May 31, 2014
by Ariel Adams
FakeWatchBuster: It would be my worst nightmare to drop some serious cash and end up with a fake. I have seen this happen a couple of times on the watch forums and luckily it seems like there are happy endings in most of those stories. I often check out replica watches when I’m traveling, I get a laugh [out] of looking at Omega Seamasters with open-heart pretend tourbillons and similar monsters. I would have liked to study some of the higher-end replicas closer to learn even more, but, I could never have bought one. Maybe some repenting followers can donate a couple to me so I can dissect them, hehe.
aBlogtoWatch: Let’s say someone asks you, “Fake Watch Buster, how do I learn to spot fake watches? What is it that I should look for? How do I learn how to spot fake watches like you?” Any advice on that?
FakeWatchBuster: Great question. For me, in the beginning, it was studying a lot of genuine watches. My whole fascination for the details started when I saw quality control issues on the genuine watches, and that irritated me a lot. You know, like off-center engravings, bezels, markers and the like. I began appreciating the brands more that had less of these QC issues. When I then looked at the better replicas, the details that were off would just pop out at me. The more complicated the watch is, the harder it is to replicate. By just adding a date complication, you will soon see small space issues because of the size of an in-house movement, versus replica movements or even higher-end fakes with ETA. When you then go to a modular chronograph movement, like the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshores have, there will be both depth and space issues even [with] the most expensive replicas.
aBlogtoWatch: We’ve known each other for awhile, since you started your glorious mission to expose fake watches and the people who wear them. What some people don’t know, is that you’ve been faced with a lot of challenges! Tell me about some of the problems you’ve had to overcome to keep doing what you are doing, and why do you keep doing it? What drives you?
FakeWatchBuster: What drives me is the passion for genuine watches and I’ve always been interested in fighting a good fight. When I learned about these shady jewelers selling fake watches in their stores I was pretty shocked, and it’s this that has brought me the greatest challenge. I get a lot of cease and desist letters and threats of being sued for slander and the like. With the recent media attention, all this has died down, I guess they are running away more from the account as it gets more attention.
I have more and more support from the legit jewelers, I think they see it as something positive and in the long run I believe this will bring more customers to those that are proven trustworthy. I’m starting to get more offers for paid shout outs from several of the legit ones, but I don’t want to compromise the integrity of the account.
Instagram has also shut down my account a couple of times, I guess for breaking their Terms Of Service when it comes to harassment of other accounts. Hopefully, they will understand that this is a good public service, hehe.
aBlogtoWatch: You’ve got a really healthy following on social media, and I’d like to first congratulate you on that. A lot of that has to do with the fact that you are exposing celebrities and pop culture personalities that pose with fake watches. At first, did it surprise you that these people not only had fake watches, but were so proudly showing them off?
FakeWatchBuster: Yeah, this shocked me a lot. When I saw some of these first ones I really couldn’t believe my own eyes. I had to get it ten times verified from other collectors and watch experts to make sure I wasn’t missing something. I guess the recent media attention is due to the account targeting more of these celebrities, and I also think that brings the message out better as well. I think people are getting a laugh from this. I mean, when Rick Ross sings in the Veteran’s Day music video, “Looking at my jewels I’m still the motherfucking coolest” and then flashes a fake Audemars Piguet, it’s something everyone gets a kick out of because it makes him look a lot less tough, hehe. Also, Soulja Boy’s fake quartz Audemars Piguet being dead and stuck at 10:25 is pretty funny. There are also more and more celebrities following the account, including Dan Bilzerian and Macklemore. Legit jeweler, Ben Baller, also supports me and it has definitely helped me in getting the other legit jewelers looking at the account as something really positive for the business.
aBlogtoWatch: Social media seems to be a really good place for people to pretend that they are richer, better looking, or more popular than they really are. Studies have proven that following too much social media can make you depressed, especially because if you aren’t a critical thinker, like yourself. Comparing your life to what other people’s lives may appear to be like, can make you feel like your life doesn’t measure up. Do you think that maybe part of the reason for your efforts to bust fake watches is because you are trying to level the social media playing field, and expose those people who are causing unrealistic expectations among their followers?
FakeWatchBuster: Yes, for sure. If I were a follower of this account I would feel a lot better about my genuine watches at any price point, knowing some millionaires are flashing fake pieces. I really do believe we need to stop more and think once in a while [about] what we have, instead of what we don’t have. Watches are luxury items that can cause great fascination for the complexity in them. I mean, that is a lot of why I love them so much, but I would never ever trade happiness and love over nice watches. That being said, maybe if it were an A. Lange & Söhne Zeitwerk – nah, just kidding.
aBlogtoWatch: So after you expose those people who are wearing fake watches do you see them change their behavior? Do they get upset with you? Maybe threaten you? Does that give you a thrill, or is it sort just an unpleasant side effect of this hobby?
FakeWatchBuster: There haven’t been a lot of threats from individuals, much more from the jewelers. I guess most of them are just really embarrassed when it happens and move along. I get a bit of a conscience sometimes, but I really hope my account can teach someone a lesson and also educate people on why this industry of fake watches is bad. The whole educational part of the account is really important to me, and I try to include pointers and tells in the pictures so people can learn how to spot fakes and also learn more about watches in general.
aBlogtoWatch: Have watch brands contacted you at all? Perhaps to thank you? I know your “editorial style” is pretty tongue-in-cheek and imbued with humor, but do you think the major watch brands (whose items are being faked) recognize your value?
FakeWatchBuster: The official Audemars Piguet Instagram account [has] given me some nice comments and that meant a lot to me, and Jean-Claude Biver of Hublot also said some nice things in the Swiss press. Loosely translated, he said that my style was maybe a bit aggressive, but at the same time, he acknowledged the importance of getting the word out there about the replica industry. I understand that my account is not exactly business professional, but I do believe if people think about it a bit, that it’s the added humor and tongue-in-cheek style that makes the account work. Take that away, and you will have a traditional anti-counterfeit campaign that no one but the business and collectors themselves really pay attention to – preaching to the choir in a way. I guess these companies might be a little afraid to endorse the account because of this style, but I like to believe that they really like it without going public about it.
aBlogtoWatch: Some people might consider you critical or negative, and I am sure you can understand their feeling. Having said that, would you agree that part of what you do is to help weed out the bad, so that people can easily recognize the good? By calling out all the people with bad taste, aren’t you really also helping to identify those people with good taste?
FakeWatchBuster: Yes, absolutely. People ask me more and more about those that are actually real with their wrist game within the hip-hop culture. I think those people that see the account demand more from the artists they like, and I think this is a big strength for those that are actually buying genuine watches. Just look at Meek Mill who gave me some nice words on a radio show. People have had an enormous added respect amongst the followers for him as an artist because of the account. I’m also helping out this guy I busted – we have buried the hatchet and I’m helping him find a deal on a genuine Rolex. I really think that is the coolest success story this account can ever get.
I must also add an extra thank you to those that help me out with second opinions on the watches in question. Without this small team of experts, it would be impossible to run the account without making mistakes. These guys know who they are, best to keep it anonymous.