How To Tell if a Rolex Is Real
Swiss-made Rolex watches are some of the most sought-after timepieces in the world. But this also means that counterfeiters frequently peddle knock-offs to make a quick buck. So whether you’re looking to certify and sell your Rolex watch or want to buy a vintage piece, you should be aware of the common signs of fake Rolex watches to know that you have the real thing. Here are some ways you can tell the difference between a fake and genuine Rolex watch.
The Second Hand
One of the unique features of a Rolex that makes it stand out from other watches is the smooth motion of the second hand ticking away. In a genuine Rolex, the second hand moves eight times per second, lending to its exceptionally smooth gliding with slight movements that are invisible to the naked eye. This craftsmanship is very hard to replicate, so in many knock-off Rolex timepieces, you’ll find that the second hand shivers or stutters as it moves.
And because of that stuttering, most counterfeits feature a louder ticking sound that’s pretty easy to hear. However, a real Rolex also doesn’t “tick” as other watches might. Since the second-hand moves so quickly, the sound of its ticking is so subtle that you can’t really hear it at all.
Genuine Swiss manufacturers make Rolex watches with high-quality metals and other materials, giving these watches quite a bit of heft to them. However, counterfeiters don’t use quality materials, so they make distinctly lighter watches, often by 20 grams or more.
Rolex watches feature luxurious style and fine detail in all aspects, including the winder on the side. Real Rolex watches have an artful engraving on the winder’s top, while fakes opt for generic winders or poorly crafted engravings on the winder. For example, a genuine Rolex and a fake one may both have the crown logo and three dots engraved onto the winder’s top. In addition, the real watch’s logo will be gently raised with smooth edges, while the fake’s winder crown logo is flatter with rougher edges.
The Cyclops Lens
Many Rolex watches feature a cyclops lens on top of the crystal of the watch face, just above the date number. You can tell whether this Rolex is legit or not by confirming a few different characteristics. First, the cyclops lens is convex, so it curves outward like a small bubble on the watch face. If you have a Rolex with a cyclops lens that doesn’t look like it protrudes, it’s likely a fake.
Second, the cyclops lens is meant to magnify the date number so that the wearer can better see it. Typically, this lens magnifies the number 2.5 times. If your watch’s cyclops lens doesn’t magnify the number, creating a small fish-eye appearance, it’s likely a fake.
Third, the date number under the cyclops lens on a genuine Rolex changes automatically at midnight to the next day rather than slowly turning throughout the night, showing a half number. Many fakes feature the mid-roll number in the evening, meaning it doesn’t change automatically. This is a sure sign that the watch is a fake.
The Serial Number
Every Rolex has a model number, also known as a style or reference number, indicating the watch’s style, bezel type, and the materials used. You can research this reference number to ensure that everything lines up, including the metal types used. Each watch also has a unique serial number.
You can also look at how the model and serial numbers are engraved. First, remove the bracelet; you’ll find the serial number between the lugs at the 6 o’clock position and the model number at the 12 o’clock position. Then, check to see if the number is deeply engraved. You can hold it up to the light and see the glow around the edges of the engraving, catching the light like a diamond. However, you’ll notice that the engraving isn’t as deep or as neat on a fake Rolex.
The Crown Logos
On many Rolex watches, there are a few signature crown/coronet logos that appear on the watch. The first is the brand name plus the coronet at the top center of the watch face. This logo is perfectly centered on the watch face and is slightly raised. However, many fakes forget this feature and only have the brand name on the watch face.
Another crown logo to look out for is the one located at 6 o’clock. It’s tiny and typically requires a magnifying glass or microscope to view properly. But since 2001, Rolex has been laser-etching the coronet logo into the glass, as opposed to on the front or back surface of the glass, to thwart counterfeiters better. When you encounter a fake, you’ll notice that if there is an etched logo, it looks much clearer since it’s likely etched on the glass. But a genuine Rolex features a more subtle logo because it’s been etched inside the glass, which is very hard to replicate.
The Case Back
The case back on a Rolex is one of the easiest places to spot whether it’s genuine or fake.
First, Rolex made very few timepieces with clear backs, with the exceptions being exhibition pieces. However, many fakes come with clear backs, showing the inner workings of the watch. While it may be an interesting feature, it’s a pretty good sign that the watch isn’t a genuine Rolex.
Second, it’s also not common for genuine Rolex watches to have engravings on the case back. However, many counterfeiters include engravings on the case backs to make them look more authentic. One exception you might find is a personal engraving from a previous owner.
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