How to Spot a Fake Rolex in 5 Minutes

Dec 22, 2023 | Rolex, Watches

Counterfeit or fake Rolex have been a common issue due to the popularity and high value of the brand. Are you considering buying one and want to protect yourself against a fake Rolex purchase? Or wondering how we ensure no fake Rolex watches are accepted as lending security or offered for pre-owned sale through our retail business? 


Yes, unfortunately fake Rolex is an ongoing challenge with numerous examples of counterfeit operations and instances where fake Rolexes have made headlines. That said, Rolex themselves actively work with law enforcement agencies and take legal action against individuals and organisations involved in the production and distribution of fake Rolexes as well as helping against stolen Rolex watches. They aim to protect their brand integrity and ensure customers receive genuine products. Jewellers and pawnbrokers also play a part in recognising copies as well as identifying stolen watches. Of course the issue is not Rolex exclusive, it is a huge problem for all luxury watch brands.

Genuine Rolex Watches at Suttons & Robertsons Pawnbrokers

Fake Rolex Operations & Sale

Operation Swisswatch: In 2008, Italian police dismantled a massive counterfeit Rolex operation. They seized over 8,000 fake watches and arrested several individuals involved in the production and distribution of these counterfeits.

Flea Markets and Online Sales: Counterfeit Rolexes are often found in flea markets, street corners, and online marketplaces. Fake Rolex watches can also be found for sale in physical shops There have been numerous cases where sellers have been caught selling fake Rolexes to unsuspecting buyers.

Customs Intervention: Authorities around the world, including customs agencies, regularly intercept shipments of counterfeit watches, including Rolexes, attempting to enter countries illegally.  

Production Raids: Police and law enforcement agencies have conducted raids on factories and workshops involved in the production of fake Rolexes. These operations often uncover large-scale manufacturing setups dedicated to producing counterfeit luxury watches.

Celebrity Scandals: Yes, there have even been instances where celebrities inadvertently promoted or wore counterfeit Rolexes. Public scrutiny and embarrassment has naturally fuelled more interest and awareness of the potential risk, at least one positive from their expensive mistakes!


Although we always advise buying through an Official Retailer for new Rolex purchases, and reputable dealers for second hand acquisitions, there are a few clues which could alert you to a fake Rolex yourself.  Here are our top tips:

Rolex Watch Weight

Rolexes are made with high-quality materials, either patented oyster steel or patented gold/platinum alloy, so they tend to be heavier than counterfeit ones. The weight and feel of a Rolex can often give away its authenticity. So, if you know someone who has a real Rolex, ask them if you can feel the weight of theirs so you have something to compare to. Or if you have a genuine watch by another luxury brand such as TUDOR (Rolex sister company), Omega or TAG Heuer, then compare with that for an initial view. Real Rolex watch weight is also very specific, all watches of the same model are identical, for example a true Rolex Submariner should weight 155 grams.

Second Hand Movement

Rolex watches have a smooth, continuous movement of the second hand, often described as a sweeping motion. Fake Rolexes may have a ticking motion for the second hand. Look closely and listen too. There is one design / model which is an exception to this, the Rolex Oysterquartz, which runs on a quartz movement instead of a self-winding or mechanical one, and does exhibit a ‘ticking’ motion and sound.

Genuine Rolex Watches at Suttons & Robertsons Pawnbrokers

Cyclops Lens

Rolex watches with a date window have a magnification lens called a “cyclops” that magnifies the date by 2.5 times. On a fake Rolex watch, this lens might be of lower quality, misaligned, or may not magnify the date properly. This feature is unique to Rolex, so if you are looking at another luxury brand featuring one, then also do question the authenticity.

Serial Number

Rolex serial numbers are engraved,  precise and clean. Check that the serial number is located between the lugs (the metal pieces where the bracelet meets the watch case). Counterfeit watches might have poorly etched or missing serial numbers.

Rolex maintains a database of serial numbers and the corresponding watch manufacture date. Although this is not publicly available, official stockists and reputable second hand luxury watch traders can verify the authenticity of a Rolex using this database. This same source can alo validate that the watch has not been reported stolen.

Quality of Branding & Materials

Pay particular attention to the Rolex logo and text on the dial. Take a look at official stockist websites to view authentic models up close and recognise the precision. Counterfeit watches often have a slight difference in font, spacing or logo placement.

Also examine the materials closely. Genuine Rolexes are made with high-quality metals, crystal, and have intricate details. Counterfeits might use cheaper materials that are visibly of lower quality upon closer inspection.

Rolex Box & Papers

The Rolex Box & Papers are equally as important to check. There can be notable differences between genuine Rolex packaging and that used with counterfeits. Genuine packaging reflects the brand’s impeccable standards and displays the same commitment to quality and attention applied to their watches. Examples include precision pouch stitching, accurate embossing, and perfect box corners.

The way the watch is presented within the box can also differ. Authentic Rolexes are carefully placed within the box, often with protective coverings and supports to secure the watch. Counterfeit watches might have less attention to presentation or protective measures. Different models are also presented in unique ways, a detail which often only true experts are familiar with.

Authentic Rolex watches come with thorough documentation, including a warranty card, owner’s manual, and sometimes a certificate of authenticity. The paperwork is well-printed, with sharp text and accurate information. Counterfeit watches may have documentation that looks rushed, with printing errors or missing elements. When buying a vintage Rolex the ‘box papers’ are highly useful because they assist the buyer in establishing whether the watch is authentic or not. A watch made in 1960 will not have a valid warranty, but the card will still have the serial number.

Genuine Rolex Watch Packaging at Suttons & Robertsons Pawnbrokers


Always keep in mind that counterfeiters are continuously improving their replicas, so some fake Rolex may appear quite convincing and our best advice always remains to buy from an official stockist or from a pre-owned luxury watch specialist whose own authenticity and expert credentials can be fully validated. Do they have a physical shop? Do they have reviews with trusted sources such as Google Reviews and Trustpilot? A London pawnbroker like Suttons and Robertsons are experts in Rolex watches and are aware that once sold they will need to stand by an item, as it can easily be returned. Remember a pawnbroker or second hand trader has already invested in the watch and will have undertaken comprehensive and undisputable verification checks. The retail division S&R Jewellers also fully guarantees authenticity of all pre-owned watches and jewellery.


There are certainly some preliminary checks you can undertake yourself to detect poorer fake Rolex watches but with highly skilled counterfeit operations, buying from a trusted seller remains absolutely the safest approach to invest in one of these world leading watches.

If you own a Rolex want to get a fast cash loan from a London pawnbroker or you are looking to sell your Rolex, then please get in touch. We are experts in luxury timepieces can guide you into this exciting world. You can also shop our pre-owned Rolex products online.

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