How to Tell a Genuine Rolex Watch

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How to Tell a Genuine Rolex Watch

A Rolex watch is considered a status symbol, and is held in high regard by many watch collectors and aficionados.  The popularity and prestige of a Rolex makes it an easy target for counterfeiters, who make and sell millions of fake Rolex watches every year.  While a fake Rolex may work fine as a timekeeping device, it does not carry the same quality and prestige as an original Rolex.  Here are some ways to tell a genuine Rolex watch from a counterfeit.

Case and Bracelet

A true Rolex watch is heavy compared to a counterfeit.  Rolex makes its watches from solid stainless steel, gold, silver, or platinum; it is not plated with precious metals.  Rolex counterfeiters use poor-quality stainless steel or chrome.  You should also check the finish of the watch case; if the case is coated with metallic paint, or if the finish chips and scratches easily, the Rolex is fake.

A foolproof way to tell a genuine Rolex from a fake Rolex is to inspect how the links of the band hang.  If the links of the bracelet bunch up against each other, the watch is counterfeited.  The links on the band of a true Rolex hang smooth, and will not snap or bend when pulled or jerked with a good amount of pressure.

Hand Movement and Cyclops Crystal

Rolex watches are precision-engineered to move in a precise, smooth motion that is difficult to imitate.  The best way to tell whether a Rolex is real or fake is to check the movement of the second hand.  The second hand of a fake Rolex or a re-branded Rolex ticks away, while the second hand of a genuine Rolex moves across the dial with a sweeping, smooth motion.

The date aperture is also a good way to determine if you bought an authentic Rolex watch.  The cyclops crystal on a real Rolex is clear and perfectly centered, magnifying the date clearly from whatever angle you view the watch from.  On a fake Rolex, the crystal is foggy, off-center, or does not magnify the date.

Reference Hologram and Documentation

Rolex places a reference hologram at the back of every Rolex timepiece that shows the following:

  • The Rolex logo embossed and engraved in emerald green
  • A hologram of the Rolex “crown” insignia
  • The reference or serial number of that particular watch.

Brand-new Rolex watches are never sold just as watches.  An authentic Rolex timepiece is always sold in a jeweler’s case – not a jewel case or a plastic container – complete with authenticity certificates, a two-year replacement warranty should the watch fail, and a badge of authenticity.

Winding Crown, Bezel, and Face

Inexpensive imitation Rolex watches are built for mass production, and not for quality.  The winding crown, rotating bezel, and the face of a Rolex timepiece are good indicators of the authenticity of the watch:

  • Engraving. The only engraving you’ll find in a real Rolex watch is on the rotating bezel.  The expert engraving on the bezel should be your first clue; a Rolex does not have engravings or other special markings at the back of the watch case.
  • Smooth movement. Unlike other watches, the winding mechanisms of real Rolex watches do not click.  Inspect the watch to ensure that the bezel and the winding crown offer resistance, but move very smoothly and have no sound at all.
  • Sapphire crystal face. The face of a Rolex watch is made with sapphire crystal, not glass, heavy plastic, or quartz crystal.  To check the crystal, put a few drops of water on the face of the timepiece.  The water droplets should come together at the center of the timepiece.

Counterfeit Rolex timepieces are everywhere, and are sold at the same competitive prices of authentic Rolex watches.  Taking the time to check the quality and the craftsmanship of an authentic Rolex timepiece will give you a precious heirloom that will last a lifetime.