Is this Breitling Navitimer watch a fake or the real thing? Read the article and find out.
I recently was in Kusadasi, Turkey,an extremely popular tourist stop for cruise ships on the Aegean Sea and a paradise for shoppers hungry for bargains in the many bazaars that line the streets. Hundreds of shops sell every kind of goods: hand-woven rugs, leather, perfumes, jewelry, artwork, high-end designer clothes and watches, choice luggage and handbags, and everything expensive that tourists desire and want to buy at cheap prices.
Kusadasi is also thegateway to many ancient treasures. Next door is an oldmilitary base used during the Ottoman era, where there's a fortress called Pirate Castle. The name's rather ironic given what's going here.I spent several hours perusing different shops, looking at the wide range of what would normally have been very expensive items in the major tourist spots around the world. What I learned pretty quickly:nothing is real, except the rugs and the leather in the jackets. Otherwise, it is all fakes and evidently the Turkish government is either powerless to stop it or does not care. Turkey is not part of the European Union and so copyright and trademark enforcement is lacking.
I wandered into one of the thirty larger rug merchants and was amazed at his inventory of more than 5000 gorgeous hand-woven carpets. I struck up a conversation with the owner, who spoke good English and to whom I shall refer to as Rami because I don’t want to wreck his multi-million-dollar annual business by drawing the attention of U.S. and Turkish law enforcement.
It turned out that he had a partner in the United States and annually visited South Dakota, which I found highly unusual and provided for instant rapport (it's my home state). When it became apparent that he was a major counterfeiter, my background automatically put me into casual-conversational interview-mode.
Rami is a proud member of the local Chamber of Commerce and the lead counterfeit watch manufacturer in Turkey, with stores and dealers all over the country. According to him, he sells watches, handbags, luggage and even expensive pens. They are all knock-offs. Brands include Omega, Breitling, Cartier, Rolex, Chanel, Patek-Phillipe, Franck Muller, Tag-Heuer, and IWC. If you want an expensive handbag at low prices, he sells Louis Vuitton, Chanel, Hermes, and Prada and it is very difficult to distinguish between factory original and the Turkish economy model. He told me that he and his 200 employees produce more than 1,000,000 counterfeit watches a year.
Genuine Fake v. Fake Watches
My modern-day Turkish pirate proudly told me that he only dealt in high-end “Genuine Fake” watches and would never carry the inferior quality fakes! Amused and perplexed, I asked the difference and was then provided with a primer as to how they do business and why there is actually a real distinction between what would seem like a real oxymoron. I asked, trying to suppress my laughter, “How can you have a Genuine fake? Aren’t all fakes not genuine?” I was told there is a clear distinction, for which there is a significant price differential.
I have owned Breitling watches for the past twenty years because of their precision and exceptional quality, so I asked if they sold them. They offered many models and you could not tell the difference between one that came from the factory and one that was produced in a back room somewhere in Turkey, so I asked just how this was possible. It was explained that the watch movements come from China, from a company called ETA,and they are quality mechanisms, just like in the original watches. The other parts are shipped to Turkey from China and assembled locally. When I asked what the difference was between the fake and real watches, he explained that there are two levels of fakes: those that are close to the originals, and the “others” (which he said with great disdain) that are essentially junk and easy to spot.
He told me that the Chinese made the fake-junk that sells for ten to thirty dollars, and which are inferior in every respect, including the internal movements, cases, faces, materials, tolerances, and logos. In contrast, the “genuine fake” watches and other goods are produced in consultation with retired craftsmen from the actual factories that make the originals. These experts come to Turkey to work with their craftsmen and assemblers to insure that the knock-offs are as close to the original as possible, and often indistinguishable. While the precious metals in a Rolex, for example, are real, the internal movements and wrist bands are close to the original in terms of quality. Insiders within the major watch companies also furnish intelligence as to manufacturing techniques and what to reproduce.
The genuine fakes are priced at about ten percent of the cost of the real thing and in today’s economy are selling briskly. Unless you know what to look for, the differences in weight, workmanship and appearance are difficult to detect between original and fake. I was told that the price of a counterfeit watch or handbag is based upon materials, and desired profit margin, which usually runs about 40%-50%. The rule for the consumer is that if a watch costs less than $100, it is a fake-fake which will soon stop working.
