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If you're strolling down Canal Street in Manhattan and some shady dude named Johnny Rolex says he can give you a great deal on an authentic watch, obviously you're going to end up with a fake hunk of metal. But how do you spot a fake Rolex watch when the circumstances aren't so obvious? You've gotta know your stuff, that's how. Pay attention to the details, and learn how to spot the small differences between a real Rolex and a totally bogus bootleg.
Put the watch close to your ear and listen. Do you hear ticking? If so, it's a fake. This is one of the fastest and simplest ways to spot a fake Rolex. The real things are quiet as a mouse, but fakes often tick.
Look at the second hand of the watch. Authentic Rolex watch hands are like little twirling ballerinas, and they sweep around flawlessly without any jerks. The copycats just can't compete with Rolex's superior technology, so a fake watch hand will usually look a little herky-jerky as it makes its swoop around.
Flip the watch over and look for a hologram sticker on the case back. On the sticker, you should see the signature Rolex crown symbol, and a reference number underneath it. Some top-notch forgers use actual holograms on their phony watch stickers, but most just use a plain old flat sticker. To tell the difference, look at the sticker from different angles to see if the pattern moves and changes like a real hologram. Remember, trippy hologram action alone doesn't guarantee authenticity, but if that sticker doesn't shimmy it's a sure fake.
Look on the sides of the watch. On the sides of for-real Rolexes, you'll find a model number and case number engraved at the 6 and 12 o'clock spots. Fakes? Not always.
Check the glass. Real Rolex backs are made out of super fancy sapphire glass, but fakes feature plain old glass. How do you tell the difference? If you drop a bit of water on the sapphire glass of a real Rolex, it'll bead up. Water just smears on plain glass.
Pay attention to the "Cyclops Magnification Bubble." Yes, this sounds like a term from a futuristic sci-fi movie, but it's the name Rolex gave to that little raised bubble of magnifying glass that sits centered over the date on the face of the watch. On phony baloney Rolexes, that cyclops bubble is often off center, or it's made of plain glass that doesn't really magnify.
Give the whole shebang a good once-over. Let it rest in your hands. Does it feel heavy? It should -- otherwise it's a knockoff. Also, look at the numbering and lettering. Fuzzy lettering, uneven spacing and shoddy engraving are telltale signs of a fake.
Don't be fooled by the words "genuine replica." That just another way of saying "fake."
Don't buy fake watches. The counterfeit watch industry has ties to organized crime, so when you buy a fake you could be supporting a whole host of illegal and dangerous activities.