If you search for a Rolex on the Internet, sooner or later you will come across fakes. Unfortunately, these are much easier to buy than the originals. Sometimes you wait many years for a new Rolex. High-quality "replica watches" are a real problem - because unlike watches from beach vendors, even the trained eye finds it extremely difficult to tell the difference between a copy and an original. It will take revenge on the second-hand market at the latest. Because how should you know whether the watch you want to buy is really genuine? This guide should help at least with current models - in four stages.
You can save yourself a lot of suffering if you choose the right marketplace to buy a used Rolex. The Swiss manufacturer naturally recommends buying a watch exclusively from a jeweler. With new specimens, however, you can safely put it off, because the warehouse is empty (find out more here). For a few weeks, however, Rolex has been offering certified second-hand watches – initially only through Bucherer. There is no more security. However, the prices for watches from the "Rolex Certified Pre-Owned" (CPO) program are very high (learn more here).
Trading platforms such as Chrono24 or Chronext can be somewhat cheaper. Chrono24 is a kind of dealer directory for commercial sellers or private individuals. A little research is therefore necessary when buying a watch, because not every dealer is automatically serious. When buying via Chrono24, pay attention to ratings, the location and the "Chrono24 Trusted Seller" label if you want to be on the safe side.
Chronext, on the other hand, deals in the watches itself, checks most of the specimens itself and gives a guarantee. It's very safe, but expensive if you look at the prices. You can certainly buy a watch in the "RLX" specialist forum, because there the expert community would immediately notice counterfeits and throw them off the platform.
In fact, the auction house Ebay is also an option for a purchase, because the platform offers an authenticity check after the purchase. However, this does not apply to every advertisement, which is why you should pay close attention to whether this service is part of your dream watch. If not, trading on Ebay differs only marginally from the offers on Ebay classifieds, which is probably the cheapest but most dangerous place to go for luxury watches.
A purchase via Ebay classified ads is absolutely possible, but the amount of fakes is highest here. Therefore, pay close attention to the provider, look for possible branches and save the advertisement and its pictures for security – should there be any problems. The basic rule is: "Buy the seller, not the watch". This is to say that one should not only look closely at the Rolex, but also at the person who offers it.
A big red flag is also cheap prices from private individuals who claim not to know the value of the watch. Honestly, if you can advertise a Rolex, you can also search for its price. There are no bargains!
The good news: It is also possible for non-professionals to recognize a bad counterfeit immediately. If the second hand isn't gliding across the dial, but is clearly jumping from second to second, be sure to keep your distance. The only exception: you want to buy an Oysterquartz - these are the only Rolex watches whose movement is actually battery-powered and where the hand does not move smoothly.
The next step is the watch: Check whether the rehaut, i.e. the raised edge around the dial, contains an engraving and how precisely this is worked. The ring is only shiny on older models, newer models show a rather obtrusive "ROLEXROLEXROLEX" lettering, interrupted by a crown at 12 o'clock and separated from the serial number at 6 o'clock. This serial number is also important and should be exactly the same in the papers of the watch. You should refrain from watches without papers unless you are absolutely sure. Attention: The papers of a Rolex change irregularly. Make sure that the warranty card matches the year of manufacture. "Punched paper" hasn't existed since the mid-2000s. More about this in the blog "100percentpassion".
You should also check the writing quality on the dial and the feel of the bezel if it can be rotated. Without exception, the writing on a Rolex is absolutely precise, and typographical errors are as rare as unicorns. The click of a bezel, for example on the Submariner model, is rich and well defined, yet the ring turns easily.
Then a look at the case back: If you find an engraving here, you are either holding a model of the Sea Dweller series in your hands, or very likely a fake. The engraving "Winner 24 Daytona" is extremely popular. If you can see it, leave it! The same applies to glass shelves through which one can see the work. There is a German watchmaker who actually makes these backs, but they are never originally part of a Rolex.
Now look at the tape. Are there any sharp edges? Gaps where there shouldn't be? All bad signs. A Rolex bracelet does not rattle and the end pieces that are directly on the watch should not have any play.
Now start looking for details that some counterfeiters often fail to find. At 6 o'clock there should be a crown in the glass of the watch - we're still talking about current models. Turn the watch into the light to see the little crown. The "laser crown" is very fine, often not visible, but always there. In the case of counterfeits, it is either missing entirely – or is more roughly incorporated. In very rare cases, the crown is not found at 6 o'clock but elsewhere. This can happen if a watch has been in the workshop - but, as I said, it is extremely rare.
Then listen carefully – especially with movements from the 3130 series, assuming absolute silence, you should hear a faint ringing. This is unique and not heard in fakes. But: Unfortunately, this charming feature does not apply to all watches - and therefore only helps if certain movements are to be expected in the watch. However, a regular ticking should always be heard. For connoisseurs: Usually it is 28,800 vibrations per hour, i.e. eight ticks per second.
The color of the numbers in the bezel inlay can also be an indicator of a fake watch. Rolex steams the ceramic inlays either with platinum or with gold. The platinum shimmers slightly silvery on a real watch, but looks more gray without much light. A watch with light, almost white numbers is unlikely to come from Switzerland.
It's also worth taking a look at the hands - especially if luminous material is involved. Pay attention to a depth effect in places where the luminous material is introduced. Hands that are too smooth are not a good sign. In the dark, a modern Rolex should glow blue, not green. The easiest way to test this is with a flashlight. Hold the watch briefly, then cover with your hand and examine the color.
If the clock has a date, make sure it is in the exact center of the window. If the Rolex has a magnifying glass, and almost everyone has one, the magnification should be around a factor of 2.5. In addition, Rolex has an anti-reflective coating on the underside of the magnifying glass, which is often reflected in fakes with a blue tint.
Even if Rolex - as mentioned - does not use glass bottoms, the movements are beautiful to look at. 90 percent of all counterfeits are revealed when the watch is opened. The problem: You either need the right tools or a friendly watchmaker with the appropriate equipment. If it is a "super replica", the counterfeiters will try to replicate the original as well as possible. A look at the Rolex homepage will help here. Compare photos of the movement working in each watch with the movement in the watch in front of you. Pay special attention to the anodized gears, the balance bridge, the screws on the balance (stop the watch for this) and the color of the hairspring, it should be blue.
All of the tips in this article are, firstly, no guarantee that a watch with the features mentioned is really genuine and, secondly, they refer to newer models. The authenticity of so-called "vintage" watches is often even more difficult to determine the older they are. If you are not an expert in the field, seek help on forums such as "RLX" or contact a connoisseur of old Rolex watches. As a layman, buying coveted models from before the turn of the millennium is pure minefield. Extensive research and expert help is absolutely necessary here.