The industry does not stop, the further development of technology and design moves steadily forward – this applies to the watch manufacturers, but also to the counterfeiters. Rolex copies are ten a penny, street vendors circulate tons of cheap watches, reminiscent of their originals only when viewed from a distance. However, the number of extremely well-made fake watches is steadily increasing. Quite often, these replicas are so high-quality that even connoisseurs are caught out. Nevertheless, differences in almost all details can be identified, from the packaging to the inner workings.
Packaging and accessories
Bag, box, carton… the fake set suggests you bought a Rolex! It is not unusual for the counterfeit packaging to differ in colour and dimensions from the originals, but most counterfeiters have recently made significant readjustments here. However, there are almost always clear differences in the green plastic case in which the watch is located. The counterfeits are usually much less cleanly processed, especially at seams and glues.
The right accessories are also supplied, at least that’s what it seems. However, the brownish plastic seal is a thing of the past, since 2015 Rolex has only used the green seal. Of course, it could be a watch that has been with the trader for a long time. However, the quality of the lettering and varnishing on the fake seal does not come close to that of the original. The official documents are also enclosed, including the warranty certificate and the international plastic warranty card. These documents must of course be completed and stamped, including reference and serial number. Although counterfeits are flawed here, they are often more than convincing.
If you take the fake Rolex out of the box for the first time, it conveys value. Case, bracelet, dial and hands are often very well made at fakes. A difference can often be seen in the movement of the second hand, which is seldom as smooth as on the original. And also the date magnifier of a counterfeit Rolex almost always shows slight deviations, e.g. regarding the magnification factor and the exact centred positioning. Without a direct comparison between the original and the fake, however, it is difficult for the layman to discern these differences.
On closer inspection, however, the fake reveals itself in many details. For example, the Rolex crown at 12 o’clock on the dial of counterfeit watches hardly ever corresponds to the original, neither in shape nor in positioning. To see that, you sometimes have to look very closely.
The rotating bezel of the Rolex GMT-Master is left and right turning, adjustable in hourly increments, with a subtle, high-quality sound. Here you can find pretty much everything in a replica – except the quality of the original. Not infrequently the rotating bezel can only be rotated on one side, the adjustability does not work properly, the noise is by no means valuable, the colour tone and numerals deviate from the original.
Another feature is the circumferential laser engraved “Rolex” font in the housing. With Rolex it is full and perfect, with counterfeits it is mostly less clean. Also laser engraved is the crown, which is on the 6 o’clock position in the glass of the watch. Although many copies now have this engraving, the quality is almost always much worse.
The adjustability of time and date is excellent for a more accurate check. If the crown of the original is pulled out one step, the hour hand and date can be adjusted, the date forwards and backwards. The GMT hand can then be adjusted at the next level. With a copy this usually works differently and only rarely error-free. For example, the GMT hand is often dragged along only as a dead hand. And if you pay attention to the digits when setting the date, there are almost always processing errors here as well.
Bracelet and clasp
There are countless differences in the bracelet, the closer you look, the more you find. For example, counterfeits rarely achieve the perfection of the highly polished surface of the inner band elements. Here you can almost always find machining marks, scratches, etc..
The safety clasp of the bracelet, with its Rolex crown on it, does not come close to the quality of the original in any replica. Neither is the engraving inside the clasp. In the case of counterfeits, these are often not positioned correctly, show processing errors and sometimes even false information.
By the way, the difference can usually also be seen on the scale. The original Rolex GMT-Master 2 weighs with all band elements around 152 grams. Counterfeits are often a little easier. And if you take an original GMT-Master 2 and shake it, it sounds somehow better than a fake…
Here you can see a comparison between original and forgery:
Constantly updated article, originally posted in November 2017.