Let me begin by jumping right in and giving you a list of what to look for since this is why you chose to read this article. At the end of this list please take time to read the article because it will help put the list in perspective.
An authentic Rolex GMT Master II should have the following.
- Hand stacking. The hands on an authentic Rolex GMT – Master II will be in the following order from the dial upward (bottom to top).
A) hour hand
B) GMT hand (green colored hand)
C) minute hand
D) second hand
- Some fakes alter a non-GMT Rolex movement so the hand stack is correct but in doing so it changes the operation of the watch so one needs to verify the operation of the movement as described in #3 below.
- Verification of movement operation. A) Pull the winding stem out to the first position. This should only operate the hour hand and the hour hand should move in both directions (clockwise & counter-clockwise). B) The date should only be able to change by rotating the hour hand past midnight, and the date should change exactly at midnight. C) Pull the winding stem all the way out to the second position and the second hand should stop moving and you should also be able to move the minute and GMT hands. If any of the above operates differently you have a fake GMT Rolex movement.
- Finally, check out the caseback. Rolex doesn’t make a clear caseback that enables you to see the movement so if you turn a watch over and you have a clear window in which to observe the movement, you know it is a fake. Another caseback trick is that many fakes engrave the Rolex name and crown logo on the caseback. A true Rolex has no engraving on the back.
- The Rehaut is the name for the inner bezel. This is a french word for flange. The inner bezel is the ring that separates the dial from the crystal. If one carefully examines, with a loop, the word Rolex which is laser etched into the Rehaut the letters will be extremely smooth and sharp. In a fake, the laser technology is too expensive to use and the letter engraving will appear to look slightly rough.
- You should not be able to hear the watch tick. If you have excellent hearing you may be able to hear a mild ticking sound.
- At the 6 o’clock position on the underneath side of the crystal there is a Rolex crown symbol laser etched into it. This micro-etching began in 2002. This will be almost impossible to see with the naked eye. In an authentic GMT Master II you will need a magnifying glass to see it and even then one will need to angle the watch to just the right position. In a fake GMT Master II you will easily be able to see it because the “knock-off” manufacturers don’t want you to miss it. If it is easy to spot, you have a fake.
- Look at the Cyclops magnifying lens that envelops the date at the three o’clock position. The true Rolex magnifies at two and a half times and has a definitive convex shape to it.
- The hour markers and hands, ALL should illuminate in the same teal color in the dark. Hold your watch under a light (flashlight, table lamp, etc.) for a few seconds and then enter a closet and close the door and see if this is the case. Many fakes use the cheapest hands they can buy and these hands can illuminate in many different colors.
- On the GMT Master II there should be 3 dots below the crown symbol on the winding stem.
- The edges of the bracelet links should be smooth and have no sharp edges. And the center link should be highly polished.
- On the back of the case the protective plastic cover should be clear and not green. This is assuming of course that the protective cover has not been removed. Most fake manufacturers don’t realize that Rolex did away with the green colored cover and some continue to use it.
- Like all Rolexes, the GMT Master II has a sapphire crystal. An easy way to determine if the crystal is sapphire is to place 1-drop of water in the center of the crystal and see if the drop remains in place and keeps its shape. If it does, it is sapphire. If the water drop spreads out flat and runs off the crystal it is not sapphire. All Rolex watches have a sapphire crystal.
- An authentic GMT Master II with a stainless steel bracelet, with no links having been removed, will weigh 152 grams.
- At the number 6 on the bezel the red and black colors should meet exactly in the center of the 6. And at the number 18 on the bezel the red and black colors should meet just at the very beginning of the number 8.
- A high-end fake may meet the above requirements except for number 5 and 11 so you still need to be very careful.
- There are many more things I could mention but I don’t want the counterfeiters to learn too much good information. Remember that there are more fake luxury watches produced each year than authentic ones. This is difficult to imagine but it is true because this is a BILLION dollar a year industry.
Craig Duling understands that collecting, or buying, a luxury wristwatch for yourself can be an expensive and challenging proposition. Many of the top luxury brands can cost thousands or tens of thousands of dollars so it is important to be able to tell the authentic luxury brands from the many fakes that are on the market. Some of the top luxury brands that are often counterfeited are Rolex, Patek Philippe, IWC, Jager-LeCoultre, Vacheron & Constantin, Piaget, and Audemars Piguet.
Research and reliability are the keys…
First of all, you need to decide which luxury brand you may want to buy. If you don’t know what a real luxury brand looks like, how will you ever be able to detect a fake one? One of the best ways to familiarize yourself with the watch you want is to visit a jewelry store that carries the brand you want to purchase and examine the watch. You will not know what to examine unless you know what to look for. The safest way to buy your new luxury watch is to go to a reputable jeweler who is authorized to represent that brand or a watch merchant. For those trying to look for a deal, then, perhaps, buying a luxury wristwatch could be problematic in that you may end up with a fake. Too many venture out to Craigslist and eBay only to get seriously burned by fake products. In the end, it is the reputation of the seller that comes into play and can be your most reliable source. It may cost you, but in the end you can rest assured that you, in all likelihood, purchased an original and not a fake.
History and paperwork are invaluable…
The history of a watch, especially if it antique or vintage, can be invaluable in determining if the watch is real or fake. If you are dealing with a private dealer or collector, they will likely know where the piece had originated. If it was from an estate sale, the legitimate dealer or collector should have a definite paper trail. You may not end up with a luxury wrist watch that comes with authentication but it is always better if you do. Having the certificate, the matching serial numbers and the matching boxes can go a long way toward securing peace of mind. However, high-end fakes reproduce such paperwork and box.
How to determine if your Rolex is genuine…
When trying to determine the authenticity of a Rolex watch, Craig Duling feels it is important to understand how Rolex actually makes its watches:
- Rolex uses the highest grade of stainless steel – 904L available and it is extremely hard to machine but they use it because the quality really shows.
- Rolex has its own research and development laboratories. They have their own scientists and their lab facilities are dedicated to ensuring that Rolex watches are among the finest in the world.
- Most people believe that Rolex watches are made through a machine assembly process. This is not so. Each watch is hand tested and assembled from the machined parts that are so precise that they are almost impossible to reproduce.
- Rolex has its own foundry in its production facility that produces gold for their watches. Their completed watches, as well as their gold supply, are in a state of the art vault deep underground.
- Each Oyster cased Rolex is tested in water tanks to be water resistant up to 300 meters. Also, all of the diamonds and jewels are hand picked from the best suppliers and are applied by hand into the watches.
- Not only are all of the materials for a Rolex made in-house, but it actually takes almost one year to make a single Rolex watch.
Recognizing the fake Rolex can be tricky…
A Rolex watch is one of the most sought after watches in the world. Because of this, the market in counterfeit Rolexes is tremendous. Fakes can cost as little as $200 and the quality of the counterfeits has become increasingly better over the last decade. The quality has become so good that even many dealers and collectors are getting fooled. Here are some additional tips on how to spot the bogus ones:
- The safest way, perhaps, is to actually know the dealer or seller you intend to deal with. At least you must be aware of their reputation. What to especially look for with a seller or a dealer is a guarantee of authenticity.
- Try and avoid Craigslist and eBay at all costs. While there are reputable dealers on eBay, neither site guarantees anything and neither takes responsibility if someone is defrauded.
- Is the watch you’re looking to buy waterproof? Did you test it? Rolexes are waterproof and most counterfeiters don’t take the time to do so with their bogus replicas.