Confessions Of Serial Replica Watch Buyers

Confessions Of Serial Replica Watch Buyers

Confessions Of Serial Replica Watch Buyers Feature Articles

About 25 million authentic watches roll out of Switzerland’s manufacturing plants annually, compared to China’s 663 million. It is a known fact that some of these latter watches are illegal copies of others, resulting in a colorful and dynamic, albeit seedy and clearly criminal fake watch industry. Why are some of the world’s top brands copied when others are left alone? Who buys these replica watches and why? What can you do to ensure you’re getting the real thing? Let’s see.

While preparing this article, I spoke with a number of people who freely admitted to being replica enthusiasts. “Just don’t use my name,” each said. One young man told me how he justified buying his first copy watch.

Confessions Of Serial Replica Watch Buyers Feature Articles
Real Panerai Luminor (left) vs. fake (right) Photo by Watch Report

“I had my eye on a Panerai Luminor Marina,” he confessed. “But at a price of $6,800, I wanted to be sure the size was a good fit for me. A week on the wrist ought to tell. Right? I put down $55 for the replica. I’m glad I did. The real one is beautiful, but after a week I decided the watch was just too big and uncomfortable.”

So he justified his replica purchase by saving $6,800 on a watch he personally wouldn’t have been happy wearing. Later, he told me how he disposed of the copy – more on that in a bit. Do replica buyers have no moral compass? Are they frauds, poseurs? Or fakes themselves?

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Image Credit: Oomphoto

Popularity Of Replicas

People spend a lot of time scouring the Internet for replica watches – something the Swiss say has no value whatsoever. Indeed, the replica industry costs the legitimate manufacturers billions in lost revenue annually. Of course, this makes the faulty assumption that the same people buying replicas would purchase the real thing.

When the authorities discover a large cache of copy watches they sometimes make a show of the consequences. In 2010, US Customs officials shot a video of their steamroller crushing 7,000 fake Rolex watches. The message is clear - the US will not tolerate infringement of intellectual property rights by counterfeiters. Along with the 7,000 watches it crushed, ICE discovered 24,000 more fake watches in Binh Cam Tran’s home along with enough parts to manufacture another million pieces. This seizure and arrest cost Mr. Tran $2.2 million in fines and restitution, as well as six years in prison.

Confessions Of Serial Replica Watch Buyers Feature Articles
A collage of social media posing with fake watches. Source: @fakewatchbusta.

The Most Popular Fakes

Counterfeiters aren’t artists. They’re business people. They go for the largest possible market. That means copying watches with the greatest perceived demand. The variety of original watches copied by criminals is enormous. More so, the makes and models copied must be expensive luxury items. Otherwise, the counterfeiters would be competing against the legitimate manufacturers for the same customer.

Remember, those in the market for replica watches are not the same people who buy the real thing. Both types of customers make their purchase decisions for entirely different reasons.

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At times it can be challenging to tell from low-resolution instagram posts. Source: @fakewatchbusta.

Now, it's not hard to guess what the most faked watches are. Rolex, Audemars Piguet, Panerai, Breitling, and Omega are amongst the brands that you're most likely to find fakes of. Like Louis Vuitton handbags, the most popular and desirable luxury items in a category are also among the most likely to be faked. According to MSN Money, Rolex lands at the 23rd spot in the most counterfeited brands on earth. This makes it the most counterfeited watch brand, though the range of popularly counterfeited brands includes brands like Cartier, Hermes, and, yes, Viagra.

Ironically, some luxury watch brands take pride at being widely copied. They see it as an acknowledgment of the brand’s popularity. Indeed, according to Ariel, Jean-Claude Biver (CEO of Hublot) once shared with him that the authorities confiscating so many fake Hublot watches is a testament to the brand’s market success.

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Image Credit: Telegraph

Where Do People Buy Replicas?

The answer is pretty much anywhere and everywhere. Most of the replicas come from China, but you can find fake watches for sale in basically every major city on earth. Canal Street in Downtown New York City, Tsim Sha Tsui in Hong Kong, London's Petticoat Lane market, and Sungai Wang Street in Kuala Lampur are just a few places that come to mind. However, the most popular venue is the Internet. Amazon, eBay, and others carry the Invicta brand – not a fake watch but a lookalike piece. At least these sites make an attempt at policing fake watches.

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Those set on buying a fake usually go to several of the countless internet sites that proudly sell replica watches. The low price is a sure tip-off. Buyers know (or should know) that they’re getting a fake. The only question is how “good” a fake is it? It’s impossible to tell from the fuzzy picture. Does anything work on the piece? Probably not. These internet sites sprout up immediately after the first is shut down. Check out their ad copy:

"We aren’t going to hide the fact that they aren't authentic…no one will ever know…we can almost be considered an extension of the actual brands themselves…even qualified people who validate the legitimacy of genuine watches can’t tell which one is real and which one is fake."

Of course none of these claims is true.

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A replica Panerai case back. Image Credit: Worthy Living

Remember that fake Panerai the young man interviewed earlier bought to test its size? “I was having lunch with a friend at the end of its week on my wrist,” he told me. “My friend admired it from across the table. Here, try it on, I offered. I carefully slipped its buckle off and made a show of cautiously handing it over, as if... My friend put it on, none the wiser. It looks better on you. Keep it.” I’ve heard the gag before.

“What? What! I couldn’t,” the friend said. “It’s too much.” Then the young man came clean and I showed him how to tell the fake from the real. “First, the crown is way too small for a real Panarai. The leather strap is stiff and machine stitched rather than supple and hand stitched. The crown lock bar is hard to move and is close to falling apart.” Not a remotely convincing fake.

Confessions Of Serial Replica Watch Buyers Feature Articles
Fake vintage Rolex dials. Source: Rolex Passion Report.

Frankenwatches

Now on to Frankenwatches, which alludes to various types of watches that are cobbled together by different watch parts, both fake and original. Frankenwatches have parts and pieces from all over the place, much like Dr. Frankenstein's monster which was made of a composite of body parts pulled together from various cadavers. Sometimes equally as grotesque, you can find these Frankenwatches made of fake or partially fake parts. However, there are also timepieces out there that use original parts but from different watches of undeterminable provenance. Still, one can find mostly genuine parts in the modification. For example, the case may well be the real thing. The dial too. However, when the case back is opened, all is revealed. The finished product may be intended to replicate the real thing or it may be something the producer believes is an improvement. Unlike the copy watches that try to imitate regular production pieces, frankenwatches are often modeled after rare and hard to find timepieces. They’re (falsely) represented as vintage pieces.

I spoke to a guy who was accidentally party to the production of a frankenwatch. He, in hindsight rather foolishly, gave his 20-year old Rolex Submariner to his neighborhood jeweler who swore he regularly serviced Rolexes. Silly him. When the watch came back the hands were shiny and new. “You changed the hands?” he asked.

Confessions Of Serial Replica Watch Buyers Feature Articles

“They were corroded,” the jeweler stated. “I only charged you $10 for that little service.”

“You used aftermarket parts?!”

“Why pay more for something that looks just like the original?”

“Naturally,” the guy said, “my watch’s richly patinated hands that matched exactly with the rest of the dial had been discarded and were irretrievable.” The Submariner that had faithfully accompanied him on every dive he had made around the world for twenty years was now a frankenwatch. A word to the wise; unless the watchmaker is a close and trusted relative, only use the manufacturer to service your watches and clearly state the work you want done.

Confessions Of Serial Replica Watch Buyers Feature Articles

You may recall an article right here on aBlogtoWatch, dated March 19, 2014, Watch Lover Celebrity John Mayer Sues Bob Maron For $656,000 After Buying Several ‘Counterfeit’ ROLEX Timepieces by aBlogtoWatch founder, Ariel Adams. Reading the details of the case it sounds more like the issue revolved around re-purposed parts – both real parts cannibalized from other vintage Rolexes as well as unauthorized parts – to make a more valuable single watch.

