Buyer Beware: The Rise of Counterfeit Luxury Watches on the Internet


Looking for cheap watches on the internet? Better think twice before making that purchase. In this in-depth feature from the WatchTime archives, we explore how sales of these counterfeit watches are hurting both collectors and the watch industry.

For some watch collectors, the temptation is just too much. “I have seen quite respectable watch collectors with nice collections who couldn’t get their hands on that one limited-edition piece that they wanted,” says Beatrice de Quervain, a veteran U.S. watch executive and most recently head of Hublot North America. “They always buy from their authorized dealer, but then, just for that one piece, they broke down and went to an unauthorized source on the Internet. And sure enough, they got burned. They paid $20,000, $25,000.” What they got, de Quervain says, was a counterfeit.

Counterfeit Rolex
A counterfeit Rolex watch seized by German customs officials in 2012

De Quervain’s comments came at a recent meeting of the American Watch Association to discuss the problem of counterfeit watches. AWA invited WatchTime to sit in on the meeting.

The message from the assembled watch company executives and their legal counsels is that, more than ever, watch collectors must be aware – and beware – of the dangers of buying brand-name luxury watches through unauthorized dealers, particularly retail watch sites on the Internet.

That’s because of a recent spike in production of so-called “superfakes,” counterfeit reproductions of popular name-brand models, made primarily in China, that bear a remarkable resemblance to the real thing. “Twenty years ago the fakes were really fake,” says Michael Benavente, managing director of Gucci Watches & Jewelry North America. “You looked at it really quick and you could see it was trash.”

Confiscated Counterfeit Watches
Fake watches confiscated by Switzerland’s customs authority in 2008

Not anymore. These days, watch executives swap stories about counterfeit watches that are such spitting images of the real McCoys that the brands themselves have trouble spotting them. It’s not just the imitation of what the industry calls “the appearance parts” (case, dial, bracelet, etc.); it’s also the quality of the mechanical movements inside. Michel Arnoux, head of the anti-counterfeiting unit of the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry (FH), cites a counterfeit Hublot Big Bang tourbillon watch seized by Swiss customs officials. Everything about the watch seemed like a real Hublot, down to the vanilla-scented rubber strap. Only on closer inspection did he find tell-tale signs of a fake: a piece of plastic in the case where carbon should be, a crystal that should have been nonreflective, but wasn’t. But what was most striking was the movement. “That was one of the first times I’ve held in my hand a fake tourbillon watch, a real high-precision mechanism,” Arnoux told Swiss Broadcasting Corp.’s swissinfo.ch news agency. “The counterfeiters have now mastered ultra-complex movements.”

Almost every luxury Swiss watch brand is dealing with the superfake phenomenon, says AWA’s chairman, Jon Omer, former head of DeWitt America LLC. “We are now faced with a new onslaught, which is getting bigger. We’re talking about pieces being sold in excess of $50,000 and $100,000 that are counterfeit watches. Everyone has to contend with it.” Including watch collectors, Omer says. AWA claims that the only protection a consumer has is to buy from an authorized dealer. (Counterfeit watches should not be confused with so-called “gray-market” watches. Unlike counterfeits, gray-market watches are produced by a brand, but sold outside the brand’s authorized retail network. As with counterfeits, AWA opposes the importation and sale of gray-market goods in the United States.)

AWA and its 30-plus member watch companies have been contending with counterfeiters for decades. The watch companies act independently to protect their trademarks and branded products. Some of them spend fortunes annually in a multi-front battle, working with U.S. Customs and federal, state, and local law-enforcement agencies, and even their own private investigators, to fight criminals who steal their intellectual property (IP).

Counterfeit Patek Philippe watch
A counterfeit Patek Philippe watch seized by U.S. Customs

Washington-based AWA works on the legislative and regulatory front. AWA is not a traditional trade association that offers a wide array of member services. Its mission is very specific: to be the voice of its members in Washington, ensuring that the watch industry has input into legislation affecting it on a host of issues ranging from tariffs to regulations on alligator and reptile watch bands to mercury levels in button-cell watch batteries. The association’s legal counsel is the prominent Washington, D.C., law firm Covington & Burling.

In the counterfeit fight, AWA has played an important role. “The association was the prime catalyst in moving the 1984 Trademark Anti-counterfeiting Act through the U.S. House of Representatives and on to final enactment,” says Executive Director Emilio “Toby” Collado. That act made counterfeiting a felony for the first time. A decade later, AWA led the way in drafting and lobbying for stronger weapons against counterfeiters. “We organized the multi-industry coalition that won enactment of the 1996 act which toughened penalties and gave trademark owners stronger search and seizure rights.”

These days AWA is working to pass the so-called “Rogue Websites Bill” (the Protect IP Act of 2011) which would help to shut down Internet sites that sell counterfeit watches. That battle is ongoing, Collado says, in the face of stiff opposition from the Internet industry. “In addition, we are working with others to increase punishments for repeat intellectual property offenders and for IP crimes involving gangs and organized criminal enterprises.”

77 Responses to “Buyer Beware: The Rise of Counterfeit Luxury Watches on the Internet”

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  1. John Britton

    Avoid guys I got ripped off to the tune of £360 watch never received. Don’t buy from these Chinese fraudsters.

    Reply
  2. John Britton

    I paid £360 for a replica Rolex and Box, paid my hard earned money they never sent the watch. Kept saying sorry out of stock choose another, when I choose another they say out of stock choose another. I demanded a refund they are now not answering my emails. Avoid buying Chinese Replica watches at all costs.

