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  • Robert Farago

Pssst! Wanna Buy a Rolex Real Cheap?

Hint: don't!

There are two types of fake Rolex: one you buy knowing it’s a fake and one you buy thinking it’s real. It’s hard to say which is more profitable for the counterfeiters.

Cheap fake Rolexes are a volume business, appealing to people who want to impress people who wouldn’t know a fake Rolex if it weighed less than a box of paper clips. Expensive fake Rolex provide criminal creators with a huge profit margin, appealing to people with money to burn.

Whatever the split, the number of fake Rolex out there, somewhere, is staggering. We’re talking millions. There’s no telling what the fake Rolex biz is worth, but it ain’t nothing. Nor is its impact on society.

Forbes reckons bad guys sell $1.7t to $4.5t worth of fake goods per year. That makes counterfeiting the world’s tenth largest economy — greater than Canada's total GDP.

The money generated by counterfeit Rollies helps fund the world’s largest and most despicable criminal gangs: cartels and terrorist groups being at the top of that list.

The same people who make counterfeit Rolex manufacture and distribute counterfeit “prescription” drugs, medical devices and airbags. They engage in all manner of heinous activities, including slave labor, human trafficking and straight-up terrorism.

The people behind fake Rolex are evil motherfuckers, but they’re no dummies. reports that high-end counterfeit watches are so good they’re showing up at high-end dealers. In droves.

One in ten of the luxury watches offered for sale to Watchfinder in the past year have been found to be fakes, according to the company’s CEO Arjen van de Vall. Around half of all those watches are knock off Rolexes.

Watchfinder is the UK’s largest seller of second-hand watches - by no means the online equivalent of a shady pawn shop.

We can surmise that most if not all of the owners of the fake Rolex sent to Watchfinder – five percent of the total – bought them “in good faith.” In other words, they got fucked.

To avoid the same fate (in the form of refunds and/or legal retribution), Watchfinder created a 60-step authentication process. Now more than ever, it’s getting plenty of action. Mssr. van de Vall:

In the old days, around 20 percent of watches would require further inspection to understand it if they were fake. Today, it is around eighty percent of watches that need this thorough testing and inspection to see if they are genuine or not.

Once upon a time, an expert could easily spot a fake Rolex. Yes, cheap, crap Rolex are still a thing. New on the scene: virtually undetectable “super clone” fakes. Like this:


Fakes are increasingly difficult to spot because they are being made in a similar way to the real thing, and sometimes with a mix of real and counterfeit parts.
Super-fake producers use the same equipment and tools as leading Swiss manufacturers and have highly trained watchmakers using the same techniques to assemble and finish the watches...

How do you, the consumer, make sure you get the real thing, guaranteeing that your money goes to a privately held company based in a country famous for money laundering? Buy new or used from a reputable dealer. If you can…

You may have heard about the Rolex drought. It’s still a thing. There’s no way in hell you can walk into an official Rolex dealer, proffer your plastic and walk out with a desirable model (e.g., the classic Submariner or Daytona).

Unless you know the dealer – as in line their pockets on a regular maybe even personal basis. Even then, it’s a waiting game. But you do end up with the real thing. Which is a good thing.

Alternatively, you can right-now buy a pre-owned Rolex from a reputable dealer. Supply and demand being what it is, a popular pre-owned Rolex costs more than a new one. ( is the best place to ascertain a fair price.)

I wonder if the fake Rolex tsunami will swamp the brand’s killer rep. Probably not. When it comes to mass market watches, Rolex sets the standard for quality and, let’s face it, snob appeal.

The company currently makes around a million watches a year, with plans to increase production. Same goes for manufacturers of “super clone” fake Rollies. Whatever the market will bear.

You have been warned.

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