5 Tips on How to Tell If a Rolex is Real from Professional Watch Buyers

Rolex watches are valuable so there are many fakes out there. A real Rolex watch might not look much different than a fake to the naked eye, which means that spotting a fake Rolex can be a challenge. As we buy and sell many luxury watch brands, we know how to tell if a Rolex is real and will share some professional tips. These tips apply to both men’s and ladies’ Rolex watches.

Many watch brands have problems with fakes, so some of these tips will work for other types of watches too. For a free authentication and valuation to sell your Rolex watch please arrange an appointment with us – all of our valuations are no obligation.

General Tips on How to Spot a Fake Rolex vs a Real Rolex

We will now run through some features that are present on genuine Rolex watches. Look for the following telltale signs when watch shopping on the used or second-hand market:

1. Smooth second hand movements: A quick look at the watch face will be the first test. The second hand movement should look like a smooth, seamless motion, there are no ‘ticks’ with a genuine Rolex. A tick is a sign of low-quality quartz.
2. Weight of the watch: Rolex watches use dense precious metals. As a result, they are heavy. If you have ever picked up a Yacht-Master you will realise just how heavy they can be. The Rolex bracelets are also very heavy.
3. Check the crown markings: The crown etching is very precise on a genuine Rolex. All crown logos should be extremely high clarity and sharp upon the metal watch face. If there is any smudging, brushing or blur, then the Rolex is surely a fake.
4. Look for the cyclops lens: There should be a cyclops lens, a single bubble-like magnifying glass shape, over the date. If your Rolex has a date function but there is no lens, this should ring alarm bells. Many fake Rolex watches will include a fake lens or larger numbers painted on the date dial that create the illusion of magnification.
5. View the model and reference number: If you all but destroy a Rolex watch you should still be able to see the model or reference number. The number should be symmetrical, deeply cut and clean. Otherwise, it is quite likely to be fake.

With Rolex watches you are looking for signs of quality, craftsmanship and exquisite attention to detail. People who handle Rolex watches regularly have an innate sense of genuine articles.

How to Tell If a Rolex Submariner, Datejust or Oyster Perpetual is Real or Fake

The Rolex Submariner, Datejust and Oyster Perpetual are exceptional watch models that attract many imitators, so there are a lot of fakes out there. You should always be cautious when watch shopping for these models.

Beware of the following when determining if these second-hand watches are real or fake:

  • Rolex Submariner: Check for rough uneven engravings as a sign of a fake. You may need to use a magnifying glass to spot the best ones. Uneven bezel markings are also a dead giveaway. Numbers on the date display should also be perfectly central.
  • Rolex Datejust: Every letter and number should be completely clear and have precise edges. Any unevenness or lack of clarity on the watch face is a sign of a fake. The date should be perfectly central within the cyclops lens and the bezel should fit flush to the case too.
  • Rolex Oyster Perpetual: Check the case back for the characteristic smooth, metallic surface. As this watch often uses gold, check for any kind of fading in the metal too. Even if you have a vintage model these details will always remain on a genuine item.

The Oyster Perpetual, Datejust and Submariner are all iconic watches and people go to great lengths to make highly-sophisticated copies. Many fakes will require a magnifying lens and keen inspection to spot. If you are ever in doubt, seek a professional valuation for a reliable answer.

Fake Bands, Straps & Boxes

Rolex Daytona in a box

If you want a serious pro tip, checking the band, strap or bracelet will be a good test. A Rolex bracelet should be heavy, especially when made of stainless steel. 

Presidential bracelets use three interlinking pieces but are only present on the Day-Date and certain Datejust models, so beware if you see this bracelet on any other model.

It is not unheard of for a seller of vintage or second-hand Rolexes to have a genuine watch but a replacement or even a fake bracelet. Do your research and check for the correct number of pins.

You can even see stories of fake boxes, which only seem fake due to the colour differences from the originals. Faded crowns, imprecise logos and shallow green colours are all a sign of a fake.

Are Fake Watches a Big Problem?

To put it bluntly, yes. Forgery and unauthorised replication of watches and clocks have been an issue since the late 1700s. Many famous British, Swiss, French and German watchmakers were the subject of forgers’ trade, and this continues today – perhaps above all with Rolex watches.

Fake Rolex watches are frequently sold online and on open market stalls. A fake watch is not just a blight on the collector, they are often sold as part of criminal operations by organised gangs. 

Most luxury watchmakers do not sell any watches online themselves, although it is possible to find an online seller for second-hand watches. The majority of modern fakes originate in China. 

Use a Trustworthy Seller to Buy a Second-Hand Rolex

inspecting a rolex with client

Whatever Rolex model you plan to buy, the highest-quality genuine Rolexes are only available from the most reputable sellers. Of course, spotting a trustworthy seller can be even more difficult than spotting a genuine Rolex watch.

Look for some of the following features as key signs of an honest and trustworthy seller:

  • Experience in the trade: The most reputable sellers of a true Rolex watch will have done so for many years. A good guide is around 10-20 years of experience as a seller of second-hand antiques and luxury goods, which also demonstrates their experience in watch authentication.
  • Relationships with private collectors: The second-hand, vintage or antique watch trade is all about relationships. With good contacts, a watch seller can source Rolex models that are hard to get and provide assurances on the watch’s ownership history.
  • Plenty of current stock: If a seller has a fairly wide selection of luxury watches that are available for sale they are likely to have considerable knowledge of them. Buying and selling Rolex watches means they should have seen many types over the years.

If you would like to use our service to buy a genuine Rolex please view our current stock of men’s and ladies’ watches. Thinking of selling? If so, we can also offer you a chance to schedule an appointment with us for a free valuation.

    August 3, 2022

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