Regardless of its outcome, the case embarrassed both parties who probably should have known better. Still, it also cast a bright light on just how difficult it can be to identify minor imperfections buried deep within an otherwise authentic piece. The consequences can be financially disastrous.

Confessions Of Serial Replica Watch Buyers Feature Articles
Image Credit: Shanghai Brooklynites

Who Buys Replicas And Why?

Case in point: I have a client who collects yachts. By last count he has seven in his collection all bobbing in a marina just outside Los Angeles. Yet he proudly sports a replica Rolex Yacht-Master. Even to the untrained eye this paste has a garish orange tinge that glares from across the room. He’s had it going on two years now. He certainly can afford any real watch he wants. So why the knock-off?

“It was a Father’s day present from my kids,” he explains. “It would break their little hearts if I didn’t wear it. Besides, it keeps good enough time. It’s quartz!” So here is my first category of replica buyer - someone who could buy the Real McCoy – and probably has several – but for a reason that makes sense to him he consciously trots out the occasional fake.

Confessions Of Serial Replica Watch Buyers Feature Articles
Image Credit: Travel Past 50

Let’s call my second category - the unsuspecting victim ("un-vics" or "unvics"). Unvics are an endangered species but some still exist. They are walking billboards for handbags, shoes, sunglasses, hats, and – yes – wristwatches. All display the world’s priciest, exclusive logos. Unbeknownst to Unvic, some are fake. Authentic luxury items are sold in company-owned boutiques and the tony shops of authorized dealers located in the nicer parts of town. They are not sold at a deep discount on the street from the trunk of a beat-up Toyota. If it sounds too good to be true…

Confessions Of Serial Replica Watch Buyers Feature Articles
Image Credit: Bob's Watches

When buying a watch it doesn’t take much effort to be an informed consumer. There are tutorials by brands showing how to tell the real from the fake. Right here on aBlogtoWatch Ariel Adams wrote, The Most Common Fake Watches (May 31, 2014). Another from Bob’s Watches deals with spotting fake Rolexes.  When venturing outside the safe confines of an authorized dealer, having at least some knowledge can save huge embarrassment and often a considerable sum of money. For those who can’t or won’t educate themselves, find a knowledgeable, trusted advisor to assist with the search and authentication. I was in Hong Kong with a client a few years ago. He asked me to accompany him on a watch buying expedition. I was thrilled – buy a fine timepiece with someone else’s money? Now that’s a perfect day.

  • Ross Diljohn

    I’d rather buy what I can afford than pretend to have what I can’t. I loathe the fake industry but honestly the overpriced and cynically marketed brands just out to separate idiots from their cash have done little to endear themselves to me. Still, no fakes please.

    • Berndt Norten

      So you’re like Sinead? You don’t want what you don’t have??

      • Ross Diljohn

        I prefer to think of myself as a champagne supernova.

  • IG

    ABTW shouldn’t use the “replica” euphemism for fakes in a headline. Fake ? replica. Losers buy fakes.

    • MEddie90

      What’s the difference between a replica and a fake? I always distinguish between replicas and homages but I always think of replicas and fakes as being one and the same.

      • SuperStrapper

        He not happy unless hes upset. Just let him wallow in his own crapulence so he can enjoy his weekend.

        • IG

          You sound butt-hurt. Strap-on business is not booming?

          • SuperStrapper

            How long did it take you to come up with that one? Im highly susceptible to grade 4 insults and therefore devistated.

          • IG

            You should be.

          • SuperStrapper

            NO U

          • Berndt Norten

            Can’t we all just get along? Our common enemy is the wrist turd, our fearless leader is ‘Phil leave out the capital on my last name.’

          • SuperStrapper

            It will take someone like you to unite us all through the power of song.

          • Berndt Norten

            Sing, sing a song
            Sing out loud
            Sing out strong
            Sing of good things not bad
            Sing of happy not sad.

            Sing, sing a song
            Make it simple to last
            Your whole life long
            Don’t worry that it’s not
            Good enough for anyone
            Else to hear
            Just sing, sing a song.

            Sing, sing a song
            Let the world sing along
            Sing of love there could be
            Sing for you and for me.

            Sing, sing a song
            Make it simple to last
            Your whole life long
            Don’t worry that it’s not

            Good enough for anyone
            Else to hear
            Just sing, sing a song.

          • Raymond Wilkie

            I don’t even know what’s going on,………but that’s not unusual.

          • Berndt Norten

            She’s so unusual.

          • Berndt Norten

            Please see my post below. Let’s put aside our difference and unite in the noble battle against the wrist turd, and all those who would write positively about such things.

        • Berndt Norten

          I’m not sure I agree with your characterization of Eddie the Cruiserweight, but I will lend your ear an app–I mean song–for that. “Glad to be Unhappy.”

          • SuperStrapper

            Considering 90+% of his posts start with ‘I hate’ I think my characterisation is pretty apt actually.

          • Berndt Norten

            I see!

      • IG

        Fake is illegal copy by third party, counterfeit. Replica is for e.g. when manufacturers remake their earlier models but losers use it for fakes, like “homage” instead of knock-off.

  • First article I’ve read from start to finish in a long time!

    • IG

      Are there something about your knock-offs …er, “homages”?

      • Not sure what you’re trying to say. Would you care to try again?

        • IG

          No, I wouldn’t.

  • MEddie90

    Interesting article on a topic we don’t hear much about. One buyer I think you missed is the “but I like the design” guy, who attempts to justify it by stating they love the submariner design but just couldn’t afford a real one. Its always a lie of course as there are plenty of homage watches like steinhart and some squales that are dead ringers only with the branding removed. I’ve met a few of these guys and they refuse to admit they just wanted a status symbol.

    • DanW94

      I thought about this type of buyer also. I think they’re the most conflicted in their replica purchase. They’re often authentic “watch nerds” with a real admiration for the brand and genuinely love the designs and would purchase if they had the funds. But there’s also this underlying resentment that the watches are so expensive and unattainable. They justify the fake because they’re wearing it for all the right reasons, i.e, an appreciation of the real thing and not just as a “look at what I can afford” status symbol.

      • Berndt Norten

        Indeed, some people like the look of a brand and know that they can get something for a fraction of the price of the real thing and it might please them, most of the time. I know one person like that. He has never bought the fake but he keeps saying he will, and these are his reasons. He works in the jewelry business and knows where to get the fakes. He tells me some are so well done (the IWC) ‘I’d be foolish to buy the real thing.’ Yet he could afford to buy the real thing.

        • DanW94

          And I think it’s a kind of a middle finger to the avaricious Swiss watch industry. “Hey, I admit I like your product, but I can get something that looks exactly like it for an iota of what you want to charge me and 99.9% of the population will never know the difference”.

          • Berndt Norten

            Exactly

          • Berndt Norten

            The closest I came to buying fakes was about five years ago when I bought at least five Parnis watches so I could tinker with them, take them apart, build them back up, teach myself a thing or two about watch servicing. I tell you those Parnis watches are absolute ?. Just horribly built, wildly inaccurate, unpolished and downright unreliable. I kept one. The other four or so went into the garbage. Irredeemably ?y. Two of them broke almost immediately, before I opened them.

            Having said all that I am aware that some fakes are made with ok Japanese movements and will be more reliable

  • rainmaker

    I’ll rather be seen wearing a Seiko or GShock than a fake. If one can’t afford the real deal, then forget about it and get something within your means. I just don’t quite understand why people wanna buy fake watches, just like women with fake silicone boobs.

    • Berndt Norten

      I think it’s because they wanna be somebody, be somebody sooner than the wallet allows. As for the boobs….that’s another question!

    • And yet fake boobs cost more than real ones – unlike fake watches.

