Although imitation is a form of flattery, Rolex does not see anything funny about knock-off watches, -from brand deterioration as a result of cheap quality watches sporting Rolex logos to the revenue loss that funds Rolex research, brand marketing, and company growth. A fake is a fake, no matter how original or genuine a fake Rolex appears. For many people, a fake Rolex only reflects the value of the person who is selling it or wearing it. Over the next few articles, I’ll cover what is considered a fake Rolex, some easy methods to spot a bad-fake Rolex, and the ramifications fake watches has on the industry.
According to Rolex, any Rolex wristwatch with any non-Rolex certified part is considered a fake. Replacing the original Rolex strap for an Everest, RubberB, or a Nato strap changes the watch in Rolex’s eye. Performing any type of customization such a see through caseback, or changing the watch face to a different color not associated with that specific model, a diamond encrusted bezel, or any other modification Rolex considers the watch non-genuine and a Rolex Service Center will not service it. Don’t be afraid to experiment with watch straps or any other cosmetic customization, just be sure that you can reverse it prior to sending to Rolex. Additionally, there are plenty of Rolex Certified watchmakers who will service the watch.
Rolex considers their watches perfect when the leave a Rolex Authorized Dealer such as Fourtané. If there was a needed change, Rolex would have already considered it. Even though people customize their vehicles and homes to fit their personal tastes, Rolex does not allow for customizations and they do it for good reason, and that reason is what is known in the industry as Frankenwatches. Frankenwatches, like Frankenstein, are Rolex watches that are part original and part fake, non-original, and frankly, sometimes bizarre.
The Frankenwatch market is where the seedy fake watch world and the legitimate pre-owned markets collide which many times both dealers and consumers don’t recognize. Here’s some historical background. When the economy is growing and in a period of recovery like we are now after the Great Recession, demand for high end watches increases, including Rolex. When the retail watch world demand increases, the pre-owned watch world enjoys an increase as well. The reverse is also true, -when the economy tanks watch demand also tanks, and that is where Subsequently, where the problems with Frankenwatches start.
In order to keep cashflow moving, unscrupulous watch dealers take a genuine new or pre-owned Rolex and modify them in various ways such that the same watch can be sold twice. Unscrupulous dealers will take a genuine Rolex watch and remove original parts and replace then with fake/non-genuine parts. A common trick is to remove the Rolex movement and replace it with a much less quality model. The removed movement is sold separately, or stripped for parts, or reinstalled in a CAD designed Rolex replica designed case. The watch itself appears 100% genuine on the outside, complete with genuine box and papers, but with non-genuine parts on the inside. This is how one watch can be sold twice.
The same is true when unscrupulous dealers remove the watch face, sell it on the side, and replace with a genuine-appearing watch face with diamonds, or special painting on the dial to make it look genuine and rare. A problem with the vintage Paul Newman Daytona’s floating around the Internet is that many of the dials on them are fake. The only difference between the genuine Paul Newman Daytona watch, and the regular Daytona was the dial. A Paul Newman dial brings with it a stratospheric valuation for a rare watch face, and the reason for the many copies of the watch face installed on a genuine Rolex Daytona.
– Sheldon Smith