All of the components are brought through customs with no brand names, which are added in Turkey during the production process. A lot of the goods are moved through Dubai, Iraq, Iran or Syria because of the lax customs inspections and corruption. Finished goods are ultimately smuggled into the United States in various ways which are difficult to detect.
The decision as to what brands and models to replicate is based upon a number of factors but mainly rests on price and popularity and difficulty in reproduction. Older models can be produced in one day because all of the parts have already been copied and manufactured. New models can take up to thirty days to knock off. This is big business and is financed by investors, mainly in China. The factories foot the cost of the dies, so they become partners. No minimum order quantities are required, and everything is done on a cash basis. Contracts do not exist, and couriers often hand-carry critical parts.
According to my source in Kusadasi, watches, in contrast with other goods, are the most difficult to produce because they involve technology. Handbags, like the very popular Louis Vuitton, are very simple to copy and are often very high quality. In the case of handbags, retired workers are also recruited. It costs upwards of five to ten million dollars to learn how to manufacture near-originals. As my counterfeit-in-chief told me, “people in this economy will buy products that look and feel as good as the originals. It is just that simple.”
The largest markets for sales are Turkey, Greece, and Arabic countries. While there is a market in the United States, it is more difficult and dangerous to openly sell a large selection of goods because of the legal protections afforded by our copyright laws.
I contacted a colleague in London who is working a major counterfeiting investigation in China and was told that the watch and handbag companies have essentially given up pursuing the criminals because it is too difficult to get governments like Turkey to act. In Kusadasi, I was told that the risk is so minimal that it is worth the potential for civil seizure of goods. “There is nothing the watch companies can do about this in Turkey because there are essentially no legal sanctions as long as we pay the taxes,” he says. While my source says he knows all of those involved in this incredibly lucrative industry, he told me that the victim companies cannot identify the major players so they cannot be effective in any enforcement efforts, especially in China, where corruption among officials is rampant.
So if you are looking for the best in genuine fake watches, handbags, luggage, clothes and any other goods that look and feel like the original article, then you may want to visit Kusadasi, Turkey or Istanbul for bargains. But you also might want to stay away from some shops that are endorsed by the cruise ship companies. In interviewing their owners on my recent trip in Italy, Greece, Croatia, and Turkey, I was repeatedly told that prices that are charged to tourists who come off the ships are often increased to compensate the merchants for the kickbacks (they politely call them commissions) they are required to pay the cruise lines for the privilege of being endorsed as a “selected shop.”
And the Breitling Navitimer in the abovephotograph? It is a fake that I purchased from my friend's watch shop for $375. It normally sells for about $5,000. See if you can tell the difference between this photograph and that on the Breitling web site.
How can you tell a good fake watch? ›
Font – Most replica watches fail to get the font right, you'll get some fonts that are bolder, and look slightly smudged in comparison to the genuine watches. Spelling – Carefully look at any writing on the watch; the dial, the side, the case and the packaging. If any of the words are misspelt the watch is a fake.How can I tell if a watch is genuine? ›
Serial No: If the watch is authentic, the serial number on the watch case and bracelet should be exactly similar. Tally these numbers to differentiate between a real and counterfeit watch. Sometimes, the serial number is also placed on a sticker behind the dial of the watch, so you may want to check there as well.What are the most faked watch brands? ›
It stands to reason then that Rolex is also the most faked watch brand in the world, followed closely by genuine market runners-up Cartier and Omega, but what's surprising is just how big the scale of that fakery is.What is the most faked watch? ›
Watches. Counterfeit Rolex watches are, by far, the most popular within this category. On average, over 23,000 people each month search for a fake Rolex.How much does it cost to authenticate a watch? ›
Authenticating your watch at an authorized dealer will most likely cost you more than 600 bucks. Our experience is that authorized dealers demand to take a service when you bring in your Rolex to have it checked out.Do original watches tick? ›
Like in any quartz mechanism watch, Rolex models that have this type of mechanism also tick. Unlike cheaper brands that use quartz mechanisms, Rolex uses new technology, so its hands have the sound/tick almost silent. Therefore, it is indeed a watchmaking myth that Rolex doesn't tick.What is the most faked Rolex? ›
The most commonly faked watches include the Datejust, Submariner, Yacht-Master and the Oyster Perpetual – as well as the other famed series we will look at now: the Rolex Cosmograph Daytona.What is the most faked item in the world? ›
22% of all counterfeit goods seized are footwear. The most common brand victims are Nike, Adidas, Louboutin, and UGG. Have you ever heard of 'FUggs'? 2.5 million pairs of faux UGGs have been seized by US Customs since 2007.How long does it take to authenticate a watch? ›
An authentication partner will inspect the watch within two business days after they receive it.How can I check if a watch is stolen? ›
The Watch Register database
It also offers a database search service to retailers, pawnbrokers, jewellers, auction houses and collectors, which allows them to check the status of a watch prior to transactions. THE WATCH REGISTER database currently lists over 70,000 lost and stolen watches, and is growing rapidly.
