Here is what you need to know to help spot a fake Rolex Submariner; but sometimes it’s very difficult!
1. The bezel on a genuine Submariner turns only in one direction: counter clockwise. Fakes often turn in both directions or in other words, they are bi-directional. All high quality fake Swiss Grade 1’s are correct in this feature. So even if the bezel turns in the correct direction, this doesn’t mean it’s a genuine Submariner.
2. Bezel clicks. It takes 120 ‘clicks’ to make a full circle on a genuine Submariner. Fakes often fail to copy this feature correctly. Quick test: count the clicks for a quarter of a turn. You should count 30 clicks. 30 x 4 == 120 just like a real one. So even if the bezel makes a 120 clicks, this doesn’t mean it’s a real Submariner.
3. Movement inside. All Swiss Grade 1 Rolex replicas have an ETA movement inside. These are 25 jewels but many replica web scams tell you they are 27 jewels. They are not because ETA does not make a 27 jewel mechanical movement. The ETA does a beautiful job at replicating the second hand sweep of the genuine Rolex movement. It used to be this was a big clue as to whether or not a Rolex was real or not. You can no longer count on it. So even if the second hand “sweeps smoothly” to the naked eye, it is really quickly moving 8 times per second, just like on a real Rolex. Cheaper movements (non ETA) in the Submariner replicas are often still difficult to determine what kind of movement is inside based on watching the second hand sweep.
4. The 50th Anniversary Submariner with the green bezel insert. This is one of the most popular Submariners and is one of the most copied. The biggest flaw when looking at a genuine 50th Submariner (known as a “Greenie” due to the green bezel insert color or also known as the LV) is to check the case for lug holes. Rolex stopped making lug holes on their Submariner cases before they started to make the LV. Some replicas are made with the old style cases. So if you see someone selling an LV as genuine and it has lug holes…better run away as fast as you can.
5. LV dial. The LV is the ONLY Submariner where at the 6 o’clock position, the words SWISS MADE span and touch 5 minute markers. This is known as a “5 ticks” dial. ALL other Submariners have their words SWISS MADE touch only 3 minute markers, thus they are known as having 3 tick dials. If you see an LV for sale with a “3 tick” dial, it is a fake. If you see a standard SS Submariner 16610 model (non LV) that has a 5 tick dial, it is a fake. Update: I am seeing more and more genuine “3 tick” LV’s showing up on the internet at genuine Rolex watch forums. Either Rolex is now producing 3 tick LV’s or people who have the Swiss Grade 1 fakes are passing them off as real. It’s difficult to know. Buying a genuine LV from anyone other than an Authorized (Rolex) Dealer is extremely risky.
6. LV Submariner. The LV uses the new date font with the ‘closed’ 6 and 9 numbers. If you see an LV for sale that has the older style open 6 and 9 it is a fake.
7. LV Submariner. The LV uses what Rolex calls the Maxi Dial. It is the only Submariner using it. Along with this Maxi Dial, on the LV, are what is called the “Fat Hands”. The LV is the only Submariner using hour and minute hands that are ‘fatter’ than the hands normally seen on all of the other Rolex Submariners. Sometimes you will see an LV for sale that does not have the Fat Hands. Run away as fast as you can!
Other than the LV differences which I have mentioned, it can be almost impossible to spot a fake Swiss Grade 1 Rolex Submariner. The only way to know for sure is to take the watch into an Rolex authorized dealer or other high end watch shop and have them remove the case back and see what kind of movement is inside. That’s the only way to know for sure. The Two Tone Blue dial Submariners are a classic Rolex and are all but impossible to visually verify if one is real or not. Same for the Stainless Steel (SS) Black dial classic model 16610. You may not be able to tell a real one from a fake one unless you have the back removed and check the movement inside. If you’re going to try and buy a used Rolex Submariner on the internet, it is critical that you know who you are buying from.