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As with anything, when you buy a watch you want to make sure you get what you are paying for. With the increasing ingenuity of counterfeit manufacturers, it is all too easy to be taken in by a counterfeit. To help protect you against these fake watches, which can and are seized by police, it’s important to know what you’re looking for. Here are some handy tips to prevent yourself from being caught out.

First of all, although Rolexes are the most commonly counterfeited watch brand, they aren’t the only one. It might sound obvious when it’s pointed out, but it’s all too easy to believe that a watch is genuine because it isn’t a ‘well-known’ brand. Counterfeiters know what they are doing and there are counterfeits of all the major luxury watch brands being sold all the time. Nor are they only limited to the most expensive. If a £100 Casio counterfeit can be made at half or a third of the price by sacrificing quality, counterfeiters will certainly do it.

Certificates of authenticity do not guarantee that this is the case. It is all too easy now to print out a professional looking certificate and make up a serial number. Boxes, instruction manuals and even bags can all be replicated, sometimes looking very similar to the real thing. If you are in any doubt, ask to see the watch and box in person, and to get the details verified by the watch company itself. If it is a genuine watch, this shouldn’t be a problem for the seller.

Check the fine details. Do your research before buying the watch, and know what security features the model was fitted with. Many counterfeit Rolexes, for example, replicate the laser etched crown at 6 o’clock. But this feature wasn’t added until 2002, so if the model you are buying dates before this, it won’t (and shouldn’t) have it. The real laser crown should be hard to see even with a magnifying glass. Counterfeits usually stand out too much.

Other giveaways are the dials and faces. Make sure that the dial has the correct numerals, if any, on it, and that date windows are in the correct place. If is has a Cyclops window, the date should fill this, and be centralised. Check that the hands are the correct style, and that the caseback is correct. If it is a sapphire back, be certain that this is a genuine feature. Rolexes are often counterfeited with a clear back, but the company has never put a watch like this into production. Check too that the face is made of the correct material. Most luxury watches have a sapphire crystal face, as this scratches less easily.

The materials used in a watch should speak for themselves. If it is stainless steel or titanium, the watch should have weight to it. Many counterfeits are too light, instead being constructed from aluminium. Ask to check the movement. If the watch feels light it may have a quartz mechanism instead of a mechanical. But bear in mind that some genuine watches are quartz too.

And finally, if you are in any doubt, DON’T BUY IT. If the offer sounds ‘too good to be true’, it almost certainly will be, and you’ll be left to regret it later.

Watchfinder.co.uk specialise in selling new and pre-owned watches of exceptional quality, from brands such as Rolex, Omega, Cartier, Tag Heuer, Breitling, IWC, Raymond Weil, Jaeger LeCoultre, Chanel, TW Steel, Longines, Panerai and many others. For more information, please visit http://www.watchfinder.co.uk.

Jemma Hill is an author with a passion for both mechanical and quartz luxury watches.

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