At Gray & Sons, we conduct a detailed inspection of every single product that comes through our doors to ensure that anything we sell is 100% authentic. You will never buy a fake Rolex watch from us because each one we sell has been through a rigorous authenticity process. Essentially we’ve done the homework for our clients so they can rest assured that any luxury watch or jewelry piece they buy from us is the real deal. However, when shopping for a luxury timepiece, particularly a pre-owned high-end watch, it’s still important to know how to spot a fake to avoid any risk of being cheated.
Unfortunately, as the demand for luxury goods increases, so do the counterfeits—especially for Rolex watches. It’s estimated that Rolex watches, specifically the Rolex Submariner, are the most counterfeited luxury watches on the market. Additionally, counterfeiters are becoming increasingly sophisticated, so shoppers need to be more proactive in protecting themselves from buying fakes by arming themselves with knowledge.
So, what are some easy techniques to tell the difference between a fake vs. a real Rolex? We’ve identified and outlined six simple ways for you to spot a fake Rolex.
1. Familiarize yourself with vintage, discontinued, and current Rolex models
One easy way to protect yourself against counterfeit Rolex watches is to do some basic research on which Rolex models actually exist—especially if you’re not that familiar with the brand.
For instance, Rolex Day-Date models a.k.a. Rolex Presidents are exclusively crafted in gold or platinum. So if you come across a steel Day-Date, then it’s a fake. Also, certain colored ceramic bezels are only available on specific Rolex models. For example, the only red and blue ceramic bezel is found on a white gold Rolex GMT-Master II while the only black and blue ceramic bezel is found on a steel GMT-Master II.
Take the time to read up on Rolex models, past and present, so you understand what you are buying. Do some online research on the specific Rolex model(s) that you’re thinking to acquire to find out hallmark design traits, serial numbers, materials used, and so forth. Some great resources include Rolex’s official website, watch forums, auction websites, as well as our own inventory of Rolex listings.
2. Inspect the details
As a company that is synonymous with prestige and excellence, everything on a Rolex watch should be perfect. Naturally, spelling mistakes, crooked text, imbalanced spacing, and so on are indicators of a counterfeit.
If you have physical access to the piece, a genuine Rolex should feel much heavier than an imitation due to the use of top grade materials on the real deal versus cheap materials on a fake Rolex watch.
If you are buying from the web, request plenty of high-resolution pictures from the seller. You’ll want images of every angle of the watch so you can properly inspect the details for signs of authenticity or imitation. For instance, at Gray & Sons, we always include multiple pictures of our products from the front to the back to the sides and will gladly take more at your request, sent directly to your phone.
As a response to the increasing prevalence of replicas, Rolex has taken some measures to amp up the proof of authenticity details on their products. As of 2002, Rolex has included a minuscule crown etched on the underside of the crystal positioned at 6 o’clock. Due to its size, it’s almost impossible to see without a jeweler’s loupe and it is extremely difficult to replicate on fake Rolexes. Furthermore, on newer Rolex models the rehaut (the inner metal ring enveloping the dial just under the perimeter of the crystal) is etched with “ROLEX ROLEX ROLEX ROLEX” in addition to the serial number at 6 o’clock.
3. Research the market value
With the Internet, all it takes is a simple search to find out the approximate market value of a specific Rolex reference. You can even browse through the Gray & Sons inventory to see if your particular Rolex in question is available and at what price.
If you’re looking at a Rolex that is significantly cheaper than other comparable models, take caution. If the price is too good to be true, it probably is.
4. Take note of these red flags
As you familiarize yourself with the fundamentals of Rolex design, there are some design traits that will stand out for their flawed nature. Here are some red flags to consider:
• Engraved casebacks – Except for a few models, Rolex does not typically engrave the exterior of their casebacks.
• Clear casebacks – Rolex watches do not have exhibition casebacks with a view of the movement (the only exception to this are some ultra rare models from the 1930s).
• Lack of Cyclops lens – Except for the Sea-Dweller, date windows at 3 o’clock are always equipped with a Cyclops lens to magnify the date 2.5 times the size.
• Quartz movements – Rolex currently does not offer any quartz models (they did however, produce some in the 1970s/1980s in limited quantities called the Oyster quartz).
• Loud ticking sounds – Rolex watches do not make loud ticking sounds.
5. Buy from a reputable source
Hands down the easiest way to avoid buying a replica Rolex is to purchase from a reputable source. Do your homework and look into the seller prior to making any purchases. Do they have a solid reputation? Do they provide a guarantee and/or warranty with every sale? Do they offer easy return policies? These are just some of the questions you should ask about the potential seller.
At Gray & Sons, we stand by every single watch that we sell as 100% guaranteed authentic. We are proud to have a team of Swiss-trained watchmakers in-house with over 150 years combined experience to inspect every item that comes through our doors—including Rolex watches. Moreover, not only is every Rolex sold by Gray & Sons guaranteed against defects for two full years after the date of purchase, we also offer a 10-day, no questions asked, buy-back privilege on all pre-owned watches.
You should be especially wary of buying Rolex watches from websites that don’t actually carry the inventory themselves (such as eBay and Craigslist) but instead are in the business of connecting buyers and sellers. The main concern with marketplaces such as these is that the companies are not actually responsible for the goods that are sold on their sites—instead, they place the responsibility on the seller themselves making it difficult to weed out the unscrupulous ones. So, if you inadvertently bought a fake Rolex, you may face great difficulty getting your money back.
6. Go with your gut
And finally, if it just doesn’t feel right, walk away from the sale. It’s better to miss out on buying a Rolex that might be real as opposed to buying a Rolex that might be fake. The process of buying a pre-owned Rolex watch should not be one wrought with worry, but rather it should be a comfortable, safe, and secure transaction and