    Reply
  3. WJ Hawkins

    The real subtext here is grey markets, and how the Internet is forcing new business models on the Manufactures. The solution is very easy — boutiques/retail channels should start offering deals to key clients, and Manufactures should set up their own WWW sites ASAP (no splits), with attendant customer support, for their wonderful goods. (Channel conflict here between boutiques/retail channels and WWW sites has long been solved by even idiots with MBAs.) A pricepoint on these WWW sites for their wonderful goods and (hopefully wonderful) services should be something like10-25% above Internet averages, depending on product. The services buildout here will be the kicker, as Manufactures seem too arrogant to do this. If so, game over…

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  4. I have done a research regarding service between the replica and original brand, the surprising part is that a bracelet from the brand took me 2 months to arrive, and when it arrrived I had to live them the watch for another month to make them service and put the bracelet, but that was not all, they call me and told me it should me sent to their plant and it would take a couple of months, and after 1,000 dollars and 5 months I got it back, sonó also got this same replica model and I invented a problem to them, the surprising part is that they sent me a new replica movement and 2 weeks later it was working, one watch costs 20,000 with a disgusting service and the other is 500 with a great service, this makes me think a lot what will I buy next, or what original manufacturers should offer.

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  5. Rhett Reyski

    As watch prices climb and the economy declines, it becomes more apparent I cannot risk wearing nice pieces without some thought of security for a casual walk in the park or consider living in Monaco. My everyday watch needs to compliment my lifestyle needs. So a world timer and a real chronograph all in one minimally. In the mechanical world there’s only a few makers in this area. So instead of fakes I usually consider a lower priced brand and even then security thoughts still come to mind.

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  6. nowadays even if you wear a real one everyone I gonna think it’s a fake the rich have been wearing fake jewellery instead of their real ones in case they get robbed the real stuff is in the bank

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    • Some basic advice is needed here. If you wish to purchase a watch for status too impress on lookers, which by the way to any true timepiece aficionado is of course totally ridiculous, my advice is definitely go directly to an authorised dealer. For the true watch collector or someone who would like a classic discontinued production mode, do you’re own research, you would not buy a car without having it checked in advance so you should always take the same approach to purchasing you’re vintage watch. Now obviously buying on the internet does have it’s pitfalls but you can lessen the risk and support the industry by doing you’re research first. Bare in mind even vintage watches are being convincingly faked. For example the “Fortis Marine Master” is a worrying example. This brand is one you would not associate with imitations, yet they have flooded the market. The case back often has a spelling mistake and unscrupulous sellers polish the shallow engravings down to a smooth finish so the flaw is undetectable. So even some lesser known brands are affected. For the true vintage watch collector this is a very great concern and does untold damage to the collectible end of the market. So be cautious with you’re approach, if you like a brand then do you’re forum research, talk to other more seasoned collectors, ask them to have a look at auctions sites before you bid if you are unsure and even buy a reference book to arm you’re self with as much information as possible. Watch collecting is very enjoyable whether you purchase new or vintage and we need to support the industry that bring us these wonderful mechanical marvels as a whole.

      Reply
  7. Lori Thomas

    If luxury brands were more welcome to potential customers, I believe the market and demand for fakes and replicas would disappear. I have visited Tourneau and brand boutiques and have been dismissed and rudely treated. I finally purchased a Rolex and Omega from jewelry store ADs because they offered to display and allowed me to try on the watches I wanted to purchase. Customer service is a disappearing and must return to the service of mantra of luxury brand sellers to disrupt the fake, counterfeit and replica market.

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    • i totally agree, they give the consumer almost no reason to buy from the authorized dealer over a well known gray market retailer. My experience in the last couple of years with two well known swiss brands confirms this. Both watches were purchased from the authorized dealer both had issues with the movement within a couple months of purchase, both times when i returned to the store i was met with accusations of mistreating the watch such as dropping it (did not happen). Eventually both watches were sent back to the manufacturer in one case they wanted to charge me for shipping, and only after the sales person pointed out to management that i was a repeat customer did they agree not to. In both cases the watch was gone for months (almost a year in one case) and one was returned to me with a scratch on the dial, that they had to ship back out to correct. They main selling point that ive been given for buying authorized dealer vs grey market is warranty and after purchase service. in the two instances ive needed this the experience was horrific. For the future ill save my money and go gray. Most offer their own warranty and service plan and i cant see how it could be any worse.

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  8. Aaron LLoyd

    Fakes have there place i use um as full scale models of timepieces the only the richest and most privileged can obtain! Replicas of names like Greubel Forsey, Mille, Patek aren’t fooling anyone but there good to look at and collect,…..~A~

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  9. Jim Rhodes

    Recently I was reading some information on counterfeiting. I’m not certain of the most effective contact in your organization. However, I would like to suggest that my firm, SignaKey, may have an approach that would work for you. I am hoping you can help me to discover the person or persons who would be most interested in eliminating the counterfeit challenge.

