast majority of Rolex watches have a flat, non-see-through casebook which allows you to see the movement.

As such, in order to see the movement, you will need to open the caseback lock, and usually, need a particular tool for this.

If you get access to the watch’s movement, it’s usually very easy to spot whether it is fake or not.

Rolex’s movements are of perfection and precision, unlike fake movements.

Real movements always have ”Rolex” engraved, and replica movements most often have no engravings.

While many replica Rolexes utilize low-quality automatic movements, some use quartz movements. This means that you can take a look at the second’s hand, and if it ticks, it’s fake because all Rolex watches are automatic – except for Rolex’s Oysterquartz watches, which are now discontinued. 

Additionally, these quartz watches were made in small quantities, so if you come across a ticking second hand on a Rolex and it’s not an OysterQuartz, you can be certain that it’s fake. Have in mind though, that when we say ”sweeping”, an automatic watch is also powered by ”beats”, but rather than beating 60 times per minute, a Rolex automatic movement beats several times per second, thus creating a sweeping effect.

The bottom line, if you have access to the movement, search for an image on Google for the movement your watch is supposed to have. First, begin by identifying which movement your watch should have, for example reading our article on Rolex calibers, then looking up a picture of the movement your watch model should have, then comparing it with the movement your watch has.

The sound

If you have a hard time differentiating a ticking second hand from a swiping (quartz vs automatic), you can listen to the watch. If it ticks fast repeatedly, it’s an automatic watch. (TICKTICKTICKTICKTICK). If it’s a quartz watch (thus most likely fake), it ticks one time per second (TICK…….TICK……..TICK…..)

Cyclops

The cyclops is one of the easiest and best ways to spot a fake Rolex.

Almost all Rolex watches with a date functions have a magnifying cyclops glued onto the glass to make the date easier to read. This is because, without the magnifying glass, the date text is small and harder to read.

How to spot a fake Rolex

The cyclops magnifies the date by 2.5X, but most of the fake watches that replicate date models just put a piece of glass without any magnifying effect, since creating such piece of glass is difficult and expensive. And even if the counterfeiters make efforts to create a magnifying effect, they seldom get it right with 2.5X enlargement. Usually, a fake watch with a cyclops magnifies too little, but sometimes also too much. When you know how the date should look, this is often the easiest way to tell a fake watch when it has a date function.

Therefore, look at images of real Rolex watches with a cyclops and see what they look like. Then compare them.

While we are on the track of the date, another way to spot a fake Rolex is to look at the printing quality of the watch.

Normally, fake watches both have a low printing quality on the date wheel, the numbers do not have sharp lines, and they can also be misplaced and crooked.

Remember: Rolex accepts nothing less than perfection.

Make sure the model exists

This is definitely one of the best ways to spot a fake Rolex. Ensuring that the model even exists.

Furthermore, you want to make sure that the watch is made in the same way. For example, a common mistake on Fake Daytona watch is that the numbers on the sub-dials are incorrect from a real one. For example, what you can often see on the subdial of fake Daytonas is dates rather than seconds. In other words, one of the sub-dials are meant to be a date indicator, but the fact is that the Daytona does not have, and has never had, a date-indicator in one of the sundials.

The best way is to learn what model the watch you are skeptical about is, and more specifically the reference number, and then learn how the real one should look like. By then comparing these, you will be able to spot whether a watch is fake or not.

You can often see Rolex watches which are made in a design, variant or color scheme which does not exist. This obviously refers to the cheaper fake Rolex watches, but this makes it the easiest way to spot a fake Rolex if you know your Rolex models.

It’s not completely uncommon that watches such as the Rolex Daytona instead of having chronographs that measure seconds, instead have date functions, and so on.

In some cases, the fake watch manufacturers have just taken a normal watch and printed a Rolex logo on the dial. These are the fake Rolexes which can be spotted from a mile away since the models are often far from what Rolex would normally make.

Rehaut

The rehaut of the watch is a great way to spot a fake Rolex.

Modern Rolex watches should have an engraving on the rehaut – the inner rim between the dial and the crystal. 

Rolex started introducing the engraved rehaut in 2004 and then slowly introduced it for more and more models. Today, the text is laser etched rather than engraved, which it was in the beginning.

Seen below is an early, and thus engraved rehaut.

The new laser-etched rehaut is more visible and has a brighter finish compared to the older style which is more elegant and subdued.

