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How to Assess the Authenticity of a Watch

By Cameron Martel


Updated on

Unfortunately, the world of designer and luxury watches contains some snakes in the grass. There will always be some out there who try to profit from the leading brands’ stellar reputations by manufacturing and distributing fakes in the market. We recognize that this is a major issue for our readers in particular, who are looking for affordable, yet high-quality timepieces.

We all know the old adage, “if it seems too good to be true, it probably is,” but this isn’t to say that affordability and quality are mutually exclusive. We demonstrate this fact on this site all the time, showing that you can even get a mechanical watch without breaking the bank.

The problem is, of course, fakes aren’t always easy to spot. When shopping online, some sites offer authenticity and quality assurances, which certainly helps. For example, the online marketplace Chrono24 has both premium seller and trusted seller certifications to ensure shoppers know they’re getting the real deal.

However, you won’t always have this luxury when searching for a good deal, especially when negotiating with third party sellers in person. Therefore, it pays dividends to know what to look for to identify a fake. Here are a few important tips and areas to focus on to help you separate the wheat from the chaff.

Do your research

It may sound obvious, but if you don’t know what a particular model of watch is supposed to be like, it’s far more difficult to spot a fake. Ideally, you should have a shortlist of watches you’re interested in so that you’re familiar with the models before you inspect them.

Research and familiarize yourself with how the real watch is constructed, what features they have, and any distinguishing factors that may be difficult for fakes to reproduce.


When you first pick up a watch to examine, the first thing to pay attention to is its weight. The lighter the watch is, the more likely that it isn’t genuine. This is for the simple reason that counterfeit models are almost always made from cheaper materials in order to reduce production costs.

It isn’t a foolproof method since some quality watches are deliberately designed to be lightweight, but it is nevertheless a useful indication. This way, you don’t have to be an expert at identifying precious metals to suspect that something may be amiss.

Engraving details

The detail of engraving on a genuine designer or luxury watch will be top-notch. Look for how cleanly cut the engraving is, as well as the neatness and proportions of the lettering itself; fake watches tend to display rough edges and uneven craftsmanship. You’ll need a magnifying glass to make out the detail, but don’t be embarrassed using it in public – you would be spending a lot of money after all.

Branding discrepancies

The major watch brands are often very particular about the branding on their timepieces, including the logo and sometimes watermarks. These elements will vary depending on manufacturer, so it’s well worth looking at the hallmarks and tell-tale signs of specific brands.

In general, though, you’d be surprised how many counterfeit models make simple spelling errors. For example, misspelling ‘professional’ with only one ‘s’ on Omega watches is more common than you might think.

Ticking loudness

Quality watches are very quiet – they’re engineered with a high level of precision to make them so. You should only be able to hear a soft ticking noise if you put your ear right up to the timepiece. If you can hear the watch tick from a distance, you may well be dealing with a fake.

Of course, there are many more signs that can indicate a fake watch, but the above aspects are a great way to quickly test them without much effort or specialist knowledge.

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About Cameron Martel

If it ticks or tocks, I want it on my wrist. I'm a fan of all things that keep good time, and I can't resist a great looking watch. WYCA is my way of appreciating the engineering and artistry that goes into affordable watches. My favorite watch is my Jazzmaster Auto Chrono, and the watch I wear the most is my Weekender Chronograph. I currently have 33 watches in my collection. Learn more about WYCA's Editorial Process.

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