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How To Spot a Fake Rolex – The Official Guide

June 19, 2018

BY Paul Altieri


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Watch our video to learn how to tell if a Rolex is real

Rolex is widely regarded as one of the most important watch companies in history. The sheer number of Rolex watches sold each year is a testament to their quality. A Rolex is more than a watch – it is a status symbol. For many, owning a Rolex watch brings pure joy. That joy, in turn, creates a huge demand for these luxury timepieces. Great demand also attracts a booming counterfeit market and, unfortunately, buyers can be tricked into handing over their cash for a fake Rolex, all the while thinking it’s the real deal. So, if you’ve decided that you’re ready to invest in a Rolex, it is important to take the time to understand what you are purchasing.  See the information below from our Rolex expert with over 30 years of experience.  All of the watches on our site come with a certified authenticity report upon request.

Real vs Fake Rolex Watches

How to Spot a Fake Rolex Watch - Bob's Watches

How to Spot a Fake Rolex Watch

Rolex timepieces are one of the most coveted luxury items in the world. So, consequently, there is a huge market for replica (fake) watches. Most of these fraudulent watches are made in China but research shows that production is spreading throughout all of Asia. These forged timepieces typically sell for $25 to $200 and the quality has gotten increasingly better over the past years.  The modern Rolex Datejust collection and Rolex Submariner are prime targets for these replicas.

Even experienced dealers can get fooled by bogus watches. Some knock-offs are easy to spot right away, while other, more sophisticated, counterfeit Rolex watches may be much more challenging to identify. With that said, it can be difficult for a novice to know how to tell if a Rolex is fake. To help protect yourself from dishonest sellers and imitation merchandise, we have compiled a list of the hallmarks of a genuine timepiece. Read carefully to ensure that you are not fooled by counterfeit watches.

Before You Begin, Know Your Seller

Bob's Watches Lobby - Bob's Watches

The Lobby of Bob’s Watches

The easiest way to prevent the purchase of a reproduction or phony wristwatch is to buy from a reputable and trusted seller. There are plenty of reputable dealers, but it never hurts to do your homework to ensure that you get a genuine timepiece. Google does a very good job of showing you the most established, trusted retailers to help safeguard against non-genuine models from entering the market.

Think that’s enough? Think again. Your due diligence should not end there. Many of these trustworthy dealers, including but not limited to Bob’s Watches provide a guarantee of authenticity with every sale. Our in-house buyers meticulously inspect each watch in our inventory and, when necessary, the timepieces are restored and serviced by our service center using only 100% authentic Rolex parts.

Beware of Ebay & Craigslist Reproductions

On the other hand, websites such as Ebay and Craigslist are only platforms that bring buyers and sellers together, thus are not accountable for what is being sold. Such sites are often plagued with fraudulent goods and it’s difficult to find trusted and honest Rolex vendors. It could be a dangerous place if you don’t already know how to tell a fake Rolex. For that reason, we never recommend eBay or Craigslist.

Rolex Only Produces Quality Timepieces

Top 10 Ways To Spot a Fake Rolex

Top 10 Ways To Spot a Fake Rolex

Rolex is one of the most coveted luxury brands on the planet known for quality, durability, style, and prestige. The company uses the best steel on earth called “904L steel”, which is more rust and corrosion resistant. Rolex also makes, alloys and rolls its own precious metals to ensure the exact integrity of every watch. Everything is crafted to absolute perfection, so take a closer look at the case, crown, hands, bezel, bracelet, and clasp – if anything comes across as sub-par quality, then you can be pretty sure it’s not the real deal.

The Top Ten Ways to Spot a Fake or Counterfeit Rolex

1. Serial & Model Number Stamping

Real vs Fake Rolex Serial Numbers - Bob's Watches

Fake vs. Real Rolex Serial Numbers

The serial and model numbers on a genuine Rolex are deep and perfectly marked in solid, very fine lines that will actually glow in the light at an angle like a diamond cut edge. Conversely, the numbers on a fake, or replica, are typically made up of faint tiny dots due to a lower quality marking process. In other cases, these numbers on counterfeit watches will have a sandy-like appearance from being “acid etched” as shown in the photo above on the left.

