Luxury watches can be huge status symbols, but not everyone has the money to spend on them. That’s why the counterfeit watch industry is booming; it can be really tempting to get the look of a genuine luxury item for a fraction of the price. Some fake watches look so real, experts can’t tell the difference between them and a genuine article without opening up the case. So what’s the harm?
There are actually a lot of reasons not to buy counterfeit watches. There are legal, social, and even financial consequences of buying counterfeit luxury goods. While the price tags might be tempting, the safest bet is to ensure that your watch is the real deal.
5 Reasons Why You Should Not Buy Fake Watches
- Buying counterfeit branded merchandise is illegal, without exception. While this clearly isn’t enough to deter the manufacturers of these fakes, it can have legal consequences for buyers and sellers alike. While many people tell you that buying a fake watch isn’t against the law, the authorities will disagree with you. Both buying and selling fake watches can lead to criminal charges in a wide range of countries worldwide.
- While the average person on the street might not be able to tell if your watch is fake, collectors and experts certainly will be able to. It’s far too easy to get caught wearing a fake watch, especially if it’s obvious that you wouldn’t be able to afford the real thing. The social consequences, not to mention the possibility of criminal charges, just aren’t worth it.
- If you’re really unlucky, customs agents could seize your watch if they discover it. The best-case scenario in this situation is that you lose the watch and have wasted the money you spent on it. In some countries, simply having a counterfeit watch in your possession is a chargeable offense and could result in hefty fines or even prison time.
- In general, counterfeit watches have much shorter lifespans than their genuine counterparts. A Rolex watch can last years, but a knockoff might not even last you a year. Counterfeit watches are usually made of less quality materials by less quality manufacturers; after all, the goal of someone who sells fake watches is to make as much money as possible. This means that they’re going to cut all the corners they can to make sure that the most profit possible ends up in their pockets.
- While fake watches offer the illusion of prestige, they undermine the quality, craftsmanship, and intellectual property of the real thing. Buying counterfeit goods undermines the industry and redirects the equity into the pockets of counterfeiters, rather than into the legitimate businesses they’re masquerading as.
Spotting a Fake Watch
If you’re worried that a watch that you’ve bought — or are considering buying — is fake, there are a few ways to determine whether it’s the genuine article or not. In the early days, it was easy. Misspelled brand names, shoddy finishes, and substandard packaging made a fake watch stand out from miles away. But nowadays, counterfeiters are getting smarter and smarter, and they’re putting time and effort into making their fakes as close as possible to the real thing.
The first sign of a fake watch is the location where you bought it. If you’re looking at a row of Rolexes lined up on a table with no security glass, they’re almost certainly fakes. Even shops that look legitimate can be dealing in shady counterfeits.
Ask which marques a shop is licensed to sell and double-check on the brand’s official website if you’re still unsure. Even second-hand luxury watches should be sold by authorized dealers; on top of the guaranteed authenticity, you’ll probably get a warranty too.
Secondly, watches do not depreciate in value. Reputable sellers will know what a Rolex or an Omega is worth, and you’re unlikely to ever get more than a 25% discount on the market value of a genuine article. If you’re looking at an extreme discount, chances are that you’re looking at a fake.
The best way to figure out if a watch is fake is to handle it. Weigh it in your hands and feel the finish. Counterfeits will be made of cheaper materials and will feel lighter than a genuine luxury watch. Fakes will often feel a little rough around the edges, which is a sign that they haven’t been hand finished properly.
You might also be able to spot irregularities in the finish or details of a watch. Genuine luxury watches are often sold on the expectation that they are perfect. You will not be finding genuine articles with mispositioned letters, logos, or missing details. Luxury watch makers are paid not to make those kinds of mistakes, but a counterfeiter might settle for close enough.