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  10. Just wanted to comment on the overpriced thing yes they are physically identical but that does not mean that they are made of the same materials they use very low quality inexpensive materials that can be form to look like The Real McCoy there is not a chance on God’s green that the replica will run and perform anywhere close to the same amount of time the authentic Ones Will even though it’s identical and when a crown falls off in 12 months or one of the markers on the dial are sliding around inside because you bumped your watch on your car door the real one is vastly superior it’s kind of like putting something in the engine of a car to make it perform like it should it’s just putting a bandaid on it yes it will work like the real deal for a short amount of time but then you actually find out what you got bracelet somehow magically pops out when you’re using your wrist to sit up that would never happen on a Rolex how many items can you buy something that will retain it’s value for the next 45 years I bet you can’t even fill up one hand and I bet you can’t even name one that you could use every day for that. Of time so those of you who say they are overpriced please sit down the pipe just because you would not pay that does not mean that it’s overpriced that means is you are not willing to buy it or do not have the means to buy and that is your way of justifying it but just remember excuses only satisfy the ones who makes them do you could be a hunter and have a $2,000 shotgun does that mean because I would not pay that for a shotgun it is overpriced probably not value is a perceived thing my watch collection is or has performed probably better then your 401k has over the last 10 years if they are overpriced how could they possibly perform better than your retirement account your right it’s not possible and especially if you buy pre-owned only you can let the guy with the seven figure salary take the depreciation a pre-owned sport model Rolex essay about a $400 price difference from 1990 to 2010

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  11. I have done a lot of education on these super fakes so I do not get burned if you are buying a watch from a private party or something other than an authorized dealer I would highly recommend that you get it authenticated by a reputable authorized dealer and not by the sales guy have the in-house watchmaker authenticate it is well worth $100 fee why I recommend only the dealer is that your independent watchmaker does not have the same Focus on a single brand the people making the replicas produce new and improved versions they release one getfeedback on the minor differences and adjust accordingly their most recent advance is they are able to produce a Rolex ceramic bezel any color and are now capable of producing dual color ceramic bezels was supposed to be a proprietary process Rolex developed the Chinese used to just paint the second half and now it is the same color throughout and if you held just the bezel in your hands you could not tell the difference and they are so good that for that Single part 9 out of 10 manufacturer watchmakers would not be able to I also blame part of the problem on the Swiss in order to increase profit they are producing some of their parts in China and they have no regulation so they order 10000 the Chinese guys at the factory run 15000 and 5000 of The Real McCoy the anti-reflective coating and sapphire crystals are all produced in China in order to get Swiss made on the watch only 51% has to be produced and built in Switzerland so that means half the watch could be produced in China very very little of them are movement parts which is the brain of a watch but the bracelets case and Exteriors are farmed out to the lowest bidder do you have the guys in Switzerland who you have to pay $50 an hour produce those items or do you farm them out to China for 1 or $0.02 on the dollar when you’re talking Millions of units even a penny makes a significant difference they have perfected a Rolex Submariner they are on version 6 I have I’m very good eye and a lot of experience with Rolex they have even produce their own replica of the in-house movement so precise that you can transfer 100% of the parts to the authentic one the only way I have been able to tell and his quality of the Steal and the color of the metal just a few Shades off but you can hook them up and they will run plus or minus a couple seconds a day and beat at 28800 same results as an authentic one they even have the weight of the watch with in a half a gram they have even perfected the shade of blue on the new Loom also the intensity of the light indistinguishable by a human eye the dials are perfectly die struck and Rolex replaces the die when they get dull so you could have two of the same model year and there will be slight differences in the font as far as may be little extra leg on a letter the size of the hole on the crown and since they do not keep them absolutely identical a subtle mark here or there is completely normal I have heard of recent stories where they will purchase an authentic piece buy a super replica Mary a combo so they will take the factory movement and place it in a counterfeit case and bracelet so the watchmaker opens it up and he sees an authentic movement the replica movement goes in the real case and bracelet they even make the two-tone versions with solid gold links and bezels 90% of the super replicas do not get caught till they go back to the manufacturer for service and their quality is vastly improved so it may be five years later before you figure it out I bought a Panerai special edition it had boxes cosc certificate and scrolls the paperwork was authentic boxes too just modified I blame part of that on the dealer for being LAZY and not completing the paperwork leaving a large portion blank like giving a car theif the keys I’ve actually purchased super replicas for the sole purpose educating myself then I use them to practice watchmaking on if you dissect one you will know exactly what to look for one of the easiest Ways is the Chinese do not have quality control like Rolex 9 out of 10 will have tool marks on the movement and you never see those on a Rolex that has not been serviced before or the current model also the fake papers allways use a non us dealer reason being is it’s very easy to pick up the phone and call the selling dealer and give them the serial number they will be able to tell you if they sold it that’s why they do that butt you will never be able to find a Rolex dealer in Kuala Lumpur and if you happen to do that will they be able to speak English so watch that is in the US is from a out of the country dealer your alarm should be going off and paying an extra 5 – $800 to buy from a brick-and-mortar dealer it’s certainly worth every penny considering that 800 could have another zero behind it and you could have the very first $8,000 paperweight and if the guy shows up in a 2000 Ford Taurus and his shoes have Velcro on them chances are he does not have the ability to own that watch and nobody inherits current model Rolexes from dead relatives because relatives on their deathbed do not purchase new Rolexes also another heads-up the Chinese companies are now producing vintage Rolex sport models 1960s versions if it looks too new it’s probably not real and they do not replicate the Vintage movement comex submariners with the folded stainless steel vintage bracelet which is identical indistinguishable because 60s technology and craftsmanship is very easy to replicate because they were made by hand for the most part they are perfect they have human error also ask smart questions does this person have the means or capability to purchase a $10,000 less than 5% of the population make over 6 figures the car sales guy at the dealer probably can’t his boss definitely could and if he has an acronym in front of his title chances are he has the means and do your research on who buys that model online and what is the range they offer if a guy selling it for significantly less than he can walk into a place and sell it for chances are it’s a fake cuz how many people do you know that like to throw away cash I have yet to find anyone who does especially when you can sell it to a business and there is absolutely no risk versus buying from a private party how would you meet a stranger if he was going to offer you the same amount and you can walk into a regular business and sell it for maybe if you are a sneeze away from drooling permanently but that would be about it your biggest Safeguard is common sense don’t get emotions or feelings involved especially if you’re buying a Rolex

    Reply
    • Steven

      Maybe what you said was of interest but without something people who write use, called punctuation it was impossible to read. Would you consider throwing in a period, comma or perhaps a semicolon once in a while?

