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 Yacht-Master II should have the following.
- When you set the time and rotate the winding stem clockwise the hands should also rotate clockwise. This should be the case for Rolex watches in general. If the hands rotate counter clockwise you have a fake Rolex movement.
- Hand stacking. The hands on an authentic Rolex Yacht-Master II will be in the following order from the dial upward (bottom to top).
A) Red colored 10-minute count-down hand (has a triangle at the tip)
B) Hour hand
C) Minute hand
D) Red colored second hand
- Some fakes alter a non-Yacht-Master II 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 and the bezel as described in #4 below. Typically, a bezel operates independently from the internal mechanism; however, the Ring Command bezel in the Yacht-Master II regatta chronograph operates in conjunction with it. As a mechanical component linked to the movement, the bezel literally acts as the key to the programmable countdown, allowing it to be set and synchronized to the sequence of race start times. It is therefore important to verify that this function of the watch operates as it is intended.
- Verification of movement operation. Perform these operations in the flowing order. 1) Unscrew the winding stem. 2) Push in the lower button at the 4 o’clock position. 3) Rotate the bezel ¼ turn counter-clockwise. 4) Rotate the winding stem to set the red arrow hand to 10 minutes. When you turn the winding stem clockwise the red arrow hand should move counter-clockwise. Continue winding after this to verify the arrow hand will jump back to the 0 minute mark indicator. 5) Turn the bezel back ¼ turn clockwise. 6) Screw in the stem. 7) Let the red seconds hand move anywhere between 1 and 29 seconds and depress the start/stop button at the 2 o’clock position. The 10-minute time indicator (hand with triangle tip) should automatically reset itself backward to the nearest minute and the seconds hand to zero. Now let the red second hand move anywhere between 30 and 59 seconds and depress the start/stop button. The 10-minute time indicator should automatically reset itself forward to the nearest minute and the seconds hand to zero. If the watch does not operate in this manner you have a fake Yacht-Master II movement.
- When you pull out the winding stem the seconds hand should stop moving.
- The Yacht-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.
- 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.
- At the 6 o’clock position on the underneath side of the crystal there is a Rolex crown symbol etched into it. This micro-etching began in 2002. This will be almost impossible to see with the naked eye. In an authentic Yacht-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 Yacht-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.
- The hour markers, minute and hour 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 Yacht-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.
- On the back of the case the protective plastic cover on the Yacht-Master II 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 continue to use it.
- Finally, check out the caseback. Rolex doesn’t make a clear caseback that enables you to see the movement so if you turn the 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. An authentic Rolex has no engraving on the back.
- An authentic Yacht-Master II with a stainless steel bracelet, with no links having been removed, will weigh 180 grams.
- A high-end fake may meet the above requirements except for numbers 4, 7 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. The Yacht-Master II is equipped with a 4161 caliber, self-winding mechanical regatta chronograph movement entirely developed and manufactured by Rolex. The result of over 35,000 hours of development, the Yacht-Master II introduces a new regatta countdown with a unique, patented mechanical memory created by Rolex. A number of the 360 components in the 4161 movement are so tiny or complex that they can only be made by new, cutting-edge technology. Like all Rolex Perpetual movements, the 4161 is a certified Swiss chronometer, a designation reserved for high-precision watches that have successfully passed the Swiss Official Chronometer testing Institute (COSC) tests. Its architecture, in common with all Oyster watch movements, makes it singularly reliable.
Craig Duling has gathered the following data. The Rolex Yacht-Master II is a sport watch made by Rolex, unveiled in 2007 and first introduced in March 2010 with the models 116688 (Yellow Gold) and 116689 (White Gold). One year later, in 2011, Rolex introduced model 116681 which was made from steel and Everose gold. At Baselworld 2013, the watch was available for the first time in 904L steel, model 116680, fitted with a Cerachrom bezel insert in blue ceramic. Originally the Yacht-Master II used Rolex’s 4160 movement but with the introduction of model 116680 in 2013, the movement was updated to the 4161 movement specifically designed for the Yacht-Master II. All Yacht-Master II watches have a case size of 44mm.
The Rolex 4161 movement is a chronograph movement with the complication of a programmable timer that counts down ten minutes. The countdown mechanism was primarily designed for regattas where the starting sequence can last up to 10 minutes. The movement took 35,000 hours (nearly 4 years) to create and is made up from 360 parts. The movement also has a 72-hour power reserve for when the watch is inactive.
The countdown mechanism is constructed using a column wheel that extends through the main plate and a vertical clutch. The mechanism makes it possible for the wearer to program in advance of and official countdown time and then start the timer once the countdown has begun and the mechanism can be programmed to count down 0 to 10 minutes. The countdown feature can be locked and unlocked by twisting the bezel through 90 degrees. The Yacht-Master II was one of the first watches in the world to have a bezel that worked in conjunction with the movement. If the wearer has started the countdown either too early or too late then the countdown can be synchronized. By pressing the start/stop button, located at the 2 o’clock position, and then pressing the reset button, located at the 4 o’clock position, the minute countdown hand re-positions itself to the nearest minute while the seconds countdown hand returns to zero.
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 the 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 (Yacht-Master II with stainless steel bracelet) 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 avoid being tricked into buying a fake luxury watch:
- 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 these sites, 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.