How to Spot a Fake Rolex: 8 Tell-Tale Signs to Look For

Rolex watches are so highly sought after that they are a prime target for counterfeiters and scammers. These days it all too common to buy a fake by accident.


Jessica Braun Gervais
Updated 21 April 2021
How to Spot a Fake Rolex: 8 Tell-Tale Signs to Look For
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United States Counterfeit Goods Statistics


$1.3 billion in counterfeit items seized each year
$200 billion yearly loss to businesses

$959 billion (estimated value of the counterfeit market by 2022)

Source: Library of U.S. Congress

Sections on this page
  1. 8 Ways to Spot a Fake Rolex Watch
  2. How to Avoid Buying a Fake Rolex
  3. What to Do If You Buy A Fake Rolex
  4. Frequently Asked Questions About Fake Rolexes

Rolex watches are a sign of luxury and fashion. The Swiss brand has been crafted intricate timepieces since 1908 and has since mastered the art of watchmaking. Unfortunately, the prestige and demand make the brand a prime target for scammers and replicators, resulting in thousands of fake Rolex watches for sale.

8 Ways to Spot a Fake Rolex Watch

Genuine Rolex watches hold a lot of detail, which is part of why they're so beloved. When you're purchasing a Rolex, look out for the following red flags:

  • Stuttering second hand
  • Lightweight
  • Basic winder
  • No date magnification
  • Poorly engraved model and serial number
  • Missing Rolex logo on the watch face
  • Engravings on the back of the watch
  • Price too low

A Stuttering Second Hand

Authentic Rolex watches don't tick like other watches. The silence is because they have what watchmakers called a smooth second hand. If you listen closely to many watches and clocks, you can hear the seconds counted with a ticking sound. This is known as a stuttering second hand because it makes short pauses with each second.

The second hand on Rolex watches moves smoothly around the face and doesn't make any noise, so a stuttering hand can be a sign of a fake.

However, just because a watch has a smooth second hand doesn't automatically make it a real Rolex, but having a stuttering second hand does mean it's a fake.

The Weight

Rolex makes watches using high-quality metals such as Oystersteel, platinum, and stainless steel. The quality metal gives the watch a noticeable heaviness. Fake Rolex watches are made from cheaper metals and don't have significant weight to them. If you hold a Rolex watch and it feels relatively light, it's likely a fake.

A Basic Winder

Every aspect of a Rolex watch is artistically made, which is why they cost so much. The winder, which is how you adjust the clock's time, will be finely crafted if it's a real Rolex. You should notice many grooves finely etched into the winder, and the tracks shouldn't be uneven.

No Date Magnification

Rolex watches display the date on the left side of the clock's face. There's a Cyclops lens on real Rolex watches that magnify the date by 2.5 times for easier readability.

A fake will not have a magnification over the date, or the magnification won't magnify enough.

Real vs fake Rolex date magnification
Genuine Rolex watches will magnify the date by 2.5x. (Source: Bob's Watches)

Poorly Engraved Model and Serial Number

All Rolex watches have a perfectly engrave model and serial number. To view the numbers, you must remove the band. You should see the model number near the top of the watch, and it shouldn't be misshapen or hard to read.

The serial and model numbers of an authentic Rolex have been written with precision and will have fine and straight lines, which you can observe using a magnifying glass.

Missing Crown Logo on Watch Face

All Rolex models made in 2002 and later have a micro-etched crown logo at the 6 o'clock mark. It may be hard to see with the naked eye, but you should be able to see it with a magnifying glass. If a seller claims to have a new model watch and there’s no micro-etched crown logo, it’s a fake.

Real vs fake Rolex watch face
If your Rolex watch doesn't have the iconic crown logo on the watch face, it's a fake. (Source: Bob's Watches)

Engravings on the Back of the Watch

There are a few rare models with engravings, but most Rolex watches do not have words or logos engraved on the watch's back. The back should be smooth and should not be clear, meaning you can see the clock's gears.

