Looking to invest in a quality watch, but worried that you could be mistakenly buying a replica or fake watch? You’re not alone. The appearance and quality of fake watches have improved greatly, making it difficult to know if you’re buying the real deal. Here are some key details to look for that may help you tell if an expensive watch is a fake.

Do your homework

If you’re serious about purchasing a luxury watch, take the time to do your research first. There are many reliable sites and online videos where you can learn how to identify the key features of a high-quality luxury watch. This includes specific brand markings, serial and model numbers, authentic documentation and packaging, and even expected price ranges for vintage or pre-owned luxury watches.

Beware of “Frankenwatches”

While Frankenwatches may not exactly be fake, they often consist of a mix of genuine and aftermarket and/or replica watch parts. For example, while the outside of the watch may feature an original watch case and bracelet/strap, the inside could be a completely different story, with parts cobbled together from other makes, models or replicas. This not only devalues the watch, it means the watch probably won’t last long or function as it should, thanks to inferior parts and the lack of superior craftsmanship. This type of watch can be a beast to properly verify, and they often fool many serious watch collectors.

Check the weight

One of the first and easiest ways to verify a watch is its weight. Genuine watches are usually made with solid materials, including high quality stainless steel, precious stones, crystal, gold, silver, and heavy metal alloys. Also, true quality watches are made up of dozens of tiny, but exquisitely made, moving parts, which also adds to the weight, quality and durability of a genuine luxury watch. By comparison, a fake or replica watch will generally feel noticeably lighter in your hand.

Examine the finishing touches

If you’re able to examine the watch in person, look closely for any unfinished edges, blemishes, scratches (especially on the watch face), and brand markings or engravings. Also, take the time to test out the watch, looking to see if you can properly close the watch’s clasp/buckle, if the links fit well and have smooth, precise edges, and if you can easily adjust any of the watch’s screws, hands or needles.

Look carefully at the stamps and engravings. They should be clear and precise, especially for specific luxury watch manufacturers. Designer watches feature several stamps in different places across the watch’s body and/or bracelet. A simple online search can help you easily determine how many stamps a real watch should have, as well as where they should be located, based on which model you’re looking at.

If you notice any misspelled words, smudging, fading or incorrect marks or stamps based on your research, it’s likely a fake watch. Also, take time to look closely at the overall color of the watch. Fake watches often use low-quality material which can fade or tarnish over time, so check carefully before you buy.

If you’re unable to examine the watch in person, the seller should be able to provide high quality photographs or video that details the watch’s finish. If the seller is hesitant, unwilling or unable to provide such highly detailed documentation, it’s highly likely to be fake.

Look up the serial and/or model numbers

While most regular watch buyers likely don’t pay attention to a watch’s serial or model number, serious collectors use this to help verify authenticity, especially since genuine luxury watches feature unique serial numbers. If you do an online search and find a listing for the same watch with the same serial number, it’s probably a fake or replica. Since fake watches are generally produced in large batches, they are usually given the same serial number to save time and money to produce.

Where the serial number is engraved on the watch also differs across brand manufacturers, so again, doing your homework prior to buying may help save you from buying a fake. There are several online resources you can use to confidently verify a watch’s serial number, including Watch Certification Services.

Pay attention to the characteristics

Genuine luxury watches feature several key components that add to their value, reliability and durability, including high-quality materials, handcrafted features, and precision parts and mechanisms for superior design. For example, designer watches feature a sapphire crystal glass top, which is scratch- and shatter-resistant. If tilted under the light at different angles, the sapphire top gives off a violent tint. It also has a highly noticeable shine and luster.

While you’re looking at the watch face, look closely at the calendar or date window. On authentic luxury watches, this area, also known as the cyclops, should be convex, and the date should be extremely clear and crisp, with precise magnification for easy readability.

Look at the movement of the parts on the face. This may be a bit harder to determine, but the watch hands should be of high-quality material, be shaped and sized correctly and move smoothly. You’re more likely to notice shaky or weird hand movements in replicas and fake watches.

Whether you have your eye on an expensive watch for yourself or are looking to invest in a luxury timepiece for a loved one, buying it at Gene’s Jewelry & Pawn is a smart option. Our in-store jewelry specialists have done all the research to verify every single piece we have in stock, so you can rest easy knowing that any timepiece you buy from us is guaranteed to be 100% genuine. Visit one of our three locations in the greater Charleston area today!