  • SuperStrapper

    Fakes is on the list of reasons why rolex is not a preferred brand of mine. Not really a deciding factor, but its there. Most of the time the first question someone has about a rolex is ‘is it real?’ Which i personally find insulting. It’s an appropriate question though considering the tidal wave of fraud associated with the brand. I know many people with a rolex and none of them seem to mind the question, so I guess you have to be a real watch nerd to have that get under your skin? It’s happened to be a few times with Panerai (only luminor, never with the rad) and it’s always pissed me off.

    Fakes market is never going away tho.

    • commentator bob

      The thing is a Rolex fake is never going to be nicer, while with Panerai it is quite possible that the fake has a better finished Unitas movement than the real thing. See the Panerai PAM 318 scandal.

      http://watchesbysjx.com/2011/11/explaining-the-saga-of-the-controversial-panerai-pam318.html

    • Moonraker

      I think the ‘is it real?’ question sometimes just pops out innocently instead of as a recognition of the vast Rolex counterfeit industry. Like if I went over to my mom’s house with a new Rolex, or in a Rolls-Royce, she might ask if they were real just out of surprise. She doesn’t know anything about Rolex or that there a lot of fake Rolexes or about Rolls-Royces either, she’s just aware of the brand names and that they’re expensive. I think there are a lot of people like that and that’s what might be meant sometimes by ‘is it real?’

      • SuperStrapper

        You’re absolutely correct. But some brands are just so synonymous with fraud that I think it serves to breed those subconscious behaviours. Chicken or egg.

        If aunt She’naenae notices the shiny new DeBethune on your wrist and you show it to her, she’d ooo and aah politely, but she wouldn’t ask if it was real because she’d never heard of DeBethune until 10naeconds ago. Same scenario with a rolex and it might be her first question, asked innocently as you declscribe but still out there just the same.

        • Yeah but Auntie would be shocked if you told her what that purdy DeBethune costs.

          • SuperStrapper

            Nah, she just wouldn’t believe.

  • #The Deplorable Boogur T. Wang

    A rather heavily edited piece. (have I seen this before ?- it reminds me of something making the rounds in the last few years. Designed for manufacturer appeal)

    IMO, about 80% of the Rolex’s one sees are fakes. Very sad; but that is the truth.here are of course some very good fakes, or replicas if one prefers. Using very real metal and the latest bracelets and clasps with sapphire glass and Asian movements that can, and regularly do, fool people in the industry. With a bit of research these can be found.

    But at the end of the day – A Fake (or Replica) is still not an authentic item.
    Caveat Emptor and buy what you like I say.

  • Han Cnx

    “Misspelling the manufacture’s name is usually a dead giveaway.” .. but not always, then? 😉

    • SwissMatic

      Yeah sometimes Rolex and Patek misspell their names on their watch dials. Nobody’s perfect 😉

  • Phil leavell

    The Counterfeit Fake watches fit perfectly into today’s society. This form of homage that definitely fills a need, the Swiss watchmakers should be proud of the fact someone is bringing a product that looks like there’s the market at a price point that people can afford.
    Come on now even the Swiss watchmakers pose & hoes each other , Omega are trying to become a competitor and a new Rolex, I guess they got tired of presenting us with heritage vintage look homage watches that are grossly overpriced for what they are but that’s is acceptable apparently.
    The truth is people in general wish to have the appearance of status wealth when they have an achieved. So they go fake, like alot of today’s society. It truly makes me laugh and giggle and then the sadness sets in, because these posers and hoses and teaching their children to live the same way.
    The high-end watch makers should be proud someone thinks their product is worth forging. Then again they could always change their price points where they didn’t make the greedy profit and made their product more affordable to more people But fakes will always be made for those who don’t want to do the works and earn it

    • Berndt Norten

      Excellent points especially your second sentence.

      Now, tell us Philo de Scato, are you saying that the modern consume-mass-quantities-world-in-which-we-live-in is… a ??!

      • Phil leavell

        Not only a ? , but a poser ? and they can’t even get that right. And thanks for that last site you gave me my eyes are still bloodshot. This enter webbing & uTuben can be very entertaining thanks again

  • Berndt Norten

    What’s a ‘fake’? Conor in the ring. He looked like a total amateur. Wait….

    As for Panerai fakes, the more basic and boring the watch, the easier to replicate.

    To paraphrase Lenin, the worse the better. The worse the real watch, the better the replica will be.

  • Jon Heinz

    A hand-me-down fake Day-Date (quartz, no less) got me into watches and indeed led to the purchase of the first of what would be a line of various genuines including two Rolexes. Nowadays I try to use “homages” as much as possible to try before I buy. Parnis, Invicta (I have a Speedway right now, exact dimensions of a Daytona but lighter of course), Didun (AP knockoffs) etc. Cheaper, and doesn’t feel as dirty.

  • Steve M

    You Tube is full of those who support Fakes and encourage their purchase. I agree with all that is negative in this article. The one area not given the required documentation in the article is the labor of who produced this junk and where the funds from the sales go to. That is not a happy story!

  • TheChuphta

    If find it hard to gin up much emotion regarding this topic. Just like with women’s handbags these things core value is in their branding. I have little sympathy for an industry that produces products that can be so easily and effectively copied. I used to work with a woman who would go into hysterics when she saw a lady with a fake purse. “Oh my god! She’s so trashy! That’s totally fake.” Shockingly, no else cared at all (especially when she started talking about how much the purses cost and we’d all laugh at her for spending so much). These are essentially vehicles for nuanced class distinction. I figure, if someone wants to spend 4 or 5 figures on a watch (or any inessential luxury item), go for it. I did. But it’s kinda pathetic if someone also needs some Veblen industry manufactured reassurance that they’re a better person than the horrible leper who bought the fake.

    • BNABOD

      I then have two leper cousins . they wanted the “status” symbol even though they both can afford the real deal but they could care less about the actual product

      • TheChuphta

        Scandalous. They must be a source of deep shame for your family. I will sleep a little less easy tonight knowing that they may have even bought a replica of the watch I paid good money for. The horror!

        • BNABOD

          damn lepers

          • Berndt Norten

            Damn Yankee Lepers. And blame Canada.

          • Phil leavell

            Blah blah blah I’m off to Chinatown to buy a luxury watch off a highly reliable cart

    • DanW94

      My handbag made in China by slave labor costs 100 times what your “fake” handbag made in China by slave labor costs. You’re a terrible person 🙂

  • BNABOD

    seems to me at times the industry shoots itself in the foot. Let’s use an example I am looking for a pepsi and coke bezel insert for my genuine GMT Master II. Guess what, you can’t buy it from Rolex, no sir, can you call an AD and buy one, no sir…..so what are your options, you look for an independent cw21 watchmaker w parts account and then see how much they will charge you. And this is where it becomes a problem, I am sorry but a aluminum piece of insert for 250 bucks is nuts. So what do people do? they go on ebay and look for inserts that look 99% the same and fit just right for 12 bucks.
    I get it Rolex does not want part floating around which is why they dispose of all their service replaced parts but the insane replacement cost pushes in my view the fakers to thrive and the folks that do not have limitless piles of cash to go that route. I personally I am waiting to see if I can find one at a reasonable to me price but make some parts available through ADs .
    good luck finding bracelet spring bars for a rolex clasp: yeah found one selling 1 spring bar for 27 bucks, I am sorry but that is just plain stupid.

    • Berndt Norten

      Great post. I think what you’re saying is that the ‘exclusive’ nature of luxury Swiss brands leads to a business model designed to defend the ‘exclusivity’ and to ward off counterfeiting etc. And the price of that model is the big houses treat us with contempt.

      • BNABOD

        there is plenty of contempt and snobbery to go around. they don’t even send back the pieces they change and if you do want them back the price is then different since the cost they charge is for “exchange” . gimme a break . I like the style I like the look, not pancake thick, timeless and you can wear these watches w pretty much anything but there comes a point you just want to give them the middle finger. You want a replacement bracelet because yours has too much stretch, that will be 2 grand, whoa really 2 grand for something w clasp made out of tin foil.

