In this primer on fake watches, we’re going to discuss 15 reasons why you should NEVER buy a counterfeit watch.
Okay, let’s face it. Sometimes the thought of spending thousands of dollars on a luxury watch can seem a little foolish. Today, counterfeit watches are big business and many of them look virtually identical to the real thing. In fact, without opening the case, some experts have been routinely fooled into believing a fake watch was real. So is there anything wrong with buying a replica watch? We think so, and here are fifteen reasons why.
1. It’s Illegal
This alone should be reason enough to not buy a counterfeit watch — it’s illegal, without exception. However, that clearly isn’t enough to deter a multi-million dollar industry of fake producers and the people who buy their watches.
Many people argue that if you’re only buying them and not selling them, you’re not really breaking the law. Unfortunately for you, the police, the watch community and the public will disagree with you. Not only does it impact the economy, but it impacts everyone who works in the industry. You can be charged criminally with selling a counterfeit watch and you can be charged for buying one in many regions around the world. True gentlemen don’t break the law or support those who do.
2. You Will Get Caught
The average person may not be able to tell that your watch is fake, but anyone who is a collector or an expert will be able to. Imagine how it will look if you’re outed in front of a client, colleague or your boss, especially if they’ve admired your watch. The odds are that at some point you will meet someone who quickly realizes there is an issue with your watch, and then you will have to answer for it.
3. It Could Be Seized
You’re very lucky if the only penance you pay for wearing a fake watch is to be embarrassed by the person who discovers it. If your fake watch is discovered by custom agents, there might be more serious consequences. At the very least, the watch will be confiscated or seized, which is a waste of money in addition to being a serious legal risk. In some countries, it’s a crime to simply be in possession of fake goods, which may result in fines or even prison time.
4. It Can Affect The Innocent Buyer
Experts agree that 15-30% of all internet searches for luxury watches are people looking for fakes they can pass off as the real thing. The higher the demand for counterfeit watches, the more inclined con artists are to make and sell them. Even though you may be looking for something counterfeit, it doesn’t mean the next guy is. Most sellers of counterfeit watches aren’t honest enough to mention they are fakes and so it’s a regular occurrence for men seeking the real thing to get burned by purchasing a fake watch online or from a gray market seller who is looking for an easy payday. The fake watch industry costs the Swiss watch industry billions of dollars each year. Unfortunately, a great deal of that money comes from unwitting buyers who don’t realize they’re spending their hard earned money on a fake watch. Furthermore, if you dream of buying a luxury watch yourself one day, it could end up being you who gets duped.
5. Fake Watches Are For Fake People
That’s a pretty bold statement, but it didn’t originate with us. In fact, it’s a slogan that has been used in many ad campaigns by a consortium of Swiss watch companies that make up the Fondation de la Haute Horlogerie. Is there any truth to it? Certainly.
There are traditionally three types of buyers who want the name of a luxury watch manufacturer on their wrist. One is the collector who values the artistry and mechanics that make up a fine timepiece. This individual understands and respects their value and appreciates the craftsmanship. The second type of person buys a luxury watch purely for the statement it makes about their lifestyle. The third type of person is the same in that they want to impress others, but they can’t afford the real thing.
Even though the second kind of watch buyer may not be tasteful or likable, they still made a legitimate purchase. You’ll still be better off buying a watch that you can afford than trying to be someone you’re not, which in the case of watch buyer type #2, may be a good thing.
It is not gentlemanly behavior to lie to those you interact with, nor is it gentlemanly to break the law.
6. It’s Obvious
That leads us to the next reason. If you are the third type of watch buyer listed above, don’t think you’ve fooled anyone into believing your watch is real. Even though a fake watch can look identical to a real one, there may be plenty of other obvious indications that a watch is fake that have nothing to do with the timepiece. If it seems implausible that you would own an expensive watch, people may assume it’s a fake and judge you for it. If you’re wearing the same Submariner that your boss, 20 years your senior, is wearing, no one will think your boss is the one wearing the fake watch.
7. You Could Lose Your Reputation
The average replica watch can be spotted as a fake by anyone who has ever owned or seen a watch from that brand. Even the better quality fakes can be sniffed out 20-feet away by an experienced collector or expert. As soon as someone realizes your watch is fake, they’ll begin to wonder what else is fake. Your reputation will be shot in seconds, even if the only fake thing was the watch, and you may not even know it. Believe it or not but people have lost jobs and clients simply for wearing a replica watch.