      Reply
  12. Quality homages of famous watch designs with another brand name (on the face, crown and maybe the watch case) are what I like. There are very few valid reasons for most high end watches to be priced in the stratosphere

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  13. To all who bought fakes. You are aiding and abetting theft of intellectual property. I’d never wear a fake brand or consume pirated media.

    Reply
  14. Sam Harris

    What drives me crazy is the prices of watches like AP. Sophisticated collectors all know that they are way over priced. Fifty percent hype. Hence the motivation to find a good looking fake.

    Reply
  15. TheKeystone

    With the of these fakes it’s becoming even more vital to have a source you trust and buy from with references and an established history. There are dealers, websites, auction houses that can be trusted and worked with. Sure you may end up paying a premium, but you’re paying a 5 or 10% for the insurance that you are buying an authentic piece. Guys buy watches on forums or on eBay from strangers and are surprised they got scammed? Buy smart.

    Reply
  16. fakewatchbusta

    Fake watches are illegal. Clone watches are illegal. Replica watches are illegal. Knock-off watches are illegal. Don’t support criminal organizations. fakewatchbusta is watching you.

    Reply
  17. We live in a fake society where women with fake women accents are admired, where wigs and hair coloring is adored, where truckloads of money is printed daily (do you know that 60% of money in world circulation of dollars are 100 dollar bills and the rest are 1,5, 10, 20 and 50 bucks notes!!! And majority of that money is not earned but printed???). Hey even majority of men and their potency is a pill induced? So why are we crying here that watches are being counterfeited.. ?
    What bothers me is that some big name can price their stainless watch at a third of average USA salary and some people proudly wear that watch on their wrists..yet China men make such an amazing fake that it takes an expert to detect it and yet they sell it at $200 and still make a profit on that piece??. So in all of this somebody is stupid, greedy, vain and not normal… China guy is just trying to make living in a system that is exploiting him but he needs to feed his family..To me he is more moral then the one that wears $10K stainless watch to be able to identify himself with what he wears and feel more manly..

    Reply
    • Daniel Katz

      Great points, had a good laugh while mostly agreeing with you Branko…thx

      Reply
  18. If the counterfeiters really can make watches of such quality that the experts have to examine specific parts within the movement to tell the difference, it’s a crying shame they don’t use that skill to make a quality watch and stamp their own name on it. I certainly don’t advocate what they are doing, but if there are Chinese watchmakers who can match the Swiss, I would tend to feel a little sympathy for them. The pervasive snobbery of the fine watch industry makes it such that if a hypothetical Chinese (or any nationality other than Swiss or German) company made a high quality timepiece, they would have to sell it for a pittance compared to the prices the Swiss charge for a comparable watch. Case in point, look at Grand Seiko. The quality of their watches easily surpasses that of Swiss watches that cost twice or even three to four times as much. They just don’t get a fair shake because they aren’t European.
    That said, maybe if watch aficionados would, as a community, curb their snobbery and judge each piece on it’s own merits, rather than its pedigree, it would become feasible for these Asian watchmakers to take their talent and go legit and compete on the world market.

    Reply
  19. michael mescher

    Like I tell friends and co-workers of mine that if its above a certain price and you know that it should go for way more than that, then beware.because like the adage goes its probably to good to be true

    Reply
  20. Ha ha
    Its a free market. Rolex cant stop fakes. Fakes sell more than original and indirectly contribute to the brand. We buy fakes in appreciation of the brand. These are “aspirational brands”. Everyone cant buy a Mercedes but they buy Hyundai Sonata Gold which is a cheap copy. Costs only 10 percent of Merc and gives better service than a Merc. Fakes are here to stay and grow. Stop them if you can Mr Rolex or Mr Omega. Market forces are much more powerful than these Swiss manufacturers. They just simply cant stop fakes. Let them sit in ivory towers. Let fakes sell under their nose.

    Why there are no fake BMWs in the world ? Why only watches

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  21. A few fakes I’ve picked up in Singapore keep better time than some genuine pieces I have. As for build quality: my 4k dollar Tag has been to the service centre 3 times in two years – the fake Rolex hasn’t skipped a beat in 5 years at 5% of the price. Swiss companies need to lift THEIR game if they want us to overlook the replica industry.

    Reply
    • My guess is you bought a Rolex because you wanted one but couldn’t afford it. That in itself tells you the industry doesn’t need to step up anything for people like you.