2. Stampings

real vs fake rolex stampings - Bob's Watches

Real vs Fake Rolex Stampings

Replica watches come in different grades and the really low-quality phony ones don’t even bother to put the Rolex name or famous crown logo on the watch. This, of course, is a dead giveaway that you are dealing with an inauthentic piece.

3. Movement

real vs fake rolex movements - Bob's Watches

If you open up a watch, the movements should be a dead giveaway. 

The movement that powers a Rolex is an exercise in master watchmaking skill. A replica watch cannot match the craftsmanship, dedication, precision, and knowledge invested into each genuine caliber bona fide movement will always have “Rolex” engraved on it, which you can only see if you open up the watch.

Something else to consider is that the majority of the brands watches have mechanical movements, so if you’re looking at a quartz, that could be a red flag since only a very limited quantity of quartz watches throughout their history have been produced.

4. Dial

Real vs Fake Rolex Dials - Bob's Watches

You can tell the watch of the left is fake because of the difference in quality

The dial of an original is perfect, so if you see any uneven fonts, inconsistent spaces between the lettering, smudges, and/or misspellings on the watch then it is absolutely a fake.

5. Cyclops

real vs fake rolex cyclops - Bob's Watches

The cyclops on the left does not magnify the date enough. A real Rolex would magnify the date by 2.5 times

The Cyclops, in Rolex parlance, is the magnifying lens above the date window on the face of their watches. On a genuine timepiece, the Cyclops is convex and magnifies the date 2.5 times for ease of readability. If, on the watch you’re considering, the magnification lens is flat and the date isn’t magnified as such, then you are dealing with a forgery.  To spot counterfeit watches you need to pay close attention to every detail.

6. Waterproof

waterproof rolex test - Bob's Watches

A Rolex Submariner undergoing a water test

Rolex wristwatches are built to be waterproof, while forged versions will not withstand a proper water test. However, we strongly discourage using a water test if you doubt that the piece is real since it will likely ruin the watch, preventing you from being able to return it. If you believe your have a non genuine timepiece have it inspected by a reputable professional.

7. Weight

real vs fake rolex weight - Bob's Watches

Real vs Fake Rolex Weight

A genuine Rolex will have some weight to it because they are exclusively manufactured from the finest materials. A counterfeit watch will feel lighter and flimsy due to cheaper construction materials.  If your watch doesn’t have any heft to it you are likely dealing with a counterfeit.

8. Clear Caseback

Fake Clear Caseback vs Real Rolex Case Back - Bob's Watches

Fake Clear Caseback vs Real Rolex Case Back

With the exception of a couple of very rare vintage models produced in the 1930s, Rolex does not equip their watches with clear casebacks, so beware of replica watches that have a clear window with a view of the movement on the back of the watch’s case.

9. Caseback Engravings

Real vs Fake Rolex Engravings - Bob's Watches

A real Rolex will almost never have engraving on the back. Engravings on the back almost always mean the watch is a forgery.

Except for just a few rare instances, like the vintage Rolex Sea Dweller, COMEX, Military watches and some older rare models, Rolex does not engrave the exterior of their casebacks with words, logos, or pictures (a majority of the time). If the watch you’re looking at features engravings on the back of the watch’s case, then chances are you have a fake Rolex or imitation replica watch. In addition, some authentic older lady Rolex Datejust models like the 6917, 69173 and 69174 have “Stainless Steel” and “Registered Design” on the back.

10. Micro-etched Crystal

Micro Etched Crystal - Bob's Watches

Micro Etched Crystal

In 2002, Rolex began micro-etching a tiny crown logo at the 6 o’clock position on the crystal that protects the dial. If you’re looking at buying a Rolex made in 2002 onward, look for this marking for proof of authenticity. Since it’s so small, it is difficult to see with the naked eye.  This detail also makes it difficult for counterfeit watches to include.

