Oh dear, the trouble a fake watch can get you into

It can be extremely difficult to spot a fake Rolex, such is the quality of pieces coming out of China.

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Only the Rolex in the left is real.

By Bani McSpedden.

So our federal politicians have been caught accepting Rolex watches from a Chinese gentleman, with the story being they thought they were fake.

Fortunately others with a keener eye deemed them to be the real thing, which on checking they were, leading to the unfortunate recipients being forced to surrender their gleaming gifts – some of which were valued at up to $40,000.

The thing about a fake Rolex is that it can be extremely difficult to spot, such is the quality of these pieces now coming out of China.

Sydney watchmaker Max Schweizer told the Financial Review that usually only a watchmaker can tell a fake from the real thing.

“They’re of such good quality that it’s difficult, and you have to take the watch to a Rolex specialist who has the tool to open it up and check.”

Those making these so-called replicas of course have the real (case-back opening) tool and make sure their watches have the corresponding thread, often adding a sprinkling of other genuine parts as well.

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Which is real? Left again.

Schweizer, “Out of one Rolex they can make three fakes, using the dial for one, the case and movement for others. And it’s not only Rolex, but Omega, Breitling…”

Obvious tell-tale signs – without opening a watch up – are clumsy lettering, slightly misshapen hands or numerals, mis-matched bezels and sometimes a battery-driven quartz movement where there should be a self-winding mechanical one.

With a battery movement the seconds hand jumps from one second to another, while a self-winding watch has a visibly smoother action.

Apart from that, the fake might be lighter in the hand or have a cheaper Chinese movement, but the sophistication of such pieces is on the up and they can cost several hundred dollars.

Schweizer, “Often they’re given as gifts, and there is no paperwork, another give-away. I’ve had several brought in and it’s always a delicate matter, telling someone a watch is not genuine … they ask ‘Are you sure?’”

“Seeing it on the wrist you might never know, and I’ve had people proudly showing me a fake, telling me it’s to wear when travelling overseas. I point out they’re mad – in Europe they don’t expect you to be wearing a fake, and you might be mugged for a two hundred dollar watch.”

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