How to spot a fake Rolex?
First of all, if you're buying a Rolex watch then you must buy from a reputable seller such as a Hatton Garden trusted watch dealer. If you have found an unbelievable deal from a good friend or family member then you should take a Rolex specialist with you or at the very least somebody that owns a Rolex watch that is able to bring their Rolex watch with them to compare Rolex models. If you have a friend with the exact model then this would be the ideal watch to take for comparison purposes. Not only could you look at the two watches side by side but you could compare the feel and sound of the movement too.
Tools to take when buying a pre-owned Rolex:
Torch with UV light
As a Rolex watch buyer, it could be worth taking a jeweller's loop with you, a 10x magnification loop will help you better inspect the watch and it will help significantly when checking the condition and authenticity of the dial. A loop will help you look at the watch in fine detail and should bring attention to any problems much easier.
To inspect your Rolex watch properly, you need to make sure you have enough light. If you have a light with a UV function you can easily inspect the glow of each hour marker on the watch and you can use the torch on your warranty card to check for the UV Rolex pattern that is only visible under UV light.
Step one: Buy the seller
When you arrive at the meeting, how does the seller behave? Do they seem off or genuine? If for any reason you don't feel comfortable, walk away. When the watch is presented to you, is it as described? How does it feel and what is the behaviour of the seller?
Step 2: Physical inspection
Hold the watch and move it around your hands so that you're able to get a good feel for the material and condition, has it been well cared for, or is it damaged or had work done to it? Now, test the functions of the watch and make sure they're present such as the diver extension, glide lock system, and rotatable bezel.
Movement test: When testing the movement, be sure to take your time, listen for unusual sounds, and pay attention to build quality. Your tests should include a full 24 hours sweep of the dial to check the hands and the date function are working.
Now, you need to check if all of the elements of your movement are working such as your chronograph function, date wheel, and winding.
Step 3: Laser-etched crown
Look for the laser-etched Rolex crown that has been engraved into the sapphire glass and sits above the 6 o'clock point on the dial. The crown should be extremely hard to find, if it's easy to spot that's a bad sign, we look for the crown on a daily basis and still struggle to find them, it may be easier to use a torch and change the angle you are looking from.
Step 4: Date window
Check that the date is magnified x2.5, whilst making this check, ensure that the date is easily visible under all types of light with no glare or reflection. Now rotate the crown on the date setting and check each number is marketed perfectly. How does the movement feel when rotating the crown? You should hear a nice but consistent click and it should be easy to turn. Don't move the date wheel between 10 pm and 2 am on the watch.
Step 5: Check the dial and hands with your loop
Take a close look at the dial, Rolex watch dials should be immaculate. The writing should be perfect with no inconsistencies or blemishes. There should be no dust or marks anywhere on the dial. The watch hands should be in perfect condition and where they meet the central pinion the finish should be flawless. A rough finish would suggest Rolex didn't fit those hands.
Step 6: Check the clasp
How does it open and close? Does it feel well made or poor quality? You can find a multitude of clasps on different Rolex models but you should check in advance the type of clasp your watch should have and test it works. Role watches can have different clasps including the sports clasp, glide lock system, divers extension, and hidden clasp.
Step 7: Bracelet
Is the bracelet made from the correct material? Does it have the correct finish for the model and age of the watch? How does the bracelet move? And does it fit into the lugs of the watch case perfectly? The bracelet should fit snugly into your watch case without any gaps. Most modern Rolex watch bracelets are adjustable so make sure you research the correct function for your watch and test it.
Step 8: Take a look at the crown
Look at the symbol on the crown, does it have 2 dots, 1 dot, 3 dots, or a line under the Rolex symbol? Modern Rolex watches have either a twin-lock or a triple lock system, if your watch has a dept rating over 100 meters then it will have a triple lock which is represented with 3 dots under the Rolex symbol on the crown. If your watch has a depth rating of 100 meters or less then it is a twin lock system that is shown with 2 dots, 1 dot, or an underline.
Step 9: Inspect the Chromolight
Shine a light on the watch face to charge the Chromolights (the luminescence elements that glow in the dark) they should all have the same consistent glow and each one should be perfect. Your UV setting on your torch will help you compare the Chromolights.
Step 10: Inspect the Rehaut
In 2008 Rolex started to include an engraved rehaut on their watches, the rehaut is the steel ring that runs around the edge of the dial where the sapphire glass sits on top. You can find the serial number for your watch on the rehaut between the 5 o'clock and 6 o'clock positions. The Rolex crown is positioned at 12 o'clock and the word Rolex can be found from the crown to the 5 o'clock position and from the 7 o'clock position to the crown on the opposite side. The X from the word Rolex will line up perfectly with each hour market from 1 to 5 and the R from the word Rolex will line up perfectly at the hour markers from 7 to 11.
Reflection, final visual inspection.
How do you feel after inspecting the watch? are you comfortable with the watch and seller or did you come across some red flags? Only proceed if you're comfortable and all checks are a success.
Compare a genuine image of the watch from your phone that you know to be authentic and compare it against the watch in your hand to make sure you didn't miss anything.
Paperwork and box
Check the paperwork for the watch, does the warranty card look correct? Is the UV inscription present? Check that the box is well made and finished to a high standard. Your full paperwork should be present including your booklets and swing tags. One of your Rolex swing tags will have the watch's serial number which can be found on your warranty card too.