    • commentator bob

      The problem is that different aluminum bezel inserts that were either all the same price or close to the same price originally are now commanding vastly different sums. A green bezel on a sub adds $3,000. A Coke bezel on a GMT II adds $1,000 and a Pepsi another $1,000. That’s why Rolex need to control its parts.

    • Yeah for $27 you should at least get a pair of springbars.

      • BNABOD

        I am serious 27 bucks are you kidding me??? look I get it some precious hands from 1967 with intact lume you will pay for it dearly but spring bars and alu bezels..I have my limits

        • Yes I was kidding. I should have used tags around it, ha ha.

          • BNABOD

            I know I was just reminding myself of how ridiculous prices for stupid things have become

  • Raymond Wilkie

    This is fake news.

  • Yan Fin

    Interesting twist on the sermon today.

  • TrevorXM

    Here’s a question maybe somebody can answer from experience: What is the very best fake Rolex Submariner? On what site can it be found? Really curious as to how good they actually are.

    • commentator bob

      Black Bay Black.

    • TrevorXM

      I’m really interested in how far they go and at what cost — what is the limit for Chinese fakers where it’s not economically viable to fake? Do any quality, intelligent posters have any feedback on this question? All I’ve got so far are “This user is blocked” bugs on the windshield.

      https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/ee2cf3312c76985294373054290700eb46edecd52e1ad0768e90baef501d670c.jpg

      • MEddie90

        Funnily enough I had the same thoughts a while back. Was curious at what point fakes became economically unviable, surely there is only so far you can replicate before you start to approach the cost of the real thing.

        I think noobwatch factory are one of the better ones. They have movement replicas and last time I checked they even had a guy lazer etching the crown logo on the crystal like the genuine article.

        Imho this is the point where it gets worrying as even to an enthusiast the watches are hard to tell apart from the real deal without disassembly, one of the reasons id always get a watch verified by rolex service centre before purchasing.

    • Mikita

      There isn’t any absolutely perfect Sub replica simply because they can’t make it from 904L steel. But there are astonishingly good Panerai replicas for 128$ (noob factory), even having a caliber based on 6498 modified to look like Panerai’s inhouse (which is also simply a 6498 mode).

  • John Stevens

    You could argue until you are blue in the face with the replica buyer that he is much better off buying a Seiko sarb or even a Seiko 5, at least it’s real but these people are not watch “nerds” and it’s a Seiko and not a Rolex.

  • Everyone knows that the good replicas are not sold on streets. The Rolex enforcer guy said the he won’t judge Submariners because sometimes he can’t even tell. Even though you should never buy a Rep. It shows you that you can get basically a submariner Ceramic can be sold for a profit at $450 instead of $7500. Ok ok.. Marketing…let’s say $1000 is a fair price.. Ok ok R&D, boutique margins and whatever. $2000 should be the price of a Real Submariner C No Date. There you go.
    If you have manufacturing experience you would know that after having the tooling in place, manufacturing the watch will cost you less than 150 dollars eeeeeasily especially when you make the same model for decades.

  • Alexandre Leupin

    What is the real damage done by a fake to a legit brand? IMHO, very small. A fake copies the design (which happens all the time between legit brands, witness similar looking watches or four-door sedans, which look all the same to me). It steals the brand, but with little harm to the real one, nobody will confuse a fake and the real thing, and the guy who buys a fake most probably will never buy the legit model, so there is no economic damage to the brand. The real mechanism is too expensive to be replicated, hence no breach of patent. All in all pretty harmless, and not worth criminalizing it. Of course, selling a fake as the real thing, now that is criminal, but I think it very rarely happens, the fake industry is not in that business.

    • Berndt Norten

      R E S P E C T for INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY.

      FIND OUT WHAT IT MEANS TO ME. (and IWC.)

      OR, HOW ABOUT THE RULE OF LAW?

      Fraud?

      Innocent people who buy fakes thinking they are real and get fleeced for thousands of dollars?

      Hmmmm

      • Beefalope

        It’s not a postmodern or nihilIstic critique. Take it easy.

        Rather, it’s a recognition that these massive corporations are not our friends and don’t care about us, so we shouldn’t care about them.

        I don’t buy fake watches, but I don’t care if people do. It doesn’t make them bad people.

        • Moonraker

          Of course they’re not bad people. If they like the look of a Rolex Sub, for example, by all means they should go out and get something that looks like one. But once ‘Rolex’ is put on the dial, I think that’s a little cheesy. And if these fake wearers are really doing it as an FU to Rolex, that’s a little passive aggressive and childish.

        • Berndt Norten

          I wasn’t really being serious, Captain Beefheart! I tell jokes to myself

        • IG

          So then why would one advertise those massive corporations wearing fakes of their products?

  • Jim C

    The kid who bought a fake PAM didn’t like the look and feel. Maybe because it was fake?

    • ffuhcu

      Possibly because it was a cheap fake. The more expensive PAM replicas don’t have the problems mentioned and – depending on the model – are almost indistinguishable from genuine, particularly models with the Unitas 6497 movement which has been available in high quality clone form for many years.

  • jayson.langdon

    An entire article about fake watches, bashing buyers and sellers, yet no real advice on how to spot a fake!

    For those of us considering buying our first high end watch and not wanting to be conned, the omission of how to spot a fake is a massively wasted opportunity. Article is more of a rant than a helpful literary piece, stating some fakes are obvious “across a room” or “by the colour of the metal”. Great, now SHOW me the difference! I’m 0% wiser spotting a fake after reading this.

    Giving common sense (e.g. check the name is spelt correctly) advice makes me think; actually, fakes must be hard to spot otherwise why haven’t you dissected the fake watch industry with a blow by blow list of ways to spot the fakes.

    If anyone can point me to a better site or article on how to make sure a watch is genuine when buying, that would be great!

    • Raymond Wilkie
    • Han Cnx

      Spotting a fake isn’t actually difficult because sellers will readily tell you. Those big signs ‘Genuine Fake Watches’ in the article pictures are not just for comic relief, it’s completely indicative of how upfront sellers are on what is being sold. Their sales pitch is not based on pretending they’re real, but usually on the quality of the watch or how well it matches the original. “Grade A copy” and all that.

      It’s actually the buyer who is out to deceive, by having people think they’re wearing a fancy watch.

    • TrevorXM

      Go to an Authorized Dealer in a store or verified online and buy new. You will be able to negotiate with everybody but the Rolex guy. Alternatively, forgo the factory warranty and go to https://www.ablogtowatch.com/jomashop-convenient-reliable-watch-buying-experience/

      If you’re spending thousands of dollars on your first high end watch, why would you put yourself in the foolish position of having to determine if a watch is real or a fake? You are ruining the whole experience, and there’s no reason to put yourself there. None.

    • cluedog12

      The best offence is a good defence, or something like that. Here’s some advice.

      1) Visit the replica forums RWG, RWI and RepGeek (do Google searches for these) and spend a few hours on the forums. There are plenty of posts that will compare “reps” to “gens” in great detail. Many of people on these forums often own genuine watches too, so the comparisons are done out of a deep curiosity. You’ll discover the minute details that separate the real from the fake. It can often be something small like the quality of engraving, the depth of the date wheel or feel of the crown. Sometimes, the rep can be sent to a workshop to clean up minor quality flaws and bring the rep up to the level of the genuine article. It’s quite fascinating.

      2) Buy watches that aren’t easily replicated. This ensures you’re wearing a conversation starter when you’re in the company of other watch lovers.

    • jayson.langdon

      Awesome advice from everyone who replied: thank you so much. Just a shame this advice wasn’t in the article.

