How to spot a fake or replica Rolex or Panerai watch.

This guide provides several important details that will help you buy a REAL Rolex or Panerai watch on eBay. This guide will also help you find a respectable seller on eBay. Here are some buying tips when buying any high end watch on eBay. Rolex and Panerai in particular. I have been a buyer and seller of luxury wristwatches on eBay since 1998. I am a respected member of several internet watch forums. Before I purchased my first Rolex I studied several books, web articles and photos of authentic Rolex watches. I wanted to be sure that the Rolex I bought would be authentic. Below are just some of the things I noticed while on the hunt for that first Rolex watch.

For around $250 or as high as $1500 you can purchase a FAKE Rolex or Panerai watch that looks and runs 95%+ perfect. Panerai replicas can look excellent. You can even buy a fake or a authentic Rolex box and books on eBay. If the scammer puts together all the parts it could look like a complete authentic watch set. For around $350 you could get a watch that would fool most your friends. For $500+ you could fool many authorized dealers if looking from less than a foot away. Why you ask? For example many Panerai watches are in such short supply that the dealers never even get a good look at them closely before they are sold. Therefore It is very hard to remember the many tiny differences to tell a fake from authentic. Rolex dealers on the other hand almost always have stock on hand for detailed inspections but sometimes can have salespeople with little knowledge.

When buying a Rolex or Panerai on eBay here are some tell tale signs of a potential fakes (replicas).

1-REAL Rolex’s come with certificates (that can also be replicated but not perfectly). The fake paper certificates will lie flat with no folds and have no dealer or owner names on them. A REAL Rolex certificate will have folds and the 2007 or newer certificates are a plastic credit card style. The serial number on the watch case should match the certificate and the green “swim proofs” tags. If the watch is within 1 to 5 years old there should be very few good reasons why someone should not have a Rolex certificate for the watch. Yes I now people lose them or trade them in without the certificates but 90% of Rolex buyers know the papers are VERY important and will keep track of them. This certificate is also required to get warranty service under the original two year warranty. If they purchased the Rolex from a AUTHORIZED Rolex dealer (AD) the dealers will tell them to hang on to the papers or the new plastic cards for service work. A real Rolex without papers can be worth thousand of dollars less than one with proof.

2-If it says “was given to me as a gift” or “purchased from a estate sale”; This should be a red flag. Think hard. Do you know anyone who has received a $5,000 plus watch as a gift lately? Yes, I know there are a few but come on. Another example is people saying “purchased at a estate sale and don’t know of the authenticity” this is red flag number two. Again have you or anyone you know of been to estate sale and picked up $5,000 plus watch for $500 or less? OK maybe someone lucked out and went to a sale where some rich guy died with no family or friends and found a vintage Rolex Daytona. That happens everyday right? NOT! First off MOST well to do people have wills , family members, friends or charities to donate their personal belongings to upon their death.

3-Notice the little things. Here are some examples… A new AUTHENTIC Rolex will come in a green leather box with cream swede lining and not felt and pleather. The green leather box comes in a cream or algae printed cardboard box with the Rolex crown stamped on the top in gold. The cream or green algae colored box (sometimes) comes wrapped in a plain white thin cardboard liner to protect that box. The watch will come covered with small clear protective plastic on the case, back, and bracelet. Current Rolex’s will have a clear protective sticker of the left side of the case with a very small bar code printed on the sticker.The watch will have a clear hard plastic snap on bezel protector attached. There will be a red round plastic (wax looking) tag with the a Rolex hologram and CSOC stamped on it. There will be a green Rolex rectangle plastic tag (important) that has the Rolex model on it and the serial number as well. There is a high quality paper or green/gold credit card certificate of authenticity that also has serial number, model, dealer and owner name on it. The paper certificate is also embossed with gold looking triangles (not beige like the fake copies). As of the latest “Z” 2007 or newer serial numbers the paper was replaced with (the yet to be counterfeited) plastic credit card size certificate. There will also be a small rectangle piece of swede with W cut edges. There will be at least three small Rolex manuals. “Your Oyster” manual. ” Rolex “your model here” manual and a “Care of Your Rolex” Manual. There will be either a green leather, green paper or green thin cardboard document holder stamped Rolex. There should be (except Z + Serial) small white card stock card with nothing on it in the paper document holder. Last but very important ( to many Rolex people) a green (now clear) Rolex hologram sticker on the back of the watch. Please keep in mind MANY Rolex dealers remove the sticker when purchased but the good ones stick it to the certificate or wax paper. Just so you know there are even counterfeited green hologram stickers.

