Watch Articles

How to Spot A Fake Luxury Watch

May 31, 2017 - Watch Articles

In today’s market, it’s easier than ever to get a good deal on a luxury watch. With pre-owned luxury watch retailers, fine auction houses, discounted online retailers, and private sellers, the choices for buyers are endless. However, today more than ever it is important to know how to spot a fake luxury watch.

Although this certainly is a clever way to shop for expensive timepieces while getting the most value for your money, there is the risk of being duped into buying fake watches. In fact, the luxury watch market is rife with counterfeit watches ranging from the very obvious to the super fakes.

So we’ve come up with the 5 tips on how to spot a fake luxury watch to help you on your search. Armed with some knowledge, you’ll be that savvy shopper that scored an awesome watch at a great price.


How to spot a fake luxury watch?

    1. Research
    2. Where you buy
    3. Price
    4. Provenance & Paperwork
    5. Prudence


1. Research

Once you have your eye on a specific piece, there’s some homework to do. Research that specific timepiece using a model number, serial number, and pictures so you can compare a real watch with the watch you are considering.

The internet is packed with information on specific luxury watch models. Particularly if they’re famous brands like Rolex watches Patek Philippe, OMEGA, Cartier, Audemars Piguet and so on. Here are some resources you should consider:

  • Official brand website: If the piece you’re considering is part of the current collection, then look at official pictures and descriptions on the brands’ official website to get yourself familiar with the watch’s design and movement.
  • Leading watch blogs/magazines: There are plenty of watch blogs and magazines out there to explore with in-depth articles on specific watch models along with high-resolution close-up pictures.
  • Watch encyclopedia websites: These types of websites provide specific and easy to find information, such as production dates, materials, and movement types.
  • Top watch forums: There is a huge community of people passionate about luxury watches out there and many of them of willing to share their knowledge.


Some recommended resources for watch research:

Resource Type
Hodinkee Watch blog/magazine
aBlogtoWatch Watch blog/magazine
Worn & Wound Watch blog/magazine
Revolution Watch blog/magazine
Monochrome Watch blog/magazine
Watchbase Watch encyclopedia
Watch Wiki Watch encyclopedia
Watchuseek Watch forum
Watch Freaks Watch forum
Time Zone Watch forum
The Rolex Forums Watch forum


Once you have the right knowledge you can scrutinize the watch you have in mind to purchase:

  • Is the design correct?
  • Do all the components on the dial, case, bracelet, caseback, and movement match up?
  • Is it made in the right material?
  • Does it have the correct production date?
  • Is it powered by the correct movement?

These are just some of the details to deliberate.


2. Where you buy

It is imperative that you purchase your expensive luxury watch from a trustworthy place or person. Ask yourself these questions before handing over a large sum of money for a fine timepiece:

  • Is this a legitimate company (or person) with a solid reputation?
  • What are the reviews like?
  • Do they have warranties, guarantees, and return policies in place?


There are several types of places you can purchase high-end watches from:

  • Gray market websites: non-authorized online marketplaces that sell new genuine watches at discounted prices. These companies typically do not have the manufacturer’s warranties in place but offer their own.
  • Pre-owned luxury watch websites: online marketplaces that sell used luxury watches that are inspected, restored, and refurbished by in-house watch experts. Sometimes, authorized retailers will operate a pre-owned luxury watch division too.
  • Auction websites or houses: either online or brick and mortar locations, this is where buyers will have to battle it out with others to purchase a specific luxury watch.
  • Pawn shops: physical stores that may have a collection of high-end watches to browse through among their other goods.
  • Private sellers: watch collectors who buy and sell luxury timepieces. Normally market their products using online forums and classifieds.


3. Price

As the saying goes, if it’s too good to be true, it probably is. Find out the current market value of that specific watch and if the price you’re being offered is way below that point, then beware.


spotting a fake luxury watch


4. Provenance and paperwork

While this does not necessarily guarantee authenticity, asking about the watch’s provenance and having the paperwork in hand does increase the probability that the timepiece is genuine. Paperwork can include receipts, manuals, authenticity cards, proof of purchase, service history records, appraisal papers, and so on.


5. Prudence

Perhaps the most important tips on how to spot a fake luxury watch, it pays to be prudent. In other words, listen to your gut. If anything seems off or illegitimate, then walk away. Purchasing a luxury watch should be an enjoyable experience where you can fully trust that the timepiece at hand is the real deal.

Bio: A WP Diamonds luxury watch expert, Celine has enjoyed working in the horology industry for over ten years. Like many of the high-end timepieces she writes about, she comes from Switzerland—the heart of fine watchmaking. From Singapore to Montreal t...

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