How to identify a fake watch?

I get this question all the time and the answer is: It can be a bit tricky! To spot a fake from an original (unless you see Lolex on the dial instead of Rolex!) is not always straight-on, but once you’re done reading this post, hopefully you will be able to tell the difference.

  • First, always look for the model and whether it exists in the brands' collection. If you can’t find the model in the collection, then it most likely is a counterfeit.  On occasion, there have been some cases of watch manufacturers making one off pieces, so if you have checked through the watch and it all seems to be genuine but you are still unsure of the model, send it to the manufacturer.
  • Second, always make sure there is serial and reference number that match to the timepiece. Usually the watch manufacturer releases a list of the entire serial and reference numbers it has produced, along with the year. You can always find these lists online. The reference number is usually between the lugs or in the case back. Confirming the reference or serial number is a sure way to know whether the watch is a fake.
Reference/serial numbers of Rolexes are found between the lugs

Reference/serial numbers of Rolexes are found between the lugs.



Bracelets and cases of most watches are given a reference number.

  • Have a proper look at the dial. The dial is the ‘face’ of the watch and one of the easiest ways to tell if the watch is a counterfeit. Look out for any spelling or logo mistakes. In addition to these, if the dial is painted, look at how it is painted. On vintage watches, the dials are often re-painted so you have to really scrutinize the paint job done.
The dial is an easy way of telling if the watch is a counterfeit

The dial is generally the easiest way of telling if the watch is a counterfeit.

  • The Movement of the watch is the heart of the watch. Whatever the movement is, that is what you should find in the case! However some movements are made specifically for certain models so you can check whether that movement was available in the year the watch was produced.
  • "Franken Watches"..These are the most common types of “fraud” watches on the market. A Franken watch is a watch where it is made of different components (they can be genuine or fake parts). Most Franken watches are found on eBay. Usually a Franken watch looks genuine so careful analysis of each part is a must!

Keep in mind that these tips are a guide and that there is no set formula to ensuring your watch is a counterfeit.

When in doubt - visit us for consultation at Momentum in the DIFC!

So there you have it, a beginners guide to spotting a fake vintage watch.

Leave a comment

All comments are moderated before being published