4-Newer than Z serial or higher Rolex’s have a clear model sticker on the case back now instead of the green hologram style of previous models. All of the current Rolex models have the serial number etched on the INSIDE rim of the watch case under the crystal. It is located at the 6 O’clock area. The previous versions had the serial number UNDER the bracelet on the watch case between the lugs. The newer Rolex’s also have the word ROLEX and the crown logo on the inside rim of the case also under the crystal.

5-Rolex laser etches a almost invisible Rolex crown located at the 6:00 position on the crystal. FAKES HAVE THIS TOO. The difference is that the REAL one is perfect and is a series on tiny dots and again barley visible to the human eye. The fakes you can see 1 foot away from the watch.

6-Things that you can check when you receive the watch and have it in hand… When winding a REAL Rolex you should be able to hear distinct clicks (not a scuffing sound). A good ear can even hear the movement ticking. It should have a light and fast ticking sound. Much faster than tick-tok. Every fake Rolex I’ve seen makes a scuffing noise when winding generally louder than the clicking sound.

7-Check out the seller… If the seller was selling mostly Sony Playstations, baseball cards or video games previously and has not sold or purchased other expensive items; They could be crooks. If their previous items sold or purchased are not expensive or don’t match the patten of a watch dealer or affluent person ; Watch out. If the guy has a very short history but their ads look like they were done by a pro; This could be a red flag. Are the photos all shot in the same light or do they look like stock photos or stolen off the internet? Is the time set on the watch come close in all the photos? The time should be close in all photos if they were taken together. Have you seen the same photos before in someone else ad? All are good signs of a thief. Is the seller registered with a USA eBay account but their item location is China or somewhere else ? Are they afraid of Pay Pal or ask you to use a wire service? Some legit dealers don’t accept Pay Pal but this is usually due to their service fees and not because they have problems with Pay Pal. Do they always seem to start their auctions after 5pm Fridays and end them Sunday eve? My guess is that weekend listings are not watched as much via eBay or their Vero system on the weekends. The bogus sellers are in and out before they can get noticed or reported. Look at their previous auctions to see if the photos are set in the similar settings. Most experienced sellers take their photos in the same area because of good lighting or surroundings. Oh yea I almost forgot. That guy that takes out of focus photos of his $10,000 watch because he says he has a bad camera. Maybe he does but you have to think; If he can afford a $10,000 watch he probably owns a decent digital camera? It’s 2012 and cameras or smart phones are cheap.

8-The most important of all. This is what makes a Rolex a Rolex. Upon visual inspection with the naked eye; EVERYTHING SHOULD LOOK PERFECT. Letters on the dial are perfectly straight. The finish is flawless. The polished areas look like a perfect mirror. The brushed areas are perfectly parallel with each other. The luminous markings have a strong light green glow or blue on a DeepSea. The bracelet snaps tight but not stiff. The time is very accurate. Usually +/- 3 seconds a day. Now grab a jewelers loupe and even under magnification it still looks perfect. THAT IS A ROLEX.

As for Panerai and others I highly suggest that you only buy from a very reputable seller and/or make sure it has the boxes, plastic warranty card and verify that the serial numbers on the watch, tags, outer box and certificate card all match up. Since most Panerai’s uses modified ETA movements it is easy to find a quality fake with a ETA movement in it. Some even have Panerai markings on them. If this guide helped you please vote positive for me.

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