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The Truth About Replica Watches

The Truth About Replica Watches Comment Now Follow Comments Following Comments Unfollow Comments

Relógios Omega

falso 15-30% of internet searches on watches involve people looking for replicas. According to the Swiss watch industry, the replica watch market costs them billions of dollars each year, and efforts are made to confiscate fake watches and destroy them in spectacular ‘demonstrative’ ways. One of my favorite examples was from  2010 when about 7,000 replica Rolex watches were smooshed with a steamroller in front of press cameras as the culprit was sent to jail for six months. Most counterfeit goods aren’t given this treatment, and in reality this theatrical performance was done at the behest of concerned watch makers working in tandem with customs officials. How big of a problem are replica watches and are they actually a substitute for the real thing?

Replica Omega mens Relógios The Watch Industry’s Sentiments

Réplica relógios Omega A few years ago a consortium of high-end Swiss watch brands known as the Fondation de la Haute Horlogerie (FHH) began a publicity campaign with the message that “ Fake Watches Are For Fake People. ” I don’t think that the message truly resonated with an English speaking audience, but it showed a serious effort on their behalf to pressure people into buying the real thing. I was at a dinner a few years ago where speaking before a large audience, a famous Swiss watch brand’s CEO measured the group’s annual success by indicating a large amount replica watches with their name on them having been seized at the Swiss border. Apparently the more fakes made, the more popular one’s brand is. It was a telling sign of a lighthearted approach to the issue. Why wasn’t he more concerned?


falso How Big Is The Problem?

Working closely with customs officials in major markets, the luxury industry does play a large part in the successful seizure of fake goods. Though, very many still make it through to market. It is just too difficult to catch them all. As the watch industry pours more money into marketing their goods all over the world, awareness of their products increase and thus demand. Having said that, by nature, luxury goods are just that and can be priced outside of what most people can afford.

The replica watch industry is a natural tangent of a market for items that are outside of the realm of affordability for most people. It has been that way for literally thousands of years as currency was among the first types of things that were faked. Fake watches exist to satisfy the desires of people who cannot afford “the real thing” but want to portray the same status symbols as those who can.

Walk down specific streets in major cities such as New York, Hong Kong, and Tokyo to find known “fake districts” where everything from replica sunglasses to timepieces are peddled to consumers looking to find them. Many people seem to be worried that they will somehow receive a fake watch when buying from a legitimate store or retailer. The odds of this are very slim. Fake watches are found in places where you expect to find a fake watch. Replica watches sold through more legitimate streams are relatively rare. If you are buying a watch via a kiosk on the street for $200, then you expect it to be fake. If you buy a watch from a respectable looking retailer for an amount within a few hundred dollars of retail, then it is real.

The Gray Market

People sometimes misunderstand the “gray market” to involve fake watches. This is wrong. Gray market watches are authentic watches sold outside of an authorized dealer. They can be used watches, or watches sold from an authorized dealer to a different dealer. Gray market watches may not always be in “brand new condition” (though most are), and you won’t get a factory warranty, but they aren’t fake. The reason it is called the gray market is because it sits between the white (authorized) market and the black (fake) market. Like I said, in virtually all instances, gray market retailers are not involved with the purchase or selling of counterfeit watches.



Why Are Fake Watches Illegal?

It is true that many people don’t quite know why fake watches are illegal, or that they are illegal. The problem with the FHH’s campaign of “Fake Watches Are For Fake People” is that the message totally skews what is wrong with fake watches. Fake watches are a poor purchase decision because they are unlawful and because they are usually crap.

Watch makers surprisingly don’t have copyright protection on the design of their watches. I am not going to get into a long intellectual property discussion, but the issue is that while designs are something you can protect, things that are “functional” need to be protected under patent law, not copyright. Patents filed long ago have since expired, or there is so much copying going on between brands, that nothing is “original” any longer. What brands can protect however is their name and logo. Those fall under trademark protection and cannot be copied legally. So what fakes are actually doing is illegally copying a name and logo, as well as other trademarked elements that are designed to tell people who made the watch.

The number of elements on any given watch that can be copied legally is surprisingly numerous. This is why even legitimate brands end up “flattering” each other by borrowing design elements all the time. Replica Versus Homage

There is a legal version of a replica watch and it is called an “homage.” A number of small internet communities and forums are dedicated to producing, reviewing, and discussing homage watches. These are timepieces produced to be as similar as possible to often historic watches, but the protected names and logos are not reproduced. Some collectors love these, while others have ethical problems with them as they can feel too close to a fake. However, they are perfectly legal. Common brands that have “homages” produced in their honor are Rolex and Panerai, and vintage dive, military, and aviation watches are those which are most commonly ‘homaged.’ The good thing about homage watches is that they are usually produced with a much higher quality than fakes. This is because they aren’t trying to be a low-cost alternative to the real thing, they are trying to be a modern version of something too difficult or no longer possible to get.