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  22. Elliot

    I agree with IP, and the cost of Labor, designing, manufacturing, etc… But if I can buy a Invicta Sub-Aqua Noma III, with a Swiss ETA Valjoux 7750, limited Edition, and patented SWISS Rose Gold layering process over 316L Surgical Stainless steel, and I have # 333/500, and I paid close to $1200.00 dollars, why do I need a Real Rolex, When I tested one that cost my ENT PHYSICIAN OVER $10,000 USA Dollars, and my Invicta KEEPS EXCELLENT TIME versus his 10K Rolex? …. , and better than a lot of other Quartz watches? I feel great to see my exhbition back, and used my doctors Rolex to prove a point only. I know its Not even INVICTAS RESERVE COLLECTION, which are all Swiss Made and excellent quality. It tell time, not fake, and I feel good when I GET COMPLIMENTS. Invicta won the RED DOT AWARD FOR THEIR DESIGN IN 2013? , but If your that rich and; want to wear a “house Morgage” on your wrist, go ahead. I am on disability from just having my 23rd Major Spine Surgery this past 10-9-2014, thus unless someone gives me a REAL expensive watch, over 5k and up. Not worth it to me “IN MY OPINION” and I Love MANY of the LUXURY BRANDS, DO NOT GET ME WRONG.
    I JUST GET UPSET that “CHINA OWNS USA”. and manufacturers still keep sending business to them ? UNREAL, and agree with the comment that all watch collectors should STOP buying ANY WATCH AND LESS SEE WHAT HAPPENS, and for legal reasons, ” I DO NOT WORK OR REPRESENT ANY WATCH COMPANY”. Just in Chronic Spine Pain, and enjoying everyday I GET UP and put a LIMITED EDITION, RENATO ON MY WRIST, AND THIS BABY OF MINE IS Swiss Made, hand assembled, and he MADE ONLY 50 in the Yellow Carbon Fiber dial and I own #10/50. Wow, only 49 people in the World OWN this Renato T-Rex, with a SWISS MADE MOVEMENT- the Nice Ronda 5040D. So, for me I DO MY HOMEWORK, SAVE, TREAT MYSELF and LOVE MY 70 watches I Own +. No fakes, just HAPPY and that is why we collect watches, or some do. Just my observation today on all the freaking GREED, HATRED IN THE WORLD. ” ONLY HUMANS DO EVIL TO OTHER HUMANS”, NO OTHER SPECIES…. WILL LEAVE IT THERE MY WATCH COLLECTING FRIENDS… and enjoy your life. Remember this quote as well, “SUCESS IS GETTING WHAT YOU WANT, HAPPINESS IS WANTING WHAT YOU GET” – by Dale Carnegie…..
    THANKS, Elliot.

    Reply
  23. The so-called “legitimate” manufactures have a real problem on their hands. They must somehow convince the consumer that two apparently identical watches are actually very different if one was make by the Swiss and the other by the Chinese – so different, in fact, that the Swiss-made one is worth tens of thousands of dollars more than the Chinese-made one. Good luck with that!
    Those who wear a high-end brand to impress others will often be willing to buy counterfeit, as long as they believe that no one will notice. And why not? To them, a counterfeit gives 100% utility at a cost of only 10%. Those who wear a high-end brand for all the other reasons of haute horlogerie will resist the siren song of the counterfeit – at least at first. But as the objective quality of the counterfeits approaches that of the “real thing” it becomes only too clear that brand cachet is all about manipulation of the consumer to enrich the manufactures.
    Frankly, I’m not overly concerned about the financial futures of nepotistic dynasties like the Hayek and Stern families. Let them eat cake!

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  24. Um, this is a fake article in as much as it’s either a reprint or has been plagiarised from somewhere. Off now to work out where . . .

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  25. Shahram

    Fakes are for fake people. If I see a fake watch on somebody I question everything they stand for. What does a fake watch or anything fake say about the character of a person. Just that they are fake and hollow. There cannot be any real satisfaction of owning a fake watch. And for the collectors of fake watches, just wear them and look at yourself in the mirror. You may fool everybody else, but you cannot fool yourself. Just wear whatever you can afford and whatever makes you happy. Leave the fakes to the fakes.

    Reply
    • How do you determine somebody is wearing a fake when the experts struggle to tell the difference?

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  26. If expensive watches can be faked just like originals , it simply means that the original one doesn’t worth that much. To the original watch makers, it’s time for you to make watches out if the norm to make your value proposition.

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  27. srhardy

    Oddly, i got a watchtime email reminding me of the RULES on posting (I never read them) as it seems your NOT allowed to advocate the theft of others intellectual property. Obviously watchtime promote the big brands in a quid-qo-pro & I understand that and where the companies can enforce any rights they assert (like at import) then good for them but not every country believes in these recently invented rules, nor can they be enforced in the real world. Thats just the facts, no jedgment from me on the above one way or the other BUT;

    My comment is, the basic contention of replies undermines the push of the article. Buyers say as long as they know whats legit and whats fake they are fine with ignoring rules that don’t suit them. Guess GAME OF THRONES new series will be as pirated as the last and thats the real point. Companies are following an old model that in the internet age just dosent work and so pay an ever bigger price. Their responce is to remove more and more of our liberties to protect themselves and governments like mine in AU love to help put our US brothers with 24/7 surveillance and intrusions into our deliveries, online activities and communications. With TRILLIONS pumped into the world banks the 1% have the money to buy these luxury goods and the companies have responded to deprecation of the value of money and the rich having so much more of it with HUGE price increases for only incremental improvements in luxury goods, watches especially and consumers (you & I) know that. Nature HATES a vacuum and thats resulted in the growing knockoff biz in affordable luxury goods. thats just a fact. China has much of the advanced tech and build a most of the SWISS branded stuff (new rules in SWISS are not in full until 2017/18) reflect this. INVICTA watches are now where ROLEX was only 50 years ago or less and are closing the gap. The rise in the FRANK against all currencies will hasten the move to higher prices and better knockoffs and I for one don’t know where this will end but its FUN to watch.

