If there’s a consumer good that has any kind of worldwide demand, chances are that someone has counterfeited it. That’s true of just about anything – clothing, movies, medicine and even wine. And counterfeit designer watches are perhaps the most widely distributed fake merchandise of all, with nearly 40 million counterfeit designer watches introduced into the worldwide market on an annual basis. Most of these counterfeit luxury watches originate in China, where regulations for manufacturing and export are less stringent than they are in the United States and Europe. While counterfeit Rolex watches tend to dominate the market, hundreds of other brands have been duplicated, as well, and this costs the industry billions of dollars per year.
Why would consumers buy fake watches? In some cases, they are simply unaware. While counterfeit watches have been around since the middle of the nineteenth century, most early attempts at reproducing luxury products were poor, and the resulting products were both obvious and shoddy. Modern manufacturing techniques have made it a lot easier to duplicate just about anything, and many consumers purchase counterfeit goods without even realizing that the item they’re buying isn’t genuine. They may simply think that they got a good deal, and that’s particularly true if they’re buying on eBay or Craigslist or any other place where one might pay with cash from a seller who isn’t a regular dealer of luxury timepieces. Other consumers want the prestige that comes with owning an example of a luxury watch, but realize that they cannot afford to buy an authentic one. After all, a genuine Rolex watch starts at about $5000 and you can easily spend six figures on one. Most consumers simply don’t have that kind of money to spend on anything, let alone a timepiece or a fashion accessory. A counterfeit watch, on the other hand, may sell for just a few dollars to as much as $1000, and the consumer will know that the merchandise they’re buying isn’t authentic, but doesn’t care. This is the type of sale that most hurts the industry, as the sale of these timepieces to willing buyers dilutes the brand, and makes it seem less exclusive than it really is. Genuine Rolex watches are relatively rare; after all, they’re very expensive and only a few people, worldwide, can actually afford them. Furthermore, genuine luxury watches are high quality products that should last for decades with proper care. Shoddy, poor-quality fakes won’t last as long, and when someone buys a fake watch and it fails after a short time, they may think that the legitimate manufacturer makes poor quality products, which couldn’t be further from the truth. This hurts both the industry and consumers.
While it was once quite easy to detect counterfeit watches, it has become much more difficult in recent years, as the manufacturers of these items have taken to using better materials and more sophisticated manufacturing techniques. Some makers use actual Swiss mechanical movements in their products. They might not be of the same brand that they’re claiming it to be, yet it might actually be a reliable Swiss-made timepiece. A few of the more expensive fakes may even incorporate gold plating or actual gold in their construction. This can make it difficult for the layman to distinguish between an authentic model and a counterfeit, as most consumers do not regularly see or handle the genuine article often enough to be familiar with them. Obviously, taking the timepiece to a reputable jeweler or an authorized dealer of the brand in question can yield a good assessment of the product’s authenticity, but you don’t always have the opportunity to do that, particularly in the case of a cash sale.
While pricing can often be an indicator of the authenticity (or lack, thereof) of a designer watch, it’s not always a good measure. It’s true that if someone offers to sell a Rolex watch to you for $150, it’s almost certainly a counterfeit watch, but what if the seller were asking $3000 instead? For many buyers, the higher price might have them thinking that the watch might be genuine. For that reason, you can’t use price alone in making the distinction between a counterfeit watch and a real one. Some people believe that if the watch doesn’t have fluid motion on the second hand that it must be a fake, but many legitimate watchmakers produce models with a somewhat jerky second hand motion, as it’s quite difficult not to make one that way.
How can you avoid buying a counterfeit luxury watch? The easiest way is to buy only from a reputable dealer. Avoid cash transactions; that will not give you any recourse should you discover later that the product you bought wasn’t genuine. It’s best to purchase from a dealer who accepts major credit cards and/or PayPal for payment, as both methods of payment give the consumer options should they later question some aspect of the sale or the authenticity of the product. Your ideal vendor will accept returns and offer a refund for at least 30 days from the date of purchase and will either offer the manufacturer’s warranty on the product or one of their own. Beware of buying from anyone who insists that all sales are final or who require a wire transfer for payment without accepting credit cards or PayPal. If you’re buying online, check to see where the retailer is located. The United States and the European Union have strict regulations regarding the sale of counterfeit merchandise, making it a lot less likely that a retailer of fraudulent merchandise would be selling from a business located within those areas. Most of the Websites that sell counterfeit designer watches are based in Asia and while there are legitimate dealers there, one should exercise caution.
Luxury and designer watches are well made products that are designed to look good and last a long time while working well. As you might expect, these items cost quite a bit of money and they are well worth it. If you want a designer wristwatch, save your money and buy one from a legitimate and reputable dealer. You’ll have the admiration of your friends and relatives and the industry will be grateful.