    • Ariel Adams

      The point of this wasn’t to prevent you from getting a fake watch. There is no one article that can educate you on all the ways to avoid that, since there are many types of fakes. The only real way to avoid a fake is to have enough experience with real watches so that you can see the differences with your eyes.

  • Han Cnx

    it’s true that luxury brands don’t lose much money directly from fakes because the people buying a fake buy it mostly as a gimmick, and would never even consider investing thousands of dollars in a watch. However.. there is definitely a big indirect loss, as many people think twice about buying a genuine Rolex, because some people will think it’s fake, or they’ll get questions if it’s real, etc. The same by the way applies to very close replicas/homages with a different brand name slapped on.. It’s got to impact Submariner sales that there are millions of copy-cat lookalikes around; it cheapens the look.

    • BJ314

      No one who can afford a Rolex is worried about being accused of buying a fake. lol There is absolutely no connection between the consumers of fake and real watches. Either you can afford the real one or you can’t. What cheapens the “look” of luxury products is the internet in general.

      50 years ago, you needed to be wealthy or be in the right place to see a Ferrari or Rolex. Even if you came into money, you didn’t even know what to buy, because you didn’t know what existed. The luxury lifestyle brands catered specifically and exclusively to old money and select entertainers.

      Now that everyone can see what the wealthy own, they can find it and buy it. In essence, there are no exclusive products or as you say “looks” anymore. Because anyone with $10,000 can get his hand on a luxury watch. and because of the internet, you can buy that $10,000 watch at a 20% discount.

      • Moonraker

        50 years ago you could get a Rolex for $210. That’s between $1500 and $1600 today. Not chump change by any means, but hardly only for the wealthy.

      • emoonshot

        I own a few Rolexes, acquired new from boutiques and also inherited. I can absolutely say 100% that the existence of high quality fakes and frankens keeps me far away from the vintage and pre-owned Rolex markets.
        One thing this (generally poorly written, waste-of-time) article doesn’t mention is that there ARE fake watches being created now that can fool even the experts. It’s a much bigger problem than any of the watch blogs have cared to acknowledge. And while there are ‘quality’ fakes/frankens of most of the major brands, this is overwhelmingly a Rolex problem. (Besides my own research I also know a few researchers/buyers at one of the big auction houses. Let’s say I do not envy their job.)
        To the point. While Rolex isn’t directly losing money on my refusal to engage in the pre-owned market, I’m still not investing nearly what I otherwise would in the brand itself, per se. And that refusal is entirely due to the untrustworthy status of one of that brands largest market segments. This is not a position any manufacturer wants to find themselves in.

  • Yan Fin

    I heard that the B-brand is secretly making fake B-brands to boost the image of the original. Quality is the same. Oh, wait, this was just a good sale.

  • wallydog2

    Of course “real” is better than “fake”. On the other hand, an established up-scale brand can charge $10,000 for a $1000 watch by dint of reputation, status symbolism, cache, bling/glitz/salesman-of-the-monthism, “excessive” refinement, snobbery, etc., etc….
    Beyond a $threshold, the up-scale brands can sucker the a-fool-and-his-money crowd.
    Luckily, anyone deliberately buying a “fake” with the hopes of misleading someone else is still beyond buying the real thing thinking that will impress someone else. In other words, if what is on your wrist is for show only, then that’s male peacock behavior, something like Donald Trump wearing a big red tie hanging down in front of his pants zipper.

  • TrevorXM

    A fake Rolex should be the official symbol for the modern China. It encapsulates and sums it all up.

    • Tempvs Mortvvs

      Hublot should be the symbol for western Europe. It does the same. Invicta should be the symbol for the USA, as well.

      • Berndt Norten

        Isn’t Hublot a bit more NBA and less EU? The general tenor of politics in Western Europe is certainly not bling blingy. Au contraire it’s anti-capitalist, anti-cosmopolitan, left of center (when it’s not populist/xenophobic). Not exactly Hublot’s key attributes or values

  • Word Merchant

    If you deliberately buy a fake watch you’re definitely an idiot. If you accidentally buy a fake watch then you’re probably an idiot, and definitely stupid.

    Either way, your purchase comes free with some of my contempt.

    • Pat Mercer

      If you buy a Rolex at retail price then you are an absolute fool and probably pretentious as well. You better have at least $500k in cash at hand in order to justify blowing your money in such a way. I would argue that 97% of people that buy new submariners know nothing about what they just plopped down $10k+ for other than their favorite celebrity wears one or that some seemingly successful person they look up to wears one(even though there’s a good chance he bought it on a credit card without his wife knowing). The manufacturers that produce the most duplicated watches generally sell them at prices that make them 1000% profit. They could easily sell their nonsensically priced wares for $1000’s less but choose not to because they have been able to create an artificial sense of value for their products. I’ve never bought a knock off watch but absolutely would if one happened to cross my path that looked good and the price was right. Not because I want to be a poser(I have 6 watches that I love but rarely wear them for my own reasons), but more to do with their history when people used tool watches to perform a specific task, other than fitting in with the ultra white teeth crowd, which I have 0 interest in. I would have 0 guilt in buying a knockoff knowing that Rolex have deliberately chosen not to market to the masses.

      • If you want a tool watch (in this case, I assume a dive watch, since you mentioned Submariners) that IS marketed to the masses, why not buy one of the hundreds of iterations of Seiko offerings from $200 SKXs to the more tony but still affordable MarineMaster? These are highly regarded “tool” watches in the dive community – not to say that people don’t dive with their Subs and Tudors (I do, because that’s what they’re made for). Buying a knockoff just because you think you’re sticking it to Rolex is sort of an odd strategy. In the end, no matter how you justify the purchase of a fake, you’re left with a a low quality watch when your money could have been spent better elsewhere.

      • Moonraker

        It seems like a battle between 2 groups of status-seekers. And the fakers think the reallies are stupid for paying all that money when they can have almost the same thing for much less. But if you’re only after the name on the dial…
        Why not just fight hard for a discount on the real thing or not wear one at all?

        • DanW94

          The Reallies vs. the Fakers. Great musical, I think Bernstein set the music to that one…..

    • Beefalope

      Oh no! Your contempt!

      • Word Merchant

        Oh yes. Quiver in fear, mortal.

    • egznyc

      I like your distinction. Of course, there are also plenty of idiots and stupid people buying real watches, but I’m a glass-half-full kind of guy so I also see plenty of thoughtful people buying real watches. Even if they resemble other more well-known real watches.

  • “Do replica buyers have no moral compass? Are they frauds, poseurs? Or fakes themselves?”

    If you buy a Sub-knockoff with the Rolex logo, you’re an unscrupulous reprobate.

    If you buy a Sub-knockoff from one of the 6 dozen Kickstarter companies offering Submariner “inspired” watches, well, then you just might be in the target audience for a sponsored post on any number of watch review websites.

  • commentator bob
  • Razzcal

    Preachy much? Holy lord.. Not that I have any real fondness for fakes (in any arena) as such, but this sort of high horse preaching is mainly vomit-inducing and, if anything, hurts your point more than helps it..

  • tknospdr

    1. It’s illegal, comes with potential jail time, and hefty fines.

    2. Humiliation when you’re discovered – and you will be discovered

    3. Hurts the legitimate manufacturer’s business and depresses the lawful industry while encouraging the fraudulent manufacturers.

    4. Perpetuates substandard working conditions at the fake factories using child labor and toxic, hazardous materials.

    Do you admit that it’s a replica?

    The person who is capable of buying the real thing: “Always.” Then justifies it in some self-redeeming way.

    Unsuspecting victim: “Maybe.” It’s more humiliating to admit having been fooled than by the actual fake watch.

    Bling: “Never!”

    Cool story bro, however; looks like you’re leaving out a lot of facts to placate your advertisers.

