How to Tell Between a Real & Fake Rolex
in Jewelry Blog

How to Tell Between a Real & Fake Rolex

When looking for a Rolex watch, you will want to be on the lookout for imitations. You wouldn’t want to be caught dead wearing a fake. There are many small details that distinguish a genuine Rolex. Here’s how to tell the difference.

The Date

A genuine Rolex has a convex Cyclops above the date in order to magnify it by 2.5x. A fake may have a smaller magnification, although it’s possible a previous owner may have had the Cyclops removed.

The Serial Number

In order to see the serial number on a genuine Rolex, you must remove the band from the body of the watch. On the underneath side of 6 o’clock, you will see a deep engraving of the serial number. Imitations often have the number etched lightly. The model number will be underneath the 12 o’clock side, with the text ORIG ROLEX DESIGN engraved above it. You can do a Google search for the serial number to determine its authenticity.

The fake may have the same serial number as any number of other fakes. Counterfeiters are notorious for putting the same number on all their products. Or it may have the serial number of a different model of Rolex.

Newer Rolexes have scrambled serial numbers, so it is necessary to visit a jeweler to determine the date of the watch.

The Weight

Fake Rolex watches are considerably lighter than the real thing, because cheaper materials are used. Easy enough.

The Movement

Only Rolex-certified jewelers are supposed to access the movement, so you will not be able to test this yourself, nor would you want to mess with the delicate inner workings of a watch. Most Rolex movements are mechanical and self-winding, although a few were made of quartz or powered by battery. You will generally find the Rolex name engraved somewhere on the movement.

The Water Test

Dipping the watch into water for a few seconds should not harm a genuine Rolex. Water will leak into the dial of a fake. If you offer to do this, note the seller’s reaction.


All text, as well as every other detail of the genuine article, should be perfect. Counterfeiters are not so attentive to every detail, and you may well find discrepancies such as ink bleeding or blurred spots in the font or the letters.

The Caseback

If the caseback is transparent, allowing you to see the workings of the movement, it is likely to be a fake. Very few Rolexes were made that way, and if the article is genuine, the price will be high. Now Rolex casebacks are made of polished steel without decoration or engraving. You as the buyer may choose to have it engraved as you wish.

The Tick

Loud ticking is a sure sign of a fake, according to William May, a British jewelry expert. The Rolex has slight ticks, to be sure, but they are relatively smooth (8 ticks a second) and not that easy to detect.

The Hands

The second hand on a Rolex appears to move in a smooth arc. If it is jerky, you have a fake. Each Rolex design has a distinctive design for the hands. If you Google the model you are supposedly looking at, you will see whether it conforms to the genuine design.

Crown Etching

A tiny etching is placed on all Rolex watches manufactured after 2002. It is a crown etched at the 6 o’clock position. You may be able to see it clearly only with magnification.

The Crown of the Watch

Here we are referring to the part on the side of the watch that sets the time. A genuine Rolex watch crown consists of one piece for the crown and the stem and has the Rolex crown symbol etched onto it. The etching is very small, and you may need magnification to see it. Counterfeiters may not bother with this detail, or may even use two metal pieces glued together.

On some Rolex watches, you may see a “triplock” on the crown. The triplock is the mechanism which makes the watch waterproof. If you unscrew the crown, you can see a tiny o-ring which serves as a gasket. Some fakes have a similar-looking gasket (but won’t keep water out), so just be aware of that.

The Date

Rolex, as you are aware, is a precision timepiece. The date rolls over exactly at midnight. A replica can be off by as much as 15 minutes. If the watch you are looking at is a few minutes off one way or the other, it may just need some maintenance to bring it back to the precise movement it should have.

The Bracelet

The Rolex band, or bracelet, should lie flat without kinks or twists of any kind. If it has some age on it, the links may have stretched a bit, but they should still be flat. Also, be aware that although the watch itself may be genuine, the band may have been replaced due to wear.

The Dealer

Who is selling you the watch? Is it a reputable dealer? Is it a guy on the street? Is it an online merchant? This is important, because you need to trust the source. Almost all counterfeit Rolex watches are manufactured in Asia, and a reputable dealer would not risk their reputation by offering counterfeit watches.

If you want to buy a fake watch, you will find them in abundance. They will be pretty cheap, and may even look good enough to fool some of your lower class friends. But is that who you want to impress? Probably not. You are after a status symbol, so make sure you are buying a quality piece of jewelry that you can be proud of.