Although the luxe watch industry has been going through a mini-crisis of late, with prices on major brands such as Rolex and Patek Philippe seeing a 25-35 percent drop on the secondary market, there’s still no shortage of people looking to get something stellar on their wrist. Just, perhaps, a shortage of cash. Which means prime time for fake watch scammers to make their move.
While the adage "if it feels too good to be true it probably is" should always be followed when considering a significant watch purchase, Esquire Middle East has mined its collective watch knowledge to provide you with some advice. What you need to know is as follows.
If you know the brand you’re after, research the heck out of it online. Get acquainted with the model you like and look at images and videos from all angles. Check official retail prices, and even go to an official dealer and handle the watch for reference.
The best way to avoid being ripped off is to go official (you can find authorised dealers on a brand’s website). Failing that, a trusted dealer or reseller with a good reputation should reduce risk. If someone is trying to sell way below the usual price—for whatever reason—then proceed with extreme caution.
Hold it up to your ear and listen for ticking. All of those tiny moving parts are designed to be continuous and smooth, unlike the once-per-second ticks that accompany a quartz. Observe also if the second hand sweeps around the numerals or if it pauses abruptly with each tick. Don’t be afraid to bring out a magnifying glass to get a closer look and compare it to photos of the real deal—if the letters look off, the logo is not aligned, there are any misspellings, or there are unnecessary pusher buttons on a watch that is not a chronograph, walk away.
If possible it’s ideal to have the watch examined by an appraiser before making any purchase. Better still if it comes with the necessary paperwork and documentation, such as a certificate of authenticity, the original box with a matching serial number, and so on. Trust your gut, but as said at the start, if a deal sounds way too good to be true, it probably is.