    1. It’s illegal to manufacture and sell replicas. It’s legal to own them. Customs routinely allows people across the border with 2 rep watches and a rep handbag when coming back from countries that are known to sell fakes. They’re looking for the folks who move mass quantities across borders, not the guy who bought a rep PAM.

    2. You’re forgetting a class of buyer here which I’ll outline below. You’re also not taking into account the very nice upper classes of replicas out there. I’ve owned some that you would only be able to tell were fakes if you looked at them with a loupe, or opened them up. Neither scenario will ever happen in any encounter unless the wearer allows it.

    3. You got me there, except that as you say. 99+% of the buyers of replicas aren’t in the market for a genuine anyway. So it hurts them how? I think smart watches are depressing the industry more than fakes.

    4. You’ve been to how many fake producing factories to know this first hand? There are a lot of people that build the better watches by hand and make their living that way. I wouldn’t want to kill an entire economy so I can feel better about wearing a 10k watch on my wrist.

    After “Bling” comes…

    Regular guy, IE me.
    If someone asks me if my watch is real I’d say. “Of course not, here check it out.” Then hand it to them. 9 times out of 10 they’d say, “Wow, that’s nice. I couldn’t tell.” And I say 9 times out of 10 as an estimate, because out of the thousands of interactions I’ve had with other humans while wearing my ‘device that makes me a horrible person’, some of which could afford any watch they want. I’ve had exactly 1 person ever bother to ask.
    If you ask me why I buy reps, I won’t try to give you an excuse when the truth will do. I just choose to spend my money that way. I enjoy wearing lots of different watches. I had a gen Omega once. Wore it for a few months then wanted to wear something else. I lost my ass reselling it. I’d rather buy something for a few hundred, wear it a while, then buy another when I’m ready to switch up and not cry into my milk when I take a $1000 loss.

    • I know in France and Italy it’s 100% illegal to own a counterfeit watch – or other luxury goods. In NYC, however – and I would suspect in the rest of the states as well, since IP comes under federal law – it is illegal to sell them, not buy them. The law only apples to the supply side and not the demand side. I’m not sure why the article states differently.

      • Berndt Norten

        If you are asked about your ‘Rolex’ when passing through customs in certain Euroweenie countries and say it’s not real, they’ll confiscate it.

        • emoonshot

          If you say your Rolex is counterfeit at nearly any customs desk in the developed world it will be confiscated. And up until 2015 no person entering the United States could import a Rolex except one (1) worn on the wrist. If any legally purchased genuine Rolex was found in carry-on or checked luggage, it could be confiscated and sold at auction…for export only.
          But yeah, Europe. So weenie, right? MAGA.

          • Berndt Norten

            P.J. O’Rourke, “At Home with the Euroweenies.” A classic, satirical essay. It’s written on paper. In a book. From the 1980s. But you’re likely a millennial with your use of MAGA.

            And I’m a European so there!

          • emoonshot

            By god, that is an obscure reference. I read his Parliament of Whores probably twenty or more years ago and still hear him occasionally on the radio, but no, I’m not familiar with the Euroweenies essay. And fyi, the use of MAGA alongside a disparagement of Europe would be a safe indicator that you’re communicating with an older, more…oh, I’d don’t know, ‘traditional’ individual. Though my use was entirely sarcastic.
            Either way, I surrender the match and sue for peace!

  • funkright

    This was a thoroughly enjoyable article. Great read!

    • Ariel Adams

      Thanks.

  • Ulysses31

    I would have thought the primary reason to buy a fake would be the much lower cost. If you regard a watch as a fashion item, similar to designer clothes, then you might not even think twice about buying a fake watch just as people have no problems buying pants, dresses and handbags that look eerily similar to designer versions. In such circles it is quite ordinary to try and replicate the look of some hollywood celebrity with similar substitutes. On the other hand, if you regard watches as the sophisticated and complex machines they are, then buying a fake would be anathema to you and you wouldn’t even consider doing so. Things that are hard to acquire tend to be cherished more and enjoyed more. For that reason I could never wear a fake. I’d rather wear a cheaper watch honestly than pretend I can afford something extravagant.

    One of the strangest things i’ve seen is the existence of fake watches that are already cheap to buy quite easily. I’m talking fake Seiko 5s etc. I just don’t understand that at all.

  • Rob Crenshaw

    What is the point of this holier-than-thou “article”? To affect some change in the world of Chinese business practices? LMAO! To change the buying habits of people who buy fake watches by shaming them? LMAO! To make the ablogtowatch demographic feel superior? Hmmm, now I think I’m on to something.

    This site has become a laughingstock. First there’re sponsored ads disguised as stories and actual stories disguising sponsored ads, then there’s Ariel’s jaw-droppingly naive economic theses about the watch industry and how to fix it, his solution being the formation of a cartel to globally price fix watches (LMAO!), and now this bizarre drivel, in which the author spends one entire wasted paragraph bragging about being treated well at an IWC boutique because he knows rich people. Please tell me what was the point of that paragraph in a piece about fake watches?

    This site has fallen into the dumps and takes itself far too seriously. Fake luxury goods have been and always will be, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery or, the only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about.

    • Ariel Adams

      It sounds as though you are upset and that someone hasn’t been paying attention to you. Not liking the tone of a few articles and the conclusions made and you say the site is going down? No, you are just another person who isn’t finding their own opinions represented here. Not being able to really identify what you feel, you rather erupt with a bunch of unprovoked anger. Was there a moment when aBlogtoWatch attacked you out of the blue? There are actual people here that work here and run this site. If you have a complaint why don’t you contact us and discuss it, rather than deflect what really seems like unrelated aggression on fellow watch lovers.

      • Rob Crenshaw

        Wow, now you’re an expert at psychoanalysis! LMAO! Your reading of my thoughts, motives, and intentions is as naive as this article. I’ve been reading ABTW for about 3 years, and it had a simple focused purpose: watch news, reviews, show reports, first impressions. Over the past year or so that purpose has expanded into territory in which you are a fish out of water, and if you think I care enough about this website to contact you privately to offer suggestions instead of just typing here in Comments, well, that is just another example of your naivety. That kind of advice and venue is why you hire a business consultant.

        I can barely believe I have to explain how the Internet works: because of the anonymous nature of a Comments section, people will flippantly leave all manner of speech, most of it knee-jerk and off the cuff. They write things they would not say in person, make jokes they would not make, use language they would not use, the Internet offers a direct path to someone’s unfiltered gut reaction. If I had to offer some constructive advice I’d say: rather than reacting to my strong words with a personal counterattack that accomplishes nothing (it doesn’t offend me because it’s the Internet), realize that there are 9 likes to what I wrote, so the sentiment resonates with some of your readership.

  • Tempvs Mortvvs

    When i read the headline, i thought i would be reading the confessions of people who serially, serially, buy replica watches and why they do so. I read no such thing. Fake title concerning fake and replica items. Does two fakes make one true?

    • Berndt Norten

      As ‘Butch’ said to Esmeralda Villa-Lobos, ‘this is America, honey. Names don’t mean shit here.’ Alas, words don’t mean much to the poorly educated under 40s who hold forth on things horological. That ship sailed a long time ago.

      Ever seen one allusion to great art, music, literature or poetry on this site? Do you think a single writer has read The Economist on a regular basis? They iz absolute beginners. Well meaning, to be sure. But naive. Like, why do people collect?

  • Mark1884

    This seems like a weakly written no substance article. While in China, I had the opportunity to go to a department store. The third floor was all knock off watches. Every brand was represented. Some looked good, some horrible. I was not a buyer.
    I have never had anyone challenge or question any of my watches. If I am ever asked, my reply will be “replica watches are for scumbag losers” I do not wear/buy fake anything.
    If you can’t afford the real thing – don’t fake it. Buy a genuine watch in your price range.

    • Berndt Norten

      A ‘weakly written no substance article’? Shirley you jest. Not here!