Eliminate Risks When Buying Authentic Rolex Watches

While there are countless people who are incredibly happy with their watches, there are some owners who are looking to sell a Rolex. When you’re in the market for a pre-owned wristwatch you want to be absolutely sure of your choice before making it final, so eliminate the risk of ending up with an imitation watch by trusting in Bob’s Watches. You won’t find counterfeit watches on our site.  That is because our specialists have done the homework for you, so you can rest easy knowing that any timepiece you buy from us is guaranteed to be 100% genuine. We are also always available to answer any questions you may have regarding the models we have in stock and we encourage you to get in touch with us should you have any questions.

Rolex Watches - Fake vs Real - Bob's Watches

Fake vs Real Rolex Watches


You Can Find The Original Version of This Page Below

If you’re looking for a real quality watch to buy that will last you more than a lifetime, there is really no better choice than a Rolex. Over the years it has withstood the test of time and has proven to be not only durable, but a great investment too. Some folks purchase a brand new model from an authorized Rolex dealer and thus do not need to be concerned about buying a watch that may not be 100% genuine Rolex. But for those looking to save money by buying a pre-owned Rolex watch, or used Rolex, or even a vintage Rolex watch, we have created this quick tutorial guideline to help you with your purchasing decisions. A good used Rolex watch can last a lifetime and is a great asset to pass down to future generations. However, counterfeit fake Rolex watches are getting much better and becoming increasing more difficult to identify. So we, at Bob’s Watches, decided to compile a list of the ten best ways to spot a fake Rolex. Watch our video here on how to spot a fake Rolex. Here they are:

1. The Price

If you’re looking at a Rolex and it is being sold for three hundred dollars or less, then its is almost certain to be a fake Rolex. The simple truth is that luxurious Rolex watch models are not inexpensive items so if the deal sounds to good to be true, it usually is. Be careful. An easy way to check is to find a similar model watch on our website and see what they are being priced at. You can also visit ebay to see what similar items have sold for. Real, genuine, 100% authentic watches, even used, start at about $2,000 minimum on our site.

Don't buy a Rolex here - Bob's Watches

Fake Rolex Way Turn Here

2. The Location

Just like in real estate “Location. Location. Location” is very, very important with watches. If you’re buying a Rolex on a side alley or at a local swap meet the chances are a lot higher that this watch is a fake. You are much better off buying a watch from a reputable business that has a good reputation to uphold. Even eBay can be questionable as sellers can appear and then disappear very quickly, leaving you with counterfeit watches. We do NOT recommended ebay to people since you are not really buying from ebay: you are buying from the seller that is just using ebay like a Craigslist to sell their watch. As we all say in the business, “Buy the seller, then the watch”. This means that the Seller, or merchant, is more important that the watch itself. It is his guarantee behind the watch that matters most. You want to buy your Rolex from a business that you can hold accountable for their actions. Before ordering your Rolex online, we highly recommend that you call the merchant and ask questions. You want to make sure you are dealing with a “real watch store” and one that, preferably, is located in the US. All of this should help you ensure your Rolex is 100% authentic.


The right magnification of a Rolex - Bob's Watches

The right magnification of a Rolex

3. The Magnification

Once you have the Rolex in front of you where you can can view it with your own eyes there a lot more ways to tell if it’s real or fake. On Rolex watches with a date (DateJust, Submariner, etc…) the date has to be very small to work properly and so Rolex adds a magnification glass, or Cyclops window, to allow the wearer to see it more easily. On all Rolex models the magnification is 2.5X so

the date really jumps out at you. On fake Rolex watches the magnification is often much lower at 1.5X so the date looks small and more difficult to see. This is a huge tell tale sign of a fake Rolex.