Rolex introduced this engraved rehaut in order to prevent counterfeit watches, but do not for one second believe that if the watch has an engraved rehaut it is real. Some counterfeiters have learned how to engrave their rehauts. But while they may be engraved, they are certainly not engraved to the same perfection as Rolex’s watches.

The engraving says ”RolexRolexRolex…” and at 6 o’clock, the serial number is engraved. Some replica watches have tried to replicate this, however, the engraving tends to just be printed on the rehaut, or is very imprecise, unlike the real deal which is done with perfection, with no inconsistencies.

Authentic Rolex engraving has the text ”RolexRolexRolexRolex” around the rehaut and a Rolex crown at 12 o’clock as well as the serial number engraved at 6 o’clock.

What is really interesting is that authentic Rolex watches have the engraving, on the right side of the rehaut so that at each 5-minute marking, the engraving ends at the letter X. On the right side of the rehaut, the engraving always starts with the letter R, as seen in the image below:

Another thing to look at when it comes to the rehaut is the angle of it.

Authentic Rolex reheats are slightly angled, but almost straight. Fake Rolex watches tend to struggle with the correct angle on the reheat, and in many cases, the rehaut is too polished and thus creates reflections from the indices and the dials. Furthermore, the rehaut is often too angled. These are often easy ways to spot a fake Rolex watch. An authentic Rolex watch is not so polished that the indices reflect on them like a mirror.

Dial font and print

The dial font and print is often a good way to spot a fake Rolex due to the fact that Rolex makes its print to perfection with sharp lines, whereas counterfeit watches struggle with this. Essentially all fake Rolex watches have imperfect dial printing in one way or another. Often times, the printing bleeds and the lines become misaligned or not correct, other times, there can be misspellings, the printings in the wrong hue or color, etc.

How to spot a fake Rolex

When speaking of the dial, you can also look at the applied indices. On authentic Rolex watches, the luminous mass that is applied to the indices should be flat and evenly distributed. Refer to an authentic Rolex watch to understand what the indices should be like.

Counterfeit watches tend to struggle with making the indices and the luminous mass properly, apply them in the correct way, or make them the right size, so this is often a great way to tell a fake Rolex watch. Often times, the indices are also often too thick, and in some cases too thin.

When it comes to the printing and the fonts, Rolex makes its watches to perfection, and if you can see inconsistencies, blurs, unevenness, the spacing in the font, ink bleeding, it’s probably a replica. Therefore, an easy way to spot a fake Rolex is to carefully inspect the dial font and text. The text should be easy to read, and there should be no misspellings, uneven letters, or similar.

Do, however, have in mind that vintage Rolexes can be a completely different story, as mentioned earlier.  Especially as these can often be 20, 30, 40 years old, and this obviously affects the dial of the watch as well as the font and the text. In order to identify a vintage watch, you need to have more skill, knowledge, and experience.

Functions

This is a really interesting way to spot a fake Rolex.

Oftentimes, fake watches made to replicate models with special functions such as the Daytona or Yacht-Master II don’t have movements advanced enough to support these functions.

How to spot a fake Rolex

For example, if you have a Daytona, the chronograph function should work properly. If you have a Daytona and the chronograph pushers do not work, such as the sub-dials, it is most likely a fake watch.

Therefore, it’s important to try all the functions of the Rolex watch to ensure they work the way they should.

Micro-etched crown

Another way to tell a fake watch is by looking at the micro-etched crown on the glass.

Rolex started etching the crystal in 2001 but it was not throughout the line until about 2003.

The etched crown in the sapphire crystal can barely be seen with the naked eye, but it is possible when you know where to look.

Refer to the image below.

The problem is that some counterfeiters have started laser-etching the crown into the sapphire crystal which means that just because your watch has the crown doesn’t mean it is authentic.

However, since the crown is so tiny, it is difficult to make it as perfect as Rolex does it:

Photo: Fratellowatches

As you can see, the laser-etched crown is perfectly made. Fake watches that do have the crown is poorly made with a poor finish. Oftentimes, it looks like the crown is acid-etched.

If the watch doesn’t have the Rolex crown etched on the glass, chances are, it’s a replica, because this detail is so small and hard to make, replica watches tend to overlook it. It is expensive for the counterfeiters to make, and the vast majority of them don’t have the necessary tools to make them.

