Watch Collecting Series - Identifying a Fake Watch

Sometimes this can be very obvious, other times the quality of a reproduction can be almost indistinguishable from the real thing.

There are a number of things to look for which may assist you in determining whether a timepiece is the real deal or not:

  • -The quality of the case
  • -Incorrect spelling of the wording on the dial and/or case
  • -The wording on the dial should conform to the wording on the back case
  • -The correct reference numbers on the back case should suit the style of watch, eg. may have a case number for a ladies model on the back case of a mens watch - we have seen this happen
  • -Look at the quality of the paintwork and any printing on the dial
  • -Check the quality of a bracelet band - has the band been finished to remove the rough edges?
  • -Check the quality of the plating
  • -Assess the quality of the stamping of any words and/or numbers on the back case - are they clearly marked or blurred in finish?
  • -Some brands have reference numbers on the clasps or bands - Check if appropriate to the brand - Also are any numbers again clearly marked or of poorer quality stamping?
  • -Does the watch have automatic written on the dial, but have a battery movement
  • -If the watch has a chronograph dial, do the buttons give the start/stop/reset functions, or do they just move the hands around

These are just some of the examples that we have come across over the years where generally newly aspiring collectors have come to grief when making purchases.

Generally nowadays secondhand or antique watches are purchased from a secondhand or antiques dealer or online, though they may also be handed down in the family or be purchased from a market, garage sale or auction.

Be careful when buying sight unseen from the internet - some examples of watches we have come across have been modified, possibly to 'smarten' them up to sell - such modifications can include:

  • -Incorrect dials and dial colours
  • -Incorrect bezels
  • -Incorrect glasses
  • -Incorrect movements

For any collector wishing to collect original watches, these timepieces should be avoided. Before committing to a purchase, you should carefully research details of the original watch. Avoid buying watches online where the seller is from a suspect country where there is a history of assembling watches with adapted parts. Purchase from reliable sources.

If buying online, research the history of the dealer/seller. Look for high positive feedback and avoid or treat with care those dealers who have negative feedback from unhappy previous customers.

Buy with full awareness, and always remember - caveat emptor - Let the buyer beware.

If buying from secondhand dealers, markets or garage sales, keep in mind - you are buying the watch in as-is condition, unless the dealer gives you a guarantee. If the dealer wants top price for a watch but is not prepared to give a warranty that the item is in good working condition, be aware that you may need to get the watch repaired at your own cost. Keep in mind the cost of potential repairs on top of the purchase price. Ask whether you can get the watch assessed by a reputable watchmaker before totally committing to the purchase - some dealers will allow this. It doesn't hurt to ask.

Collecting can be a minefield for the unwary or the inexperienced. Hopefully some of these tips will make it a bit easier.

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