Can you get a watch certified? ›
With the Watch Certificate™, that's history. Go to one of the authorised watchmakers and have the watch you want to buy inspected. You will know exactly how authentic each part of the watch is. If everything is good, you can then buy your new watch.Does Amazon sell original watch? ›
All the items we sell are 100% authentic, brand new and original. As you can see we have an A+ rating with the BBB and trusted by authorize.net. All of our watches come with the serial number engraved on the back of the watch.Do battery watches tick? ›
A battery or quartz watch makes a tick, tick movement as it hits the seconds.Why does Rolex stop ticking? ›
When the Rolex isn't worn, it will slow down and eventually stop. You will need to wind the Rolex so that it continues to run as you wear it. Keep in mind that the less you wear your Rolex, the quicker it will stop running and require winding. Each Rolex has its own power reserve time.How much does a real Rolex cost? ›
The cost of a Rolex can range anywhere between $6,500 all the way up to $75,000 MSRP. Factors that affect pricing are materials, new movements, collection popularity, and complications. The average price for most Rolex watches falls between $7,000 – $12,000 MSRP.How do you know if a watch is valuable? ›
Those are condition, brand, provenance, notoriety, marketability, rarity, complexity, craftsmanship, and metal. These details are the kingmakers and responsible for determining if a watch is worth $10,000 or $10 million understand vintage watch value.How do you tell a real Rolex from a fake? ›
On an authentic Rolex, the second hand will move in tiny ticks which appear smooth at a glance. The seconds hand should glide around the face of the watch without pause. However, on a fake, you're likely to see the second-hand tick along, stuttering its way around the face with every second that goes by.Do replicas have serial numbers? ›
Each luxury watch has a unique serial number to identify it, but most replicas share a serial number with many other replicas because engraving each one is time-consuming and costly.What is the highest quality watch brand? ›
Patek Philippe consistently tops the list of best watch brands in the world and is a status symbol like no other. Founded in 1839, the Swiss company is the last family-owned independent watch manufacturer in Geneva.How do you test a watch? ›
Test Cases for Watch
In the case of a digital watch, check the digital display for hours, minutes, and seconds is correctly displayed. Verify the material of the watch and its strap. Check if the shape of the dial is as per specification. Verify the dimension of the watch is as per the specification.
What watch brand is the most accurate? ›
Grand Seiko makes some of the most accurate mechanical watches on the planet (particularly those featuring their revered Spring Drive movement) and their attention to finishing is equally precise.What does 17 jewels mean on a watch? ›
What does 17 jewels mean? A watch with 17 jewels is often called a fully jeweled watch. This means that it uses jewel (usually ruby) bearings in the mechanical movement from the balance wheel all the way to the center wheel pivot.What watches will rise in value? ›
The top two — Rolex and Patek Philippe are considered to be, by far, the most collectable luxury watch brands, and the most likely to hold and even appreciate in value over time. This is due to brand recognition, exclusivity, popularity, quality, etc.How do I test my watch for gold? ›
Hold a strong magnet next to a piece of gold and watch for a reaction. Gold is not magnetic, so there should not be any attraction to magnets. If there is, you most likely don't have real gold. However, some of the base metals that can be mixed with gold are also non-magnetic so you can get a false read.Is it illegal to buy replicas online? ›
It is illegal to purchase counterfeit goods. Bringing them into the United States may result in civil or criminal penalties and purchasing counterfeit goods often supports criminal activities, such as forced labor or human trafficking.What is a genuine replica? ›
Replica goods are close copies of the original goods. Also referred to as knockoffs, they are acknowledged to be modeled after the original famous product. Therefore, even though they share a striking resemblance with the original goods, they are not passed off as being the real deal.What is the difference between replica and fake? ›
Replicas and fakes are both things which are not original, but these words are used in different contexts. A replica is basically used to indicate a product which is not real but is used for some specific reasons whereas a fake is not just a product. It is used in many contexts.