Waterproof

All Rolex watches are water-resistant. Some more waterproof than others. Fake watches, on the other hand, are seldom waterproof, so testing the watch’s water-resistance is often a way to tell if the watch is fake or not. Have in mind, though, that if the Rolex is old and hasn’t been serviced for a long time, it may, despite being authentic, not be waterproof anymore. Testing the watch’s waterproofness is thus not the ideal method to spot a fake Rolex on.

Serial numbers

Another way to spot a fake Rolex is to look at the serial numbers of the watch.

The serial number can be found engraved on the rehaut at 6 o’clock.

The serial number should be perfectly laser-engraved the way the ”Rolex text” is with perfectly engraved fine lines.

Replicas often have tiny dots making up the engraving, and others have a sandy texture in the engraving (laser etching) as opposed to Rolex’s clear and smooth engraving.

The crown

The winding crown on a fake Rolex is of low quality and has a basic look, while a real Rolex has a quality feel to it. The side of the winding crown also has the Rolex coronet on it, and this should be well-defined with clear contrasts.

How to spot a fake RolexHow to spot a fake Rolex

Metal

The metal is often a dead giveaway and an easy way to spot a fake Rolex. In particular, if the watch is supposed to be in precious metal. Some Rolex watches only exist in certain precious metals, for example, the Platinum Day-Date or Day-Date which is made in either platinum, yellow gold, rose gold, or white gold.

Rolex Daytona Yellow gold 16528 vs 116508

Obviously making a fake Rolex watch in a real precious metal does not make financial sense, so if the fake watch is supposed to be in gold, it is instead painted gold. As a result, the watch does not have the same weight as a real precious metal watch has. Furthermore, it does not have the same sheen and looks that real precious metal has. In many cases, since the gold is only plated or painted, it will start to wear off over time. Have in mind that Rolex only makes its precious metal in solid gold and not plated. 

So if you find a Rolex watch where you can see the gold coming off, it is definitely fake.

Compare models

The first step to identify a fake Rolex is to see if that model even exists. Some replicas are so poorly made that they’ve just written a Rolex model on the dial of a watch while looks completely different from the real model.

But if you’ve found that the model does in fact exist, the best way to see if a watch is fake is to take up a picture of a real Rolex and then compare the too. Is there anything that stands out on the watch? Compare it to a picture of the watch it is trying to replicate and see if you can find any differences.

This is the best and easiest way to spot a fake Rolex when you don’t have much experience or knowledge. Simply compare it with a photo of a real one. It is of course even better if you have a real one to compare with, in the flesh, but this may not always be possible.

Weight

Because Rolex watches are made from solid metals, whether from precious metals or steel, authentic Rolex watches usually have quite some heft to them.

Fake Rolex watches tend to be made of low-quality materials and does thus not carry the same heft to them as authentic Rolex watches.

Bezel

Lastly, a way to spot a fake Rolex is to look at the bezel. Different Rolex watches have different bezels, but if it has numbers on it, they should be sharp and very clearly defined.

How to spot a fake Rolex

For example, a ceramic bezel has numbers on them, and the paint inside of those numbers should be perfectly applied inside the engraving. If the numbers are raised, for example on the Yacht-Master, the numbers should have clear lines. Make sure that they are also in the same font as an authentic one.

How to spot a fake Rolex

How to avoid buying a fake Rolex

The best way to avoid buying a fake Rolex is by buying from reputable sources. Here are the best sellers ways to avoid buying a fake Rolex.

Buy from reputable sources

As mentioned, the absolute best way to avoid buying a fake Rolex is to only buy from trusted sellers.

These sellers will never sell a fake watch and will do the inspection and authenticity check for you. When buying from these sellers, you can trust their expertise and knowledge.

If it is too good to be true, it usually is

If you get an offer to buy a Rolex at a price that is almost too good to be true, it usually is. If it is offered by a trusted seller, you need to be a little less careful, but if you are buying from a  private person or a source you don’t trust, it’s better to stay away unless you have expertise and experience enough to easily spot a fake Rolex watch.

Auctions

When it comes to auctions, it’s not necessarily that they intentionally sell fake watches, but they may not have enough expertise to tell a fake Rolex from the real deal. As these sellers don’t have enough experience, you as a buyer need to have enough experience and do your due diligence if you are going to buy a watch.

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