How Common Are Fakes?

Many consumers not familiar with watches often fear that they will end up purchasing a replica watch without knowing it. How likely are you to get a fake watch when you aren’t looking for one specifically? Well first of all there are numerous places online that sell fake watches. Most of these sites are from Asia (where fake watches are made) and are pretty clear about the fact that they sell replica watches. The fact is that most people who sell fakes – no matter how shady they may appear – are very open with the fact that their goods are fake. Why? Because they are catering to people looking for fakes.

Fake watches are not difficult to find if you are looking for them. More and more search engines are being pressured to remove or reduce the relevancy of websites that offer fake watches in favor of legitimate retailers. I’ve also personally seen a welcome reduction in the amount of spam e-mail I’ve received trying sell me fake watches (which again were clearly labeled as such). The larger concern again is not the sheer availability of fakes, but rather the unknowing consumer accidentally buying one.

eBay in the past was littered with fake watches, but that is no longer the case. There are probably fake watches masquerading as the real thing in eBay’s auction listings from time to time, but they are less common than they used to be. Above I mentioned that in virtually all instances you won’t find fake watches sold via legitimate watch retailers. Pretty much the only chance you have of accidentally buying a fake watch these days is via a transaction with some private seller who claim “not to know whether a watch is real or not.” That usually means it is fake. So yes, caveat emptor is still a good policy, but fakes are mostly on the wrists of people who know they are wearing fakes.


How Good Are Fake Watches?

For me the most important issue in this entire article is a discussion of whether or not fakes are a good alternative to the real thing (minus the legal implications of course). The answer is almost universal that they are an extremely poor alternative to the real thing. Let’s say you really want a $200,000 Ferrari but can’t afford it. Fair enough, most people can’t. You want it for the style, the performance, and that sweet engine growl. You find a guy who for $20,000 offers to sell you a “replica Ferrari just as good as the real thing.” Now you are intrigued. While $20,000 isn’t cheap, it feels like a small price to pay to show everyone you have a Ferrari and to get a car that drives like one.

You get your ‘Fauxrrari’ and the first thing you notice is that it has a tiny engine which emits black smoke and stalls all the time. Next you find that the paint begins to wear off a week after you get it. Then you begin to notice how much of the interior and exterior is really poor quality, in fact much worse than a typical $20,000 car. Pretty soon you realize that your fake car is terrible, and whatever enjoyment it offered you in the first few hours of ownership, it has made up for in being a total piece of garbage. That is pretty much what most fake watch ownership is like. The bottom line is that aren’t nearly as good as the real thing from a quality standpoint.

I’ve visited a lot of watch factories and been fortunate to handle thousands and thousands of watches as a watch writer. I have yet to see a fake that fools me, and if there is one out there, then merely looking at the movement inside of it would inform me in an instant that it is fake. In fact, many fake watches aren’t even analogs of real watches that are made by the brands they are copying. Replica watch makers often take major brand names such a Rolex, Breitling, Patek Philippe, and Cartier, and stick them on horrid Frankenstein watches that are embarrassingly bad. Those are truly the worst of them.


As high as “real” watch prices are, there is a quality that comes with them in terms of the metal, the movements, dials, straps, and the bracelets that simply cannot be matched via cheap alternatives. Luxury watches cost a lot to make, that is a simple market fact.

I would go so far as to say that fake watches totally suck. Most are priced from about $100 – $1,000 and are of far lower quality than watches who natively cost $100 – $1,000. They are produced in rough conditions in Asia using machinery that the normal watch industry stopped using long ago. In fact, some replica watches are produced right next to inexpensive brands that you wouldn’t want anyway. Until there is someone even close to as good as Rolex making fake watches, I will go with a real Rolex.

When You Just Can’t Afford What You Want

If after knowing that fake watches are illegal, poor quality, and make you look foolish… you still want one then go ahead. You are probably doing it in an effort to wear a status symbol that will appear authentic to uneducated people of a low status. And isn’t that ironically the opposite of what a status symbol is supposed to do? Most people are better off simply purchasing the best timepiece they can afford, which is going to offer a dramatically better ownership experience than some cheap fake that will break.

Ariel Adams publishes the watch review site aBlogtoWatch .

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