Real vs. Replica: How to Spot a Fake Rolex

Buying secondhand luxury watches is the smarter way to shop. Not only does it allow you to enjoy a wider range of fine timepieces from vintage to modern, it also saves you plenty of money. Since high-end watches are built to last for generations, you really can’t beat the value proposition of a pre-owned timepiece—particularly pre-owned Rolex watches.

There is a caveat to this, however. Due to their immense popularity, Rolex is the most counterfeited watch brand in the market with counterfeiters now producing more and more sophisticated fakes. While this is not a problem you will have to deal with when shopping with Chronoexpert since we guarantee the authenticity of every product we sell, savvy consumers should always educate themselves and be aware of potential problems.

So with that, we have come up with a simple guide on how to spot a fake Rolex watch. These five steps will help you figure out the differences between replica Rolex watches and genuine ones to protect yourself from inadvertently buying a fake Rolex

Step 1: Familiarize yourself with Rolex hallmarks

If you're not familiar with the fine details of Rolex, then read up on some brand basics to learn about signature Rolex hallmarks. Understanding what characteristic design details to look for will help you spot a fake Rolex. Some good resources to look into include the brand's official website, established watch media websites, watch forums, and popular Rolex reference books.

Here are few Rolex designs fundamentals to get you started:
  • On modern Rolex watches, only the following high quality materials are used: 904L stainless steel, 18k gold, and 950 platinum. Moremover, from 2008 onwards, Rolex uses a patented 18k rose gold alloy dubbed Everose gold.
  • Rolex is famous for their highly water resistant watches and this is thanks in part to screw-down winding crowns and fluted casebacks. The minimum water resistance of modern Rolex Oyster watches is 100 meters (330 feet).
  • Except for Sea-Dweller models, Rolex watches with the date function always have the Cyclops lens on top of the date window for magnification. This magnification is always 2.5x the original size.
  • From 2002 onwards, Rolex included a tiny etching of the Rolex crown, aka the coronet, on the crystal at the 6 o’clock position as a proof of authenticity. Additionally, from early 2000s, the company also began engraving the rehaut (the space between the crystal and the dial) with ROLEX ROLEX ROLEX
  • There are several Rolex bracelet types: Oyster, Jubilee, President, Pearlmaster, leather, and Oysterflex. Certain models only offer certain bracelets.

Step 2: Research the specific Rolex model you have in mind

If there’s a particular Rolex watch you have your eye on, then research it. A reference number (sometimes referred to as the model or style number) will tell you the specific model and material of the Rolex watch. For instance, a stainless-steel Submariner. The reference number is different to the serial number, which is the watch’s unique identification number. The serial number can tell you approximately when the watch was produced.

Once you have a reference number in hand, spend some time looking at pictures and reading descriptions of that particular Rolex. One way to spot a fake Rolex is to ensure that the model you’re looking at actually exists. For example, the Rolex Day-Date is exclusively made in gold or platinum, never stainless steel

Step 3: Inspect the details

Whether you’re looking at pictures or have the Rolex in hand, take the time to properly inspect the details. Everything on a Rolex is perfect, so if anything seems “off” then walk away.

All text on the dial should be straight, fonts proportional, and of course, no spelling errors. Bracelet clasps should open and close smoothly and everything should feel like it’s been made to the highest of standards.

A Rolex has some weight to it and is a well-built and sturdy watch. If it seems lightweight, flimsy, or delicate, then it’s probably a fake made with cheaper materials.

Also, the movements that power Rolex watches are of exceptional quality and finishing. Each movement is engraved with the Rolex name, the caliber number, and has meticulously crafted parts, mechanisms, gears, and jewels. Cheap calibers are often an easy way to spot a fake Rolex. However, it’s important to note that as counterfeiters get more sophisticated, they are focusing more on perfecting how to copy Rolex movements. There are some so-called super fake Rolex watches that come equipped with Rolex movement replicas rather than typical ETA movements.

Step 4: Take note of these common Rolex replica red flags

Here are some common design flaws to look out for that indicates that the Rolex in question is a fake.
  • Clear casebacks: while many high-end watch brands have transparent casebacks on their watches to show off their movements, Rolex does not. There are some vintage Rolex models from the 1930s that have an exhibition caseback, but that’s it.
  • Engraved casebacks: with the exception of very few models (Sea-Dweller, Comex, and some military models), Rolex does not engrave the outside of their casebacks with logos, names or symbols. The inner caseback however, is always engraved with the company name and reference number.
  • Quartz Movements: Rolex did produce a few quartz models (Beta 21 and Oysterquartz) in the 1970s and 1980s. Aside from that, all Rolex watches are mechanical and all modern Rolex Oyster Perpetual watches run on automatic mechanical movements.
  • Loud ticking noise: Real Rolex watches do not make loud ticking noises.

Step 5: Buy from a trustworthy seller

An easy way to protect yourself from fake Rolex watches is to buy from a trustworthy seller. Be wary of auction sites where dishonest sellers can stay anonymous. Also, be careful of classified websites where you have to meet a stranger in person while in possession of an expensive luxury watch.

Instead, opt for a reputable dealer like Chronoexpert who has done all the homework for you. Chronoexpert only sells 100% guaranteed authentic products like genuine Rolex watches. Every single watch that comes through our doors undergoes a detailed verification process by a team of experts to ensure authenticity. What’s more, we at Chronoexpert stand by our authenticity promise with a 14-day return policy.