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  28. 1. fakes help fund and grow industry in 3rd world nations & the ever improving quality is both a testament to human ingenuity and advances in CAD, automation and education.
    2. yes, some terrorism (freedom movements) get funding from fakes, l in the selling but its not as much as the propaganda wing of the big watch companies would have you believe as the direct route of the internet is the main source, strait from the factory(s). Pay your taxes and your funding your governments arms industry and overseas killings, drones and coups of often elected governments!
    3. If a fake meets a need at a price thats easy to pay then thats the free market at work. Many if not all these laws protecting watch, wine, cars ect all have been invented in the last 100 years, mostly by the USA and forced in (not free) trade agreements, GAAT ect…

    A fake is a fake until its so good its real, the real then becomes the fake because of the insane prices asked. After being decimated by the QUARTZ invention of the 70’s onwards, i’m perplexed by the slow inovation of the watch industry. Soon with new smart watches it will get tougher again. Printing money is the reason the prices have gone up, soaking up from the rich oil, realestate barons and bankers. Its not about US any more and they is where fakes meet a need.

    I love watches, own mostly real ones with one or two fakes (they make great gifts), its opened my eyes to the insane prices being asked for the real thing and im not insane (as sheldon said ‘my mother had me tested’ TBBT)

    Reply
    • Testament to human ingenuity or human dishonesty? How would you like it if you invested in producing a product and building up its reputation only to have someone else sell a knock-off using your name and all the cache you’ve worked so hard to build? The size of the watch companies and the price’s their product demands is irrelevant. Using someone else’s name to sell a product of any kind or price is theft. That’s not how the “free market” works. It undermines the very basis of the free market, which is the protection of property rights. I suggest you read Adam Smith.

      Reply
  29. gazella76

    Some here mix gray market with counterfeit terminology on comment line….

    Reply
  30. Try dropping your shocking prices then we would not buy fakes , I buy them to collect and mod not to rip anyone off.

    Reply
  31. ..the "Dude"

    Don’t by from an unauthorized dealer on the internet to save a buck ….. you’re asking for trouble, imho ..

    Reply
    • Theresa McClain

      I’ve bought a number of Breitlings from eBay sellers. The four I have sent to Breitling for service have all been validated as the real thing. As with anything, you have to be careful who you buy from, but there are valid reasons for individuals to sell their real watches, and you can get better prices selling them yourself on eBay than taking what Tourneau, for example, will give you for your “pre-owned” watch.

      Reply
  32. Once I was in Malaysia when a street hawker asked me, “Do you want a Tag-Heuer watch sir?” I was able to show him my Tag-Heuer Professional 1000 diver’s watch and say, “No thank you, I have a real one.”

    The outward quality of some of the knock-off watches I have seen in the Middle East (Syria, United Arab Emirates, Qatar) is astonishing. Setting up dies and machining the cases, bracelets etc would take a large investment so there is obviously big money in counterfeiting. Especially given that they produce a wide range of brands and not just one or two. It’s anyone’s guess what is under the bonnet so to speak, but a Canadian friend who bought several knock-offs in Dubai said they kept good time and have lasted six years to date without major problems.

    How you control such an illegal industry when the countries in which they are made and sold don’t seem to give a rat’s bootlace about the sales, is anyone’s guess.

    I’ve often wondered whether the brands involved produce cheaper versions and call them counterfeits to pick up both ends of the market. The quality is that good,

    Reply
    • DHIRAJ SHARMA

      Agree with your last comment. I also wonder sometimes that somehow these replicas/counterfeits/fakes are being made by the original manufacturers. :)

      Reply
      • I’ve seen several “knockoffs” and have been utterly baffled at their quality, so much so in some cases that I’ve thought the same thing. Who could make a better “knockoff” than the original maker themselves? I think that with 3D printing and the improvement in steel, it’s only going to get worse, or better depending on your POV.

        Reply
  33. Unless you have more money than God the obsession for these watches priced 5k and up
    makes no sense to me. As an avid collector for 25 yrs.yes I own Rolex, Omega but I knew
    what I was buying. Why don’t we start talking about watches that can be bought at prices
    between $500- 1500 that are made with the same materials as the so-called high end ones.
    At these prices you can get the 316l ss case, anti-reflective sapphire crystals, high end swiss
    eta movements, beautiful ss bracelets, high lume dials. To name a few such as Steinhart, Armida,
    Deep Blue, Hamilton and the list goes on. You can bet these brands will not be on the fakes
    most wanted list, I own these watches and they are just as good and even better in some areas
    than the 5k-15k brands. Know what your buying and enjoy what your wearing.

    Reply
    • Agreed. I’ve totally gotten into Hamilton. My Jazzmaster autos are beautiful timepieces and as elegant in their simplicity as my DateJust for 1/10th the cost.

      Reply
  34. Many fakes or even clones are sold to buyers that appreciate the value of pre owned. Why don’t the brands help the consumers or sponsor a company that can. They spend so much money putting a watch on your wrist, you would think they would care a little more about fakes.

    Reply
  35. Chronoman

    There is a manufacturer, based in the USA, who makes perfect copies of the Rolex Daytona, with the Valjoux 72 movement, correct engravings etc. I am sure at least some of these find their way into the market and are sold as real.

    High quality replica Panerai watches are now available for less than $300. Panerai uses rather cheap base movements in many of their models but sell their watches for $10,000 give or take. The fact that replicas, literally copied piece by piece sell for $300 must send a message. The profit on luxury watches has become unrealistic.

