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Is The Watch You Just Bought Real? Here’s 3 Ways to Know For Sure

Just bought a watch? Satisfy your skepticism by using these three methods to determine if your watch is 100% real or not.


Isaac Wingold

October 7, 2022


5 min read

When you’ve put in what seems like an endless amount of hard work (not to mention, money) to acquire the watch of your dreams, there’s nothing worse than suddenly doubting its authenticity upon arrival. Is that complication working as intended? Should the serial number be engraved there? To help ensure you’re making the smartest, safest purchase possible, we’ve put together three handy methods to help satisfy your skepticism and determine if your watch is 100% genuine or not. 

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Confirm Functionality and Assess Finishing

Inspect Engravings and Hallmarks

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Counterfeits can't match the mechanical sophistication of authentic watches featuring exciting complications.

Confirm Functionality and Assess Finishing 

It’s important to remember that counterfeiters obviously aren’t watchmakers, meaning they often can’t execute the sort of exciting complications that make genuine watches so sought after, and instead focus their efforts on replicating the appearance of a watch alone. With this in mind, you’ll want to test the functionality of all complications on a watch after purchasing, ensuring that everything does what it’s intended to, and that you’ve gotten the real deal. 

Similarly, counterfeiters can’t always replicate the extremely high grade of finishing found on genuine watches. Compare your watch to a confirmed genuine example, using either pictures or an IRL watch if possible. Looking closely, assess the quality of the brushed and polished finishes, along with the precision with which components have been machined to ensure everything is tip top and as you’d expect from a genuine luxury watch. 

Rolex's signature laser-etched crown, as seen on the brand's most modern offerings.

Inspect Engravings and Hallmarks

Most watches produced over the last century are finished with a specific series of engravings and hallmarks on their cases, indicating the reference number of the watch, its serial number, and the materials used in its production. For example, the most modern Rolex offerings feature reference numbers engraved between the top lugs, positioned below a line of text reading “ORIG. ROLEX DESIGN.” Atop their crystals, you’ll find a near microscopic Rolex logo etching, and beneath, you’ll find a unique serial number engraved on the “rehaut” or metal ring separating the dial and crystal. Finally, Rolex watches executed in precious metals will feature hallmarks on their folding clasps and the undersides of their lugs, indicating the metal of the case and bracelet.

If you’re trying to verify the authenticity of a watch, you’ll want to closely inspect all of these details, first ensuring that the reference number is correct and engraved in the correct position, along with precious metal hallmarks, if applicable. Having said that, counterfeits often execute these details with extreme accuracy, in which case,serial numbers can prove especially useful in determining if your watch is real, as a legitimate serial number will be unique and specific to your watch, and recognized by the original manufacturer to confirm authenticity. 

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Buy Your Watch Through Bezel

One of the best ways to avoid getting duped and unfortunately paying for what’s ultimately a fake watch is to do what’s known as “buying the seller.” Do they seem credible? Have you researched them? Do you know enough about them to confidently hand over your hard earned dollars? If you can’t answer yes to all of these questions, your best bet is going to be to hold off on forking over funds, and find the watch elsewhere from a seller inspiring a bit more confidence. 

When buying through Bezel, you can shop for thousands of collectible luxury watches with full confidence, knowing that all watches on the platform ship first to our team of in-house watch experts to be thoroughly inspected prior to fully transacting the sale, and delivering the watch. How do we authenticate a watch? We use a detailed series of criteria developed over years of hands-on experience working at the industry’s top auction houses, so even the most accurate of fake watches can’t pass our series of horological tests.


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