Last week we covered Rolex’s interpretation of a non-genuine Rolex wristwatch and the problem of Frankenwatches. This week we’ll cover some of the tell-tale signs of the inexpensive cheap fake Rolex watches. Even with fake Rolex watches, there are quality levels that distinguish the obvious fakes from the indistinguishable fake Rolex. Rolex assists with distinguishing the obviously fake Rolex by adding some authenticity features during the design and manufacturing process which we’ll point out in a later post.
Rule 1 – Buy the Seller, not the Watch
This is a well known adage among watch collectors is what is known as “buying the seller.” Many times buying a wristwatch is an emotional proposition making it easy to pass over tell tale signs that the watch and the seller are not genuine. Needless to say, this is why you want to work with reputable watch dealers like Fourtané.
Unscrupulous watch dealers typically do not have a storefront, sell exclusively on the web (many times with multiple or changing web addresses), or out on the street or flea markets. I approached one street vendor and inquired why their Rolex models were so inexpensive. The response was that “they are made in Rolex’s Guatemalan factory.”
Rule 2 – If it is an older Rolex model being pitched as pre-owned, take a pass.
If you are looking for deal in the pre-owned market, work exclusively with reputable pre-owned watch dealers like Fourtané. Many of the older Rolex models do not have the authenticity mechanisms that Rolex includes in their current models, which makes it easy for mis-identifying a genuine Rolex with a fake or frankenwatch Rolex. Review Rule #1.
Rule 3 – Check for the tell-tale signs
A modern Rolex movement runs at 28,800 beats per hour (BPH), or 8 beats per second. Look at the watch face and follow the end of the second hand between the second markers; -you should see the second hand bump slightly and quickly each second marker. If the second hand moves once per second, the movement is obviously quartz.
The only two notable exceptions to this trick is the Rolex OysterQuartz and the Rolex Tru-Beat. The OysterQuartz was Rolex’s quartz contribution during the Swiss quartz crisis of the late 1970’s and 1980’s. The Rolex Tru-Beat movement is Rolex technological marvel that was a mechanical movement but the second hand moved in one-second increments. Both the Rolex OysterQuartz and Tru-Beat are extremely rare wristwatches that are rarely seen on the street.
Listen to the movement:
Even though the movement might be running at 28,800 BPH, it doesn’t guarantee that it is a Rolex movement. 28,800 BPH is an industry standard that applies to numerous movements. While listening to the watch, listen for 28,800 BPH as well as listen for the oscillating rotor that winds the mainspring. The oscillating rotor should run silently, and for newer model Rolex, should not rattle when moving the watch from a watch face to caseback direction.
Examine the date cyclops:
Rolex date cyclops located at 3:00 o’clock above the date window should magnify the date by 2.5 times and should take up the entire date window in the watch face and when viewing in the cyclops.
Examine the winding stem:
The winding stem should unscrew from a tube extending from the case. If the stem just pulls out, it’s a fake. Once the stem is unscrewed, rotate the hour and minute hands until the date changes. The date should change instantaneously at midnight. If the date begins to change at 10:00pm, it’s a fake. The Rolex date wheel changes precisely at midnight, hence the name Quickset Date and DateJust in the Rolex vocabulary.
Next week we’ll examine some of the authenticity features that Rolex includes in their watch design. If you ever have a question whether a Rolex wristwatch is authentic, bring it into Fourtané for their watch experts to verify authenticity.
– Sheldon Smith