4. The Resilience to Water

Although Rolex Submariner timepieces are the only watches designed for deep see diving all models like the Rolex Yachtmaster are water proof and perfectly sealed. Once you have the watch dip it in a cup of water for a few seconds and take it out. Before doing this, PLEASE be sure that the crown is securely tightened/screwed in. If there is any leaking of water into the watch on the dial or anything the watch is definitely a fake. All Rolex watches are 100% water tight and some counterfeit watches are not.

5. The Model Number Compared to the Metal

Often times counterfeited Rolex watches will try to cheap out by making a normally expensive model in cheaper metals to gain more profit. You should always check the model number of the Rolex you are buying online to make sure that it matches up with type of metal in the watch you are buying. A rule of thumb with the commonly counterfeited Rolex President: All Rolex President watches with the day (Monday, Tuesday, etc…) and the date (21,22,23…) are made out of platinum or gold not stainless steel and not two tone. If someone tries to sell you a stainless President they are cheating you.

The Writing on a Rolex Submariner - Bob's Watches

Check this writing for anything but perfection.

6. The Writing on the Dial

Everything on a Rolex is made to perfection. Without having to open up the watch it is easy to see this from the writing on the dial distinguishing the model and other features. With a magnifying glass examine all the lettering on the dial. The writing should be convex (outward) and there should be no bubbling. It should be relatively pristine. If the writing is far from perfect then you know you are not dealing with a real Rolex.

7. The Case Back (the part of the watch opposite to the face)

Another easy way to spot a fake Rolex is that many have case backs that are made out of glass, plastic, or crystal so you can see the inner workings of a watch. Almost all Rolex watches do not have clear case backs and the only reason we have to say almost is there are two extremely rare models or Rolex from the 1930s that did in fact have case backs made of glass. So if you are buying a relatively modern Rolex with a clear case back it is a fake. Also Rolex does not ingrave anything on the case back’s exterior. However things are engraved on the interior.

Clean Rolex Engraving - Bob's Watches

Your Rolex engraving should look like this.

8. The Engraving

Again, everything on a Rolex is perfect there are no mess ups or misspellings or anything. The engravings are a perfect example of this. The engravings are a little harder to reach sometimes. (This is why this is number 8 on the top 10 ways to spot a fake Rolex) There are usually some on the interior of the band of the watch towards the actual face, but to see the engravings for the serial and model number you have to take of the band. Taking of the band is relatively simple you just need a thumb tack with which u can push in the joints holding the band to the watch through the holes on the side of the watch or the bottom of the watch if there are no holes. Once you have it open you should examine the engravings with a magnifying glass. They shouldn’t appear sandy or misshapen. They should be perfectly cut. Also you should use this model number when you look up the watch to check if it’s the right one. The model number is on the 12 o’clock side of the watch.

9. The Inner Workings

You need special tools to view this one. With special Rolex tools you can unscrew the case back and view the gears and inner workings of the watch. Everything should generally be different colors and again everything should be perfect. There should be an engraving on the inside of the watch that says something like “Geneva, Switzerland” the metal type and the model number. This engraving should be perfect as well. View the pictures below to see what the inside should look like.

How the inside of your Rolex should look - Bob's Watches

The inside of your Rolex should look like this!

10. Ticking

Listen closely. If you hear loud ticking from your watch this Rolex is a definite fake. Rolex watches do not make the ticking noises common with other watches. Counterfeiters can’t often perfect the gears and so a ticking noise is made and this can really help you spot fakes quite easily.

Misconceptions: One the biggest misconception is that the second hand of Rolex watches is a perfect sweep. This is not true most models of Rolex tick at eight ticks or movements per second so it is not a continuous sweep. Also some models move at slower speeds.

If you want a real Rolex you can always find them at the first pre-owned Rolex Exchange Bob’s Watches where you can trade, sell rolex, or buy pre-owned Rolex watches at great prices. If you have any questions or want to know if your Rolex is fake or real give us a call at 1(800)494-3708 and we’d be glad to help you out.




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