    Reply
    • Giorgio Osti

      Present Daytonas, though, do not have Valjoux 72 movements, which, if I’ m correct, were not automatic. Since the beginning of the century, Rolex makes its own movement, and before, for more of a decade, the movements were based on the automatic Zenith El Primero

      Reply
  36. Robin Henry

    Some of the fakes I have seen are very well made, although there’s no way to know what’s inside. If you are happy to wear fake watches, I guess that’s you’re business, however, while people buy them their will be a supply and that is illegal.

    Better to pay for good watches and not support a business that’s run by criminals.

    Reply
  37. In Dubai there is an area, well known to everybody, where they only sell fake products. Handbags, t-shirts, watches etc. the same watch had different prices. The most expensive rolex submariner was us $ 350 with a… Seiko mechanism!!!!!! I bought only one and I regret it because for the last 3 years it hasn’t stopped once and I only adjust it once a month for the 5-6 minutes it gains A MONTH. Several years ago I paid top dollars to buy an original Daytona and I adjust it every week!!!!

    If we want prices to drop, we should all agree and NOT buy a watch, any watch for a couple of years and we will have the dealers and the companies knocking our doors offering their watches for 1/3 of today’s prices!!!!

    Reply
    • Giorgio Osti

      If your Daytona needs setting every week, bring it to the watch maker… To stay within chronometer standards it should ‘ nt differ more than several sedonds a day. If this is not ok for you, buy a good quartz watch;if this is not enough, get real time feom the phone of a smart watch…

      Reply
    • Can these watch companies survive if they drop the price to 1/3. The competition from quartz forced more then half of Swiss watch companies to close in the 70s. Quartz can be bought for $10 and is accurate to +/- 2 second per year while mechanical watches are at best +/- seconds per day. My late father’s old Swiss Titus is still running after more than 60 years without servicing. I just sent it for servicing as it was losing 45 second daily and fogging from water exposure. That must surely mean something in terms of quality and I guess it will run another 60 years before the next service. I do agree a Rolex is over priced for an inaccurate time piece but not for a mechanism that keeps running after 60 years. The service probably costs more than what my father paid for the watch 60 years ago :-)

      Reply
  38. Sometimes I believe real manufactures make the fake ones it’s another revenue of income.. As far as gray market? Like you can’t track down where the watches are leaking from? Hint hint Israel? Lebanon? Middle East? Anyhow bought most of my watches from AD and few from online for way cheaper then AD and never had any issues with them being fake..

    Reply
  39. wow keep spreading the propaganda please. just because your greedy pockets arn’t being filled you’re pulling terrorism into the equation? how about bank of america helping the mexican cartels to launder money? will you stop accepting money from bank of america customers?

    Reply
  40. zcymmontmae

    Fake are for fake people… why I will buy fakes if its for benefit of greedy. illegal counterfieters

    Reply
  41. Kim Kolbe

    @andrzej
    Ignorant
    No matter how sophisticated the quality of the counterfit
    it will never be of the same long lasting quality.
    If you want to show off with a couterfit watch on your wrist, it really tells a lot about your personality! You expect something for nothing, so you are the fake!

    Reply
  42. Maybe if the watch producers didn’t have large dependencies in their prices from country to country in order to extract the most money from their grossly overpriced watches there would not be a grey market.

    Reply
  43. The counterfeit market is growing simply because the technology to buy a reproduction is easy to do. Like the other commenters, the prices keeping rising simply because they can do it.

    I purchased a Rolex which is an M-class from late 2007. It was $5400 at the time and now it’s $6600 for no reason! It’s still the same watch, components and design, but the cost has gone up?

    Why? Should not the law of market demand play into the cost? But no, the Swiss buy back watches from the jewelers if they don’t sell to simply keep them from being sold “at less than below market prices”.

    The market is completely false and rigged by Swatch and others because due to one word: GREED. Profits no matter what the margin is never enough.

    Just wait until Korea and others start producing high-quality watches and the Swiss stranglehold is over for good.

    I have stopped my collecting because of the continual rise in prices. Why buy a Tag Heuer quartz for $2000 when you can buy an original Movado quartz on sale at Jared, Zales, Amazon, etc. for $300???

    Since Swatch has a stranglehold on the hairsprings, hands, etc. is the quality of Movado any less than an Omega? Do I need to pay thousands more for the Co-Axial movement? (Is my life that empty that if I don’t buy the Co-Axial that the golfers in the club will look down on me with contempt???

    I’ve almost lost my love for watches for the insanity that has ensued with the prices.

    Hayek Family, I hope you are reading these comments (as well Tag, Rolex and others).

    Get a grip on the prices.

    Reply
  44. Counterfeit goods and so called “fakes” fund terrorist organizations and promote child labor. All of you people who think its harmless need to do some more research. I sell luxury watches and jewelery including some very big names in the price points suggested in this article. I always have to laugh at the client who says they “saw” a watch for a discounted price online. What they “saw online” is a picture of the watch or item. The funny part about it is its usually the liberal who pretends to care so much about everybody, yet they want to argue over a few bucks and resort to making that online purchase to save money. They dont realize they just quite possibly contributed funds to the Taliban! LMFAO, the same asshole giving me shit for driving a pickup truck just spent 60k on a chevy volt to save gas money! Oh the webs we weave…

    Reply
    • You pay taxes, say to the US government, your funding the worlds biggest arms seller and terrorist now hand me the knock off omega please.