Low Price

Rolex watches are handcrafted pieces of art that can sell between $5,000 and $50,000. There are some million-dollar exceptions for specialty pieces, but the average person pays between $8,000 and $12,000.

In general, if you find a Rolex watch for less than $5,000, there's a good chance it's not real, even if it's previously owned and sold at a discount store. Rolex makes watches that last a lifetime, so even used watches maintain their value.

Scammers will often post fake Rolex watches at low prices less than $1,000 to make you think you’re getting an unbeatable deal.

How to Avoid Buying a Fake Rolex

No one wants to be in the position of questioning the authenticity of the Rolex they're buying. If you're going to feel confident that the watch you're purchasing is a genuine Rolex. Before you buy a Rolex watch:

  • Make sure to buy from an official dealer
  • Ask for authentication
  • Research the Rolex model
  • Look for red flags on the product listing

Buy from an Official Seller

The best way to ensure you're purchasing a genuine Rolex watch is to buy directly from Rolex or an official Rolex dealer. According to Rolex, only official dealers have the authority to sell Rolex watches, and purchasing from one is the only way to guarantee your watch's authenticity.

It is possible to find real Rolex watches at pawn shops or through online community stores such as Craigslist or eBay, but there's always a chance you could pay for a well-made fake.

Also, be wary of discount jewelry stores. Some jewelers may be selling real Rolex watches, but unless they're official dealers, you can't be sure you're getting a quality timepiece.

Ask for Authentication

If you purchase from an official Rolex dealer, you're guaranteed an authentic watch. You can tell if the dealer is official by looking them up on the Rolex website or seeing if they display the official Rolex plate in their store.

If you are purchasing the watch from somewhere else, contact a local Rolex dealer and ask if you can have the watch authenticated. Official Rolex dealers are experts in Rolex watches and can identify whether the watch is real or fake. If the person selling the watch seems reluctant to get the watch authenticated, take that as a red flag that the watch isn't real.

Research the Rolex Model

Before you purchase a Rolex, do some research on the models you like. Get an idea of the price range and see if there are any nuances in the model to help you spot a fake. For example, some older Rolex models such as the Rolex Datejust have "stainless steel" or "registered design" engraved on the back.

The more you know about the model you're purchasing, the easier it'll be to notice a fake Rolex. Some scammers also post listings with fake model numbers, so before buying, Google the model number to see if it exists.

Look for Red Flags On the Product Listing

If you see an ad for a Rolex on Craigslist, Facebook, or eBay, look out for posts with grammatical errors and blurry photos. Scammers will often take poor-quality pictures, so it’s harder to notice the details of the watch.

Also, be wary of ads on public marketplaces with commercial photos or photos you’d see in an official advertisement. Scammers may try to use professional photos to make you think you’re purchasing a real Rolex.

What to Do If You Buy A Fake Rolex

If you bought the watch on a site such as Craigslist or eBay, notify the website. Try to provide as much detail about the transaction as you can and explain why you believe the item you bought was a fake Rolex. They'll likely not be able to get your money back, but they can block the seller from continuing to sell fakes if they believe the seller was a scammer and knew their product wasn't real.

Unfortunately, if you've purchased a fake Rolex, there's not much you can do to get your money back. To be safe in the future, always buy from an official dealer and don't make the purchase if you doubt the authenticity.

Frequently Asked Questions About Fake Rolexes

How do I spot a fake Rolex?

There are many tell-tale signs of fake Rolex watches to look for, including the second hand, engravings, the model number, and the Rolex logo. As long as you know what to look for, you should be able to tell the difference between a fake and a genuine Rolex watch.

Are fake Rolexes illegal?

Yes. It's illegal to both sell and buy counterfeit products, which makes it even more important to tell a real Rolex from a fake one. Even if you buy a fake Rolex watch from another country, you can be charged for bringing it into the U.S. 

How much are fake Rolexes worth?

Most fake Rolex watches are sold for under $1,000, much lower than a genuine Rolex. While you may assume they're worth the same as a non-branded watch (or even more because the design replicates that of a Rolex), they may be worth even less since selling it could land you in trouble with the law. 

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