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Differentiating between counterfeit and authentic watches has become increasingly challenging in recent times. The rise of "Frankenstein watches" has made it more difficult for buyers to detect fakes as counterfeiters use authentic parts in counterfeit watches. Gone are the days when fake watches only carried counterfeit brand names or featured non-existent models. In some cases, experts cannot even tell the difference between the original and the counterfeit based on external appearance alone. In this article, we will examine how to identify the discrepancies between fake and genuine watches.


What to consider before the purchase of a watch

It is crucial to ensure that you purchase your watch from a reputable dealer whom you can trust. At Zurichberg, we take great care in verifying the authenticity of every watch we receive by subjecting them to rigorous inspection by our expert watchmakers in our own watchmaking workshop, to safeguard our customers from acquiring counterfeit watches. We only offer certified original watches, but if you have any queries regarding a specific model, our knowledgeable and skilled specialists are always available to assist you.

This article will outline the indicators of a counterfeit watch, but it is important to note that a formal authentication can only be conducted by a professional watchmaker. If you are purchasing a watch privately, you can have it inspected by a jeweler of your choice before finalizing the transaction. If the seller is not willing to have the watch inspected, it may be best to avoid the purchase altogether.


How to verify the authenticity of a watch

We can guarantee that despite the increasing market for fake watches and the improving quality of imitations, it is still possible to spot more than 95% of counterfeit models right away. While it may not be difficult for many counterfeiters to reproduce a genuine watch, the devil is in the details. So, what steps can you take to authenticate a watch yourself?

Does the model actually exist?

A simple way to determine if a watch is fake is to check if the advertised model actually exists and if the reference number is correct. You can easily do this by using search engines on the internet. However, it's important to note that relying solely on the website of the manufacturer may not be sufficient, as not all of their models may be listed there.

Examine and verify the details on the watch

It's essential to have prior knowledge of the watch model and be familiar with its unique characteristics and details to detect any discrepancies or lack of attention to detail that is typical of counterfeit watches.


The lasered Rolex crown on the sapphire crystal at 6 o'clock is an example of a specific detail that counterfeit watches often lack. To identify this feature, you can illuminate the watch's crystal from the side with a flashlight and view it under a magnifying glass. The laser engraving is indicated by small dots on the crown. Although this is a counterfeit protection feature that Rolex has specially designed, many counterfeiters have copied this method. Similarly, Omega has added a small engraved globe with the Omega logo or the engraved Omega logo on the crystal back of the case for authentication purposes. However, it is easy to distinguish an original from a counterfeit, as the engraved logos and laser crowns are more poorly executed on counterfeits than on genuine watches. Paying attention to such details is always a good idea!


To verify the authenticity of a Rolex Daytona, pay close attention to the reflection of the dial in bright light. A genuine watch will have a clearly defined round reflection, and the hour, minute, and second hands, as well as the hands of the totalizers, will be clearly visible in the reflection. If the reflections are blurry or not visible at all, it is likely a counterfeit.


Furthermore, the date magnification and cyclops lens are distinguishing characteristics that can help you differentiate between fake and original Rolex watches. Except for the Rolex Deepsea model, all other Rolex watches have a magnifying lens above the date display, which magnifies the date by 2.5 times its actual size. In contrast, counterfeit versions typically achieve a maximum magnification of only 1.5 times.


Examining and trying out the watch in person is always helpful as product photos can often be deceiving. By seeing and holding a high-quality watch in real life, you can better identify the specific details to pay attention to. This hands-on experience can provide a better understanding and feel for the watch that cannot be replaced by extensive online research or reading books.

The most difficult component to falsify: The movement

If you are unable to determine the authenticity of a watch based on its external features, examining the movement can help. The movement is the most important indicator of a watch's authenticity since it is the heart of the watch and the most technically sophisticated component. It is possible to recognize the movement inside a watch by examining the workmanship of different calibers from various manufacturers, including brand-specific details and characteristic engravings of individual components. Counterfeiters often do not take the effort to faithfully copy a movement with all its components, making it easy to spot the differences between an original and a fake.


For instance, high-quality timepieces from manufacturers such as Jaeger-LeCoultre often have blued screws in their mechanical movements. While watchmakers use a bluing furnace for tempering the screws, in replicas, the screws are typically painted, which is easily distinguishable from the genuine article.

Inspect the weight of the watch

In many cases, the weight of a counterfeit watch can be a dead giveaway. Luxury timepieces from reputable brands are typically made from high-quality materials and precious metals that give them a certain weight. While imitating this weight is not impossible, counterfeiters often handle this aspect carelessly by using cheap materials or adding lead weights to the watch case. It's always a good idea to hold the watch in your hand and get a feel for its weight. For example, the Breitling for Bentley 6.75, which weighs a hefty 220 grams, should feel substantial. However, you should not rely solely on weight to determine the authenticity of a watch as some originals may lose weight over time due to polishing or refurbishment, while counterfeiters are becoming increasingly skilled and can replicate the weight of originals down to the last milligram.


It may sound like common sense, but it's important to not only ensure that all parts of the watch look like they are of high quality but also feel that way. For instance, if you're holding a watch made entirely of gold and the case and movement feel heavy, but the bracelet doesn't, then you should think twice before buying it. In such cases, it's advisable to have a watchmaker or jeweler confirm whether it is only gold plated or not.

Always check the accessories

It's important to examine the accessories that come with the watch. Do they include the original papers and box, or is there a certificate of authentication from an official watchmaker?


Counterfeit accessories are often poorly made with rough writing on the box. You should also check the watch's serial number and the dealer named on the certificate. This information can be easily verified through a quick internet search, which will also reveal if the watch has been reported as missing.


The "Frankenstein watches" phenomenon

It's important to note the issue of "Frankenstein watches" at this point. Some counterfeiters use this method to make fakes appear more authentic by using original parts, such as the crown, folding clasp, or bezel. However, there is a distinction to be made between these watches and "mirage watches". Mirage watches are wristwatches that are completely reassembled from original parts from different brands, such as an IWC pocket watch case, an Omega calibre, and a Jaeger-LeCoultre dial. These watches do not claim to be original but rather aim to bring old components back to life.


It is important not to be fooled by Frankenstein watches that intentionally try to conceal fake movements. To ensure the authenticity of the desired watch, it is recommended to have it checked by a reputable watchmaker.


Use caution when buying from private sellers

When purchasing a luxury watch from private sellers, it is important to keep in mind the tips and advice mentioned above to avoid being deceived by a fake. However, if you are not an expert in watches and want to ensure the authenticity of the watch, it is recommended to only buy from trustworthy dealers such as Zurichberg. These dealers certify that all watches are 100% authentic, providing peace of mind and security for the buyer.

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