      Reply
    • srhardy

      Ill take argument for this, the US GOV (UK, FRANCE, GERMAN, RUSSIA & CHINA too FYI) fund both sides or the side that gives their biz an advantage in future with weapons. Always have and will until someone goes nuke (and that could be a false flag US>US attack as almost happened in 2013).

      But yes, its money and money is agnostic. It also gets people of of poverty & jobs to motivated workers (age is irrelevant in fake goods, but quality isnt)

      Fake people, often bankers lied and crashed the financial system in 2008 & its all the free money they are getting thats buying all this luxury good and price rises. Paying too much makes you a fool!

      Now i love ROLEX, they innovate a better build and movement but its only a watch, if telling time on something for $50 gives me the time and some of the same happyness knowing the time then good for me & you.

      Reply
    • Jose Casas

      I belive that China made Rolex and other high end brands are manufactured by extremely good technicians and very good machinery, no child labor at all in the complex manufacture in the fantastic replicas they make. Someday China will develop and make very good not so expensive watches, they just need marketing done by profesionals… Swiss, watch out….

      Reply
      • I agree with this statement, just remember back to the 60s when Japanese motorcycles first hit the western market, most people trashed the thought of them, and now they are the best bikes in the world , same technology as watches really !

        Reply
  45. Buntelnemon

    The manufacturing technology advanced so much that precision components can now be mass produced cheaper than ever. Most of the watch manufacturers switched from traditional watch making to faster, cheaper, automated methods but their prices don’t reflect that, instead they keep increasing their prices every year and the only reason is because you’re buying a luxury good. I don’t want to buy a luxury good or brand for recognition, I want to buy a watch with a design I like and if fakes are getting so good in quality, why bother with the overpriced original?

    Reply
    • Because it takes money to pay for designers and people with ideas, to come up with innovative and original ideas……..the Chinese are just taking the fruits of other people’s labour….that is not right

      Reply
  46. Andrzej,
    How about the fact that these companies spend tens of millions of dollars to design and manufacture the finest watches in the world, and these counterfeiters are simply stealing their intellectual property?

    Reply
  47. “veteran
    watch collectors laying down $20K+ and getting burned? Please. How stupid does that guy think we are? We aren’t talking about hard to detect counterfeits here and anybody who lays down $20K for a watch from anything but an authorized dealer either knows how to authenticate the watch themselves or would have it checked out first. Couple hundred bucks? maybe not. One your over a few thousand you can count on it. If the frauds are that good the source would succumb to the temptation to flood pawn shops and mom & pop jewelers with them for quick cash.

    Reply
  48. Andrzej

    Fakes are fine as long as the buyer knows about it. If the quality is the same as original, than what’s the problem?? Greed of the originals’ makers?

    Reply
    • I agree. I wont judge anyone by choosing a high end clone over a 15K real one . Just like I wont judge they guy with the real $15k watch with Botox in his cheeks and forehead and his wifes fake boobs.

      Reply
      • I definitely would because you are trying to be someone you are not. Just buy a cheap watch and be happy with it in that case. Why do you need Rolex on the dial if its a fake? There are plenty of homage companies with relatively cheap watches.

        Reply
        • i collect replicas and have 3 Hublots 5 Audemars Piguet 3 Rolexs 5 Breitling 2 Cartiers and my opinion is if the replicas are as good as the $25k real deal Hublot and the only way you can tell its a replica is if a experienced watch seller takes it apart n still only could tell its not the real McCoy is cause of 2 parts then to me thats not even a fake its called being smart i just saved $24,500 now if you buy one of those replicas and pay the real McCoy price that i have a problem with cause thats not right although if theres no difference between the 2 then the company selling the real thing for that much isnt right ether but thats a different convo for anther time but my point is theres nothing wrong with buying a high-end replica if you know its a replica when you bought it and arent planning on selling it for the real McCoy price

          Reply
  49. Great article. I have always purchased from an AD and the watches have been new but recently I got burned on a vintage piece online. I was fortunate that the seller had no idea and wound up getting most of my funds back. Just goes to show that if its too good to be true, one should walk away.

    Reply
  50. If “gangsters” as the article call them can do it so well that even the manufacturers have a hard time to spot the fake ones, that means the authentic ones are way overpriced

    Reply
    • Why does it matter if it is overpriced? Dont buy it! The idea to pretend to buy a brand just so you can pretend to have the money to buy that brand and/or long lasting quality is truly sad.

      Reply
      • Agree 100%. The reason people buy fake watches is because they want to appear to others as someone with the money to buy said watch. They are pretenders…wannabes…….

        If that was not the case, then why don’t they just buy a cheap watch period…rather than a fake ‘expensive’ watch

        Reply
    • Vinorus

      Agreed, but I have come across some (non-budget-concerned) watch collectors with plenty real high end timepieces used to buy one or two counterfeit watches, they say: I appreciate the design of it or the brand but the original just doesn’t worth it. So I will say, depends.

      Reply
      • HoroLogical

        I’m one of those. I own both. So it can’t be said I am trying to impress with something I can’t truly afford. Liz Taylor had both the real and copied Taylor/Burton Diamond. Was she a poser when wearing the fake? The legalities/ copyright infringement are an issue yes- but also there is an issue with companies NOT giving you what you are paying for, if the product can be exactly duplicated for thousands less. Where does the greed end.? Rolex is a “charitable organization” and pays no corporate taxes?! Depends on WHO you think is being corrupt and immoral/dishonest in the whole equation.

        Reply
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