The vintage watch market is booming. Millennials, with over $200 billion to spend are more conscious buyers than previous generations and vintage, pre-owned watches are on the shopping list.
When we say “ridiculously expensive” we know it’s not about the bling bling. But owning a piece of artistry, a piece of history costs money. Pre-owned vintage watches are priced anywhere from $2000 up to $10,000 and a lot higher.
When you are making this kind of high price purchasing decision I’ll bet there is only one question on your mind.
How The Heck Do I Know If It Is Real?
The replica and forgery market is growing just as quickly as the vintage watch trend.
There are so many fakes out there someone’s even built a career out of picking them out. The Fake Watch Busta spends his time trawling the internet and photo shaming on his account.
He says, “Rolex is [the] number one [commonly] faked brand, especially amongst those with the cheapest replicas. The next most common faked watch is Audemars Piguet. I think the rise of Audemars Piguet is due to its popularity in the hip-hop culture and also due to its original price point being high. The Rolex DayDate and DateJust are the most copied Rolex watch modes and then the Submariner after those.”
The feeling of finding out your 1920’s vintage Rolex is actually a 2015, Chinese copy is akin to this guy finding out his 2 million dollar Picasso was a $1000 replica. I mean it’s gotta be blood rushing from your face, then back into your face, chest pumping, pupils dilating, throwing your phone against the wall kind of infuriating stuff.
So to make sure that never happens let’s go through some key elements to look out for.
Know What The Watch Should Look Like
Most watch companies have some very specific markings to prove legitimacy, however, with the counterfeit market as advanced as it is, many fakes are virtually identical to the real ones.
It can also get pretty confusing for the buyer, there are so many brands and different models. So, do your research, find photos from multiple sites online and make sure they cover the front and back of the watch with close detail so you can compare.
This is especially important when buying pre owned watches online. If the listing only has one or two photos, contact the owner and ask for more.
Is The Engraving Low Quality?
The engraving on a pre-owned vintage watch is a fiet of craftsmanship that should be easily distinguishable from a low cost engraving. The easiest way to describe the difference is with a little show and tell:
Does The Watch Feel Lighter Than It Should?
If you are buying from an auction house or a second hand jewelry store always ask to handle the watch. Does it feel like quality materials have been used? Stainless steel and gold will have a weight to them. The cheapest replicas will be made from steel and even plastic with synthetic leather straps. Above all, know which materials the watch should use and then check to see if the watch you are buying uses those materials.
Are All The Words Spelt Correctly?
Yes, this seriously does happen! I know it’s hard to believe but spelling errors are quite common on replicas. Double check all of the lettering, this is an easy way to tell if your watch is a fake.
Is The Logo There And Does It Appear Centered?
Check where the watch should have a logo first. Many replicas engrave or add the logo onto the wrong place. Many just miss it entirely. And many manage to put the logo in the right place but off centre.
Is The Back Casing Correct?
Should the back casing be clear or solid? Often replica watches save on material by adding a clear plastic back casing when it should be solid. You might also find the back casing is engraved when it should be smooth, or the other way around.
Check The Serial Number
All pre-owned vintage watches should have a serial number. Depending on what year the watch was made it could be located on the case, the side of the watch or another area. The serial number is with 6 or 7 digits starting with a letter. The letter is an indication as to which year the watch was produced. Once you have it call the manufacturer and check, they can tell you if it is genuine.
Use A Reputable Dealer With Experts Who Have Vetted The Watch
If you are a first time buyer stay away from auction sites like Ebay which have a tons of replica watches. The sophistication of some of them is so strong now that even the experts have a hard time deciphering real vs fake.
Sites like Chronoexpert have a team of experts which vet the products found on the site, this keeps your purchase safe. You still get the luxury and convenience of buying online but with regulation and security for buyer and seller.
Post The Pictures On Watch Forums And Ask Others
Specialist forums like Watchuseek are a good place to go if you want other watch enthusiast’s advice. Post the pictures up and ask; Is it real or is it fake? You’ll be surprised by the generosity.
Pablo has been a keen watch enthusiast for well over a decade. his mission with Chronoexpert is to leverage to leverage digital and technology to improve the efficiency of the watch purchasing process for pre-owned watches.