How To Spot A Fake Rolex

How To Spot A Fake Rolex

Doesn’t everyone dream of owning a Rolex one day? Ever since the luxury watchmaker was first established at the start of the 20th Century, it seems that society has had somewhat of an obsession with owning a Rolex. Is this surprising? Not really. These high-end Swiss watches really are something special; every single watch is made by hand, in a process that usually takes about a year from start to finish. As a result of the precision and care that goes into crafting Rolex timepieces, they are famous for their extensive lifespan, with people often claiming that a Rolex will ‘last forever’ if properly maintained. Unfortunately though, as with most luxury products, there’s a huge black market for fake Rolex watches. The majority of these fakes are cheap knock-offs that are fairly easy to spot, although there are exceptions. Even so, research suggests that a shocking 70% of Brits can’t tell the difference between a real and fake Rolex. These quick tips should help you to spot a fake Rolex.  

Serial Numbers

A real Rolex has its serial number either engraved into the case typically found on the six o’clock side, behind where the band connects to your watch’s body or behind the glass around the dial with newer models. This isn’t always the case with fakes. A genuine model number normally starts with a letter followed by numbers. This model number can also determine the production date which can be found with a quick Google search for ‘Rolex serial numbers’ and visiting a website that has a record of the serial to product dates.

Smooth Movements

As all Rolexes are self-winding and mechanical, one of the tell-tale signs of an authentic Rolex watch is that its second hand moves in a smooth motion. If you hold the watch up to your ear, you shouldn’t be able to hear the ‘tick-tock’ noise that most watches make either. There are some exceptions to this, such as Oysterquartz Rolexes from the ‘60s and ‘70s that were produced with quartz movements.

The Case Back

A common feature of genuine Rolex watches is a plain metal case back. If your case back is clear (i.e. you can see the inside mechanisms of the watch) or has any engraving on it then you should be suspicious. Saying that, Rolex has produced a few models that don’t follow this rule, such as the Calibre 1030, which boasts a see-through case back, or the Sea Dweller, which features engraving on the case back.


All Rolexes are produced with a magnifying lens that enlarges the date on the watch face (by 2.5 times, to be exact). You should also be able to feel a slight bump when you run your finger over the magnified part of your watch face, also known as “the Cyclops”. Keep in mind that some Rolex-owners do prefer to remove the Cyclops from their watch. Therefore, if you’re buying a pre-owned Rolex you should always look for other signs that it could be fake.


One of the features that Rolex watches are most famous for is their ruggedness in water. Every single Rolex is tested for water pressure within a secure lab, with some Rolex lines such as the Deepsea remaining totally waterproof up to 3,900 meters underwater. In a special Deepsea challenge with award-winning director James Cameron and National Geographic, Rolex produced an experimental watch that managed to descend almost 11,000 meters below water whilst still working as normal! If you start to see signs of water damage within your watch then it’s probably a fake.


Genuine Rolexes tend to be significantly heavier than fake ones. Try another quick Google search for your model and you should be able to find its exact weight. Weigh your own model and you should get a pretty good impression of whether your Rolex watch is genuine or not.


It’s always wise to look for minor inconsistencies on the watch too, for example poorly printed text or irregular spacing between the letters. As we highlighted earlier, the production process for a single Rolex takes around a year so the watches are produced to an exceptionally high standard. If you notice anything about your watch that looks cheap or tacky then chances are it’s not a genuine Rolex.

The Seller

Buying your Rolex from a reputable dealer is probably the best way to avoid purchasing a fake. If you find a ‘high-end’ Rolex at your local market for £100 then it doesn’t take a genius to work out it’s not authentic. But this can be more difficult to figure out when buying online. Take a proper look at the merchant’s ratings; try to find some detailed reviews that sound genuine rather than just quick one-liners. You could also do a Google search of the merchant’s brand name to see if there is anything online that suggests they shouldn’t be trusted.   Keep these points in mind when buying your next Rolex and you should have no trouble spotting a fake. If you’re still unsure about your watch’s authenticity then try finding your model on Rolex’s website; compare this to your watch and note any inconsistencies between the two. Pay special attention to the watch face, as this is where the majority of counterfeits fall behind.