      • Mark1884

        I am serious……… and stop calling me Shirley 🙂

        • Berndt Norten

          Ok Marky Mark.

  • Tõnis Leissoo

    If a watch is replicable at a fraction of the retail price (400USD instead of 10000) and when you need an expert to tell the difference then the watch itself is clearly not worth the asking price. I have one very simple advice: don’t buy watches that are too easy to replicate!

    • cluedog12

      Agree 99.9%. There something to say for volume too. A watch can be difficult to replicate, but if a stable demand is there, the Asian workshops can replicate anything.

      As a boundary case, consider a hypothetical situation in which people demand a good replica to the Piaget Altiplano 900p. Can you imagine a scenario in which a good replica emerges after many years of iterative improvement, supported by ongoing strong sales from the rep community? I sure as heck cannot, but I know that the markup on that model is as large as the markup on anything else.

      • Tõnis Leissoo

        Of course it has a markup but it cannot be replicated with 400 neither 1000USD. I’m pretty sure that 1000USD is about the highest price anyone would pay for a replica.

        • The Swiss markup from “in the box and out the door” is ten times cost. So the Pigaet retails for $24,900.00.

          Thant means it costs $2490.00 to make and put in the box.

          If the Swiss can do it for that, it can probably be made on “the Rim” for fifty buck s or so. That’s $500 at retail.

          What am I missing here?

          • Anssi Sajama

            That “ten times cost” means something costs ten times the amount. 10x$249=$2490. $24,900 would be 100x$249. So “the Rim” version would be $5000 in your case, not $500.

  • Marius

    I find this article quite bizzare and unintentionally hilarious.

    Firstly, I find it strange to see ABTW criticize fake & replica watches considering that, just yesterday, ABTW proudly announced that it was invited at the Hong Kong Watch Show. Now, if you look at the “maisons” attending this event, you will see that a few of them (“a few” is a massive understatement) are in the business of heavily copy/pasting European brands.

    Secondly, the overall tone of this article sounds as if the author is some undisputed moral authority preaching to the sinners who buy fakes. I expected the article to end: “If you ever bought a fake watch, say “Ave Maria, gratia plena” 157 times, and then flog yourself 37 times.

    Thirdly, the “analysis” of the various types of buyers of fake watches is quite amusing. ABTW seems to have migrated from pseudo-financial analysis to pseudo-psychoanalysis. The author of this article seems to be the clear & legitimate heir to Sigmund Freud, and his psychoanalysis of the various types of fake watch buyers is sharp as a scalpel, and incisive as a Thai ladyboy.

    Lastly, my absolute favourite part of this article is the description of the IWC experience. The author explains how he accompanied a client to the IWC boutique in Hong Kong, and adviced him on various watches. Besides the fact that this paragraph — as Rob Crenshaw pointed out — has nothing to do with the topic at hand, I was utterly amused by the fact that the author asked a loupe to check the serial numbers of the watches. In other words, he went to an OFFICIAL IWC BOUTIQUE, yet checked the serial numbers of the watches. That’s quite brilliant. Personally, I have always assumed that you can be sure that watches bought at the official boutique are always authentic, but it seems that you shouldn’t take this for granted. Until today, the only “checking” that I’ve done is in bars in Bangkok, but it seems that high-end watch boutiques are not what they used to be, so you better start checking & comparing serial numbers of brand-new watches.

    • Berndt Norten

      Start your website

  • commentator bob

    Only buy real Chinese watches, not fake Chinese watches:

    Here is an interesting article on a site selling Sea-Gull watches about fake Sea-Gull watches.

    Seems the Chinese get very mad about fake watches, if it is a Chinese brand.

    https://www.seagullwatchstore.com/category-s/1838.htm

  • commentator bob

    I am opposed to infringing on names. But not designs that are no longer protected by design patents. There is no copyright protection in the US for “useful articles”, including functional items like watches. The design of functional items can be protected by design patents, but those only last 15 years. With good reason, companies are supposed to be motivated to keep coming up with good designs, not to rent seek on perpetual monopolies. Companies have been abusing trademark law to protect design under the guise of “trade dress”, but that is an abuse of trademark law, which is intended only to protect names and logos, not serve as a substitute for design patents. I would not wear the Royal Oak knock-off below, but I have no problems with it (it is, for one thing, a much higher quality knock-off than a Hublot). If you do have a problem with it do you also have a problem with the Tag Heuer Submariner knock-off below? https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/9463381381ff2b85f0302e1eaf7ceb4ecf76453e8e4574a018805bbe8b9d6dee.jpg https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/29d040f1cdaaa68db4f91f9d20d04e98e585329d0b7476080ac7df8f5837affb.jpg

    • egznyc

      You’re on the money. Trademark law is meant to protect buyers by assuring them of where a particular product comes from, that is, which manufacturer made the product. Names and logos are intended for this purpose, and designs are not.

      So that Steinhart you’re eying for its Submariner looks might cause some WISs to look down on you but it isn’t illegal, either for the purchaser or the seller.

      • commentator bob

        Steinhart makes really nice stuff. I would not buy their homage stuff, but they make top grade Swiss watches, and not all of it is homages. Plus in their defense no less than Tag Heuer kept itself in business through the ’80s making Submariner homages.

        Sure a Steinhart Sub homage says “I like the Rolex look but cannot afford one”, but so does a Black Bay. And some details of the Steinharts are nicer.

        • egznyc

          I would only slightly amend what you’ve said to say that the homages tell people “I like the Rolex look but either I cannot afford one or I am not interested in spending that kind of money to get the look.” 😉 I’m trying diplomatically to make it clear that sure, maybe we could afford one, but we’re just too parsimonious to part with the money. Some will see this as wrong and others will see this as wise, but how we spend our money is very much an individual decision.

          FYI I’ve never seen a Steinhart in the wild but I’ve heard they have very good build qualities. So I’m not surprised.

          • dennis

            I own a Steinhart and their really made well all around, and i also
            own a Sub, does that make a bad boy?

          • egznyc

            IMO absolutely not. But I don’t know you and maybe you’re a bad boy irrespective of this ;-).

            Just curious: IF your Steinhart is a Sub homage, why do you have it? Is it your “beater” Sub? Or did you get the Rolex from a generous uncle? 😉

  • Beefalope

    Boring, uninformative article.

  • Larry Holmack

    Just an FYI…there are even watch forums dedicated to “Replica Watches.”

    With so many companies out there making “homage” watches, if you are looking for a certain style…someone is making one that is a lot better than a cheap Chinese replica.
    What I have found very amusing is that there are “Invicta” replica’s out there….and some cost more than a “real” Invicta!!! Now that is funny!!!

    • Moonraker

      …and I don’t care who ya are!

  • tknospdr

    This story’s title is “Confessions Of Serial Replica Watch Buyers”, my comment was the only thing that actually matched the title and it was removed. I guess this story isn’t meant to shed any light on the rep market, only to further the agenda of the author, truth be damned.

    • Mark1884

      Well, thats because you posted two pages of what we already read. Then you explain that you like to wear fake illegal watches.

      • tknospdr

        I didn’t write two pages, the entire story is just two pages. I quoted the points that I wanted to counterpoint. And I wrote about what was missing from the article, not what you already read.
        Then I explained my reasons, which fits in with the title of the article better than anything the author wrote.
        At no time did I endorse buying reps, or suggest anyone try them , or give advice on where to seek them out. So it’s certainly not spam.

        • Mark1884

          Well, you actually do endorse wearing fake watches. You had one real watch, and lost money on it. So now you support the illegal replica watch trade.
          Really, what is the point to wearing a fake watch?? People recognize it as a fake, even if they do not say anything. I could never take anyone seriously that was wearing a fake watch. In the business world, this would be a flag telling me this person is not truthful and is concealing something. I would not trust them. Do yourself a favor – look at some lower priced brands and find one that you like. There are so many nice watches that “borrow” design cues from the big boys. You are sure to find something to please you.
          Fake watch = fake person.

