For luxury-watch connoisseurs and casual enthusiasts alike, perhaps no brand of watch holds the same caliber of recognition as Rolex. For over a century, the brand has dominated the luxury watch market—and for good reason. Rolex is considered to be among the most innovative, design-driven, and celebrity-approved watch companies around.
Like any prized possession with a considerable price tag, Rolex watches are also among the most commonly faked. Whether you’re shopping for a special gift or your own new statement piece, getting a good deal can be very tempting, but knowing how to tell if a Rolex is real is essential.
Read on to learn how to tell if a Rolex is real with four simple methods.
Check the Documentation
While it may sound obvious, consulting the documents that accompany the watch is an important way to tell if a Rolex is real. Ideally, an authentic Rolex should be accompanied by a signed certificate of authenticity and a full warranty. This is true even if you’re purchasing a Rolex through a secondary or independent retailer. Of course, original documentation can often be harder to come by if you’re purchasing a vintage piece, but a watch without any accompanying documents is a red flag regardless of age. If you do have a certificate of authenticity, be sure that the serial number listed matches the number on the watch.
Stop, Look, and Listen
One of the best ways to tell if a Rolex is real is to take a close look at the second hand-dial movements. Since Rolex is famous for chronographic precision, which lends the hands perpetual movement, the motion of the second hand should be absolutely smooth. Cheap knockoffs will frequently exhibit a jerky, stop-start motion. Another way to test this factor is to put the watch to your ear: Authentic Rolexes do not emit a ticking sound, where counterfeits often do.
Pay Attention to Details
Intricacy is the calling card of true Rolex watches, and a key detail is the small winder knob on the side of the watch. This piece is often quite basic on counterfeits, but the Rolex winder piece has intricate grooves. Likewise, Rolex date watches can often be verified by the cyclops lens directly over the date, which should magnify the number beneath. Because fake Rolexes most often use a cheaper, non-magnifying form of glass, the number will be harder to read.
Consider the Source
While most of us are savvy enough to avoid buying a Rolex out of a stranger’s jacket, knowing which dealers to trust can be easier said than done. Always ask about specific certifications, and don’t hesitate to request a dealer’s credentials. According to Rolex, “Only official Rolex retailers are allowed to sell and maintain a Rolex watch,” so seek out a dealer who’s not only certified in luxury timepieces or fine jewelry but also specifically Rolex-certified.