8. It Will Not Last
Replica watches generally have very short lifespans. They tend to be made of inferior materials, regardless of what you spent. Can you really trust the seller that their $500 version is better quality than the $50 version? They’re selling you on something that isn’t real. Expect that if you are buying a fake watch, it will not last long.
Regardless of what you may have heard, even the most expensive replicas are crap. The fake watch industry has one single purpose: to make as much money as possible. This means that the manufacturer has to get paid, the seller has to get paid and expenses like advertising and website management need to be paid. Like any criminal, they will do whatever they can to get the biggest return possible. They are con artists. They’re selling you a fake product. Why would you trust them when they claim it’s the best fake on the market? In the end, even if they are charging a small fortune for it, they are still using the least expensive materials possible and the poorest craftsmanship they can find.
9. No One Is Impressed by a Fake
Remember the old Shania Twain song “That Don’t Impress Me Much”? Neither will that fake watch. Sure some people will outright tell people when their watch is a replica, but most don’t. What’s the point in buying a replica if you’re going to tell everyone it’s fake? Regardless of whether you tell them or not, no one has ever been impressed by a fake watch or the “deal” you got on it. You’ll either look like a gullible chump or a cheapskate.
10. You Wasted Your Money
Fake watches don’t retain any value. You may have spent $10 or you may have spent $300, but either way, it’s worth nothing after you buy it. A Walmart-brand watch bought on sale will be more valuable than any fake watch, regardless of how much you spent on it.
While traveling in the Far East, it can be easy to say “hmm, I’ll just spend $20 at this stand, even though it’s fake.” Let’s face it, there are quite literally, dozens of stands in the markets selling fake watches. Not just in the Far East, but even in American flea markets. The problem is that many of the people who have bought them overseas on a whim because it was cheap and looked neat, regretted it almost immediately when it didn’t even make the flight home before it was broken. It may have only been $20, but you could have lit that $20 bill on fire and had the same results. If you are tempted, just give that money to a charity, buy a homeless person a sandwich or get your kid a teddy bear. It will probably last longer than the watch and it will certainly have a more meaningful impact.
11. It Will Not Keep Accurate Time
There are some replicas that come with quartz movements and may actually keep time longer than the case stays intact. However, just like the exterior of the replica Rolex is fake, so is the mechanism powering it. In the vast majority of cases, you’re getting a mass-produced movement made in China that will begin to fall short rather quickly.
12. Replica Watches Aren’t Water Resistant
A real Rolex Submariner can be worn for diving but a replica shouldn’t even hit the showers with you. Why? Because it likely isn’t water resistant at all. So if you do happen to hit the gym and your friends see you removing it to shower, you’ll have a few questions to answer when they wonder why on earth you’d take off your Rolex.
13. The Bracelet Is Worse Than The Watch
In many cases, the bracelet is far worse than the actual watch. For the most part, replica watches also replicate the bracelets. Unfortunately, they break very easily. I remember seeing a gentleman raving about his Rolex at a restaurant a number of years ago. As he was showing the manager of the restaurant this gleaming new Rolex, the bracelet literally fell apart and he was left clutching the case which proceeded to also fall and smash into a number of pieces on the floor. Let’s just say he quickly got up and left the establishment. The tables around his had a hearty laugh at his expense with many people claiming they knew it was a fake watch as soon as he began to show it off.
The bracelet is the weakest link in the chain, so to speak, and a cheap replica will age badly, making it more likely that you will be subjected to reasons #1-12.
14. It Damages the Entire Industry
People buy fake watches to wear brands that represent quality, success, luxury and craftsmanship. It’s understandable to want to be associated with those characteristics, but you won’t align yourself to them if you wear a fake watch. It undermines the whole industry by diluting and redirecting the equity of the watch brands into counterfeit goods. It flouts the long history, the centuries of skill and innovation, and the intellectual property of an industry that the counterfeiters — not the manufacturers — reap the rewards of. They are slowly starving the golden goose, so don’t make it worse by giving counterfeiters your money.
15. Finally, You Will Regret It
Regardless of how you justified the purchase, after awhile you will begin to develop an inferiority complex; especially if you are lying to people around you and claiming the watch is real. You will worry that you’ll be caught. You will feel remorse for lying and you will begin to notice just how fake the watch looks. If you are a younger gent, you may feel good about it now, but in ten years you’ll find that this is one of those things you’ll look back on and regret, thinking to yourself “What on earth was I thinking? How did I possibly think that looked good?” A fake watch is like a mullet in the 1980s. It seemed good at the time; but nobody looks good wearing it.
How do you feel about counterfeit watches? Let’s make it a discussion: have you ever bought a fake watch or come across one?