          • tknospdr

            It’s what I decided to do, I’d never suggest anyone else do it. We’re all big boys and girls and can make our own decisions. You’re free to interpret that however you want.
            I’ll agree to disagree, there are fakes out there that do definitely pass for the real thing. Certainly not all of them, you can’t make a blanket statement like that and expect to be taken seriously.
            Just checked my pulse, definitely a real person.

          • Mark1884

            Sure, some might pass as genuine.
            The person wearing the fake knows inside that “they” are also a fraud.
            Fake watch + fake person + supporting criminal activity = SAD

          • tknospdr

            Again, agree to disagree. The only sad thing is that you feel the need to put someone down for their choices just because you don’t agree with them.

          • Mark1884

            Wear your fake watches in good health! 🙂

  • Stanley Yiu

    Buying replica watches are like masturbation: Nobody admits to it, but you know there are tonnes of people out there doing it.

    • Like that expression: There are two kinds of people in the world. Those who masterbate and those those who swear they don’t.

  • Buy and Sold

    I know a couple of guys worth around $30m each and they wear replicas from Bangkok. They do so because they feel like they are winning by saving money and nobody would expect people in their position to have replicas. They feel like they are one up on people and saving thousands!

  • Mikita

    I’ve always had a hard time to see why brands like Steinhart are making cool legal stuff. 90% of their offers look like fake Rolex to me, and shifting the logo isn’t enough for me (but seems just fine for their fans).

  • JF Schnell

    Not trying to be a watch snob in any way. People buy what they want or what they can afford. In any way most of us have bought fakes or replicas if not in watches in any other craft. I’m not at all devil’s advocate here just saying that even though people buy fakes I would ask seriously why watch makers highly speculate prices?

  • Deplorable#4416

    I knew a guy who was obsessed with these things. Had all the Chinese websites and was always trying to get people to get into it with him. Had a watch box loaded with these pathetic things he break out and show off at parties, unaware of the snickering, as he tried to pull up the websites and try to get others to make orders. He was like, “Even a jeweler can’t tell the difference!” One night we were out and he started talking watches with this dude at a bar and the guy looked at his Fauxlex and said, “That fake,” inside of two seconds. I was dying watch the dude I knew scramble with excuses like, “But, but, replicas make sense when traveling!” and the usual stuff the guys who wear them say. So funny.

  • elbeik

    I’m surprised there are “advantages” to buying a fake watch.
    There are plenty of affordable decent brands out there.
    Reminds of the typical excuses found on the bay when seller try to pass on a fake; “it “.
    Replica / fake watches are simply toilet paper.

  • Mike Darwin Brown

    Rappers are not the only people who purchase fake watches….. or enough of them to keep the industry going….I bet there are many other culprits!

  • Joo Kim

    This is a reason why Smart Watches will also play into the Fake vs Real debate.
    A Smart Watch (Samsung/Apple) costs from $300-$800.
    They do more than a classic Watch, carry non of the stigma of Quartz or Fake.
    And as time goes on they look more and more like “real” watches.

    All the Fake Buyers just need to switch over.

    If you Buy fake now, its cause you want to.
    If you Buy Real is Cause you want at least one Grail piece.
    But your everyday Watch will become the Smart Watches.

    • How about fake Apple Watches? They are already out there at least in appearance.

      • Joo Kim

        True, they run android but look like an iwatch.
        I dont think the Smartwatch world has iconic look and style yet.
        So the current style is still in flux.

        Its mostly about the function of the watches.
        Tech companies also tend to change drastically styles over time.
        Its part of the DNA of the world.

        Copies will always exist, its the ROI that determines if a industry pops up.
        Smart watches dont have the High/Luxury Costs so are a little less likely to have that issue.
        Android is Free, so if 3rd parties want to make a Cheap Look alike, no one cares.
        Apple may be the exception though. But even their Watches will get cheaper over time. In tech, costs come down and used/refurbished units are plentiful. So Copy cats catch really make a lot by pretending to be apple.

    • Moonraker

      Any thoughts that don’t eventually come back to smartwatches?

      • Joo Kim

        Sure. Simple.

        No One should ever complain about what Luxury company wants to charge for their products. As a consumer you can buy it or not.
        However those same people should not complain about Fake products because the fakes are again something you dont have to buy.
        I never believe what Luxury companies claim is the “Costs” of manufacturing and materials. 90% is BS.

        But again as I stated it does not matter if its BS, cause its a Luxury Product.

        If you want to Buy a Fake – Fine.
        If you want to Not Buy a Fake – Fine.
        If Rolex wants to go after the Fake Products and those that sell it – Fine.
        If they want to let the Grey Market go on – Fine.

        This entire issue is about protecting Brands that don’t matter, except to the collectors who value the prestige of the brand they own. But ultimately its a perceived value that can evaporate.

  • Alessandro Guarda

    Writing that “the replica industry costs the legitimate manufacturers billions in lost revenue annually” is a non sense.
    Who buy fake (or good replica, which are WAY FAR from the cr@p shown in these pictures) watches will either buy also the gen (using the try-before-buy way) or, oppositely, will never ever spend the amount needed for a gen because they just think that it is stupid to overpay something with heavily inflated prices just because they are “luxury” and there are much better use for such money.
    I think instead that there are brands that benefit from some of the (good) rep existence: they are so so near to the real thing to be distinguishable only with a magnifying glass, and from expert people, and therefore they just increase the visibility of the brand. De facto a form of advertise.
    The only real problem in this world is related to those that try to sell them as gen (eBay is full of this unfortunately). That is the real “evil” of the reps. And only that.

  • A Esparza

    Oh boy if you only know how many reps are out there.

  • Andrew Steel

    Buying replica watches in the US is not illegal……

  • JohnP

    I have generally enjoyed this blog, whether or not I agree with the article content. I have to add my voice to the folks saying this particular article is more than a bit lacking research and balance. A category you could add is “people who refuse to pay ten thousand dollars for a watch with a hundred dollar movement and mostly made from asian parts. ” My particular disappointment is the lack of fact-checking before publication, especially regarding what is “legal” and where.

    • Ariel Adams

      I think the sticking point for many people on the aBlogtoWatch team is the fact that the lower-price watches that have elements worth admiring when compared to Swiss prices is the name on the dial. This entire conversation would be different if replica watches did not contain as much deceptive elements. They should just put their own names on the dial.

      • Craig A Clark

        That’s the difference is it not between replica and homage? Parnis for example produce watches that replicate Panerai and IWC to name just two, but are very clearly branded as Parnis. Replicas however emulate every aspect including the movements and mods to the movements. People have different reasons for buying replicas, and as long as they are not seeking to decieve anyone about the original of the watch for financial gain, I’ve no beef with it.

  • BeardieTheDuck

    “A word to the wise; unless the watchmaker is a close and trusted relative, only use the manufacturer to service your watches and clearly state the work you want done.”

    I hate that this article implies that all independent watchmakers are crooks. Actually, it’s only through independents that you can get your vintage Rolex serviced and *not* have to deal with your patinated hands and parts being thrown out, because RSC policy is to replace it all with service parts.

  • Creig P. Sherburne

    I came this close to buying a fake Rolex Submariner. I ended up buying a used Canon lens and a Seiko which I absolutely adore instead. See, I have limited funds, and if ever I could save up for a new $8,000 watch, it would be money much better spent on camera gear or a car or a vacation. So the fake would have been a subversive punk rock choice for me: taking the Rolex name and style and subverting it. I’d never have passed it off as real, and if I did, I’d fool nobody. Anyway, I didn’t do it because I need to make my dollars count, and it was a much better choice for me to go with a real modest watch and a macro lens than it was for a fun punk rock middle finger stunt.