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How To Tell If A Rolex Is Real? An Expert’s Guide To Authenticity

It’s no surprise to anyone that Rolex has become one of the most recognizable and sought-after luxury watch brands in the world. Unfortunately, it also means that the brand is highly susceptible to counterfeiting. 

The good news is that if you know what to look for, you can easily spot the difference between an authentic Rolex and a fake. In this article, we’ll walk you through how to tell if a Rolex is real – with tips from an expert!

Why is it challenging to spot a fake Rolex?

First, let’s look at why it’s not always easy to spot a fake Rolex watch:

How To Tell If A Rolex Is Real? An Expert’s Guide To Authenticity

Fake watches are getting really good. 

These days, it’s getting harder and harder to spot a fake Rolex. The quality of fake watches has increased dramatically in recent years, especially regarding high-end and mid-range fakes. Even experienced watch experts can have difficulty telling the difference between a real Rolex and a well-made fake.

One reason it is getting harder to spot a fake Rolex is that the counterfeiters are using better materials. In the past, counterfeit watches were made with cheap metals and plastics that looked nothing like the high-quality materials used in real Rolexes. Today, fake Rolexes are often made with solid stainless steel cases and sapphire crystal glass – just like the real thing.

Another reason it is getting harder to spot a fake Rolex is that counterfeiters are becoming more skilled at making them. In the past, fake Rolexes were often crudely made and easily spotted by anyone who knew what to look for. Today, however, many fake Rolexes are exceptionally well made with flawless finishes.

Rolex is not that good at their finishings

When it comes to finishing touches, Rolex is not always the best. In fact, some experts say that Rolex’s finishings aren’t as good as they could be.

Some models have excellent finishing, while others have sub-par finishing. Rolex uses a lot of mass-produced parts. This means that while the overall quality of their watches is very high, the individual components are sometimes up to different standards. This can result in some consistency in the finishings on Rolex watches.

So, it takes work to spot a fake one. However, there are some things you can look for that help you determine if a Rolex is real or fake.

How to tell if a Rolex is real?

Many people need help figuring out what to look for when spotting a fake Rolex. There are some telltale signs, but often people don’t know what they’re looking for. This can lead to them being scammed by someone selling a fake watch.

If you’re unclear whether a Rolex is authentic, here are seven indicators that experts look for to determine whether the watch is genuine or fake:

The seller 

When a seller contacts you or a buyer contacts you and you have this gut feeling after a bit of back and forth, always heed that feeling.

A few easy queries to the vendor will reveal whether or not this person is legit. You can ask things like changing the time and date to a specific date and time, setting the watch down and providing a picture with their driver’s license. That tells you if this person has the watch in their collection and if they will comply. 

It is a scam if someone is trying to sell you a ten or twenty-thousand-dollar watch but does not have time to take a picture of it.

Consider how and where you met this seller, whether they approached you or approached them, whether you met them through trustworthy sites like Chrono 24 or Ebay or targeted more toward local or in-person cash transactions like Craigslist. Those that are a little shadier should be approached with extreme caution.

Another point to consider is pricing. Since everyone nowadays has access to Google, even if you don’t know anything about watches, you may ask Google about the typical price for the watch you’re searching for. This is a red sign if the vendor requests $11,000 for a watch worth between $20,000 and $25,000.

Serial number 

Serial numbers are an essential aspect of Rolex watches. Each Rolex has a unique serial number; before 2010, you could use a serial number to date the watch. 

However, since Rolex began randomly assigning serial numbers in 2010, it is no longer possible to date a watch using its serial number. Nevertheless, serial numbers are still essential to authentication, as they can help identify a fake or counterfeit watch.

It is usually a good idea to verify that the serial number on the Rolex matches the sequence in the paperwork and if the vendor can supply any such official papers or certificates. If you don’t have access to these documents, it’s recommended to proceed with caution when trying to determine Rolex’s legitimacy by visual inspection alone.

The serial number of a Rolex watch is typically located between the lugs on the 6 o’clock side of the watch. You can also find the serial number on the inside of the case back, engraved into the metal. 

If you have the watch serial number, you can type it into Google (with quotation marks on either side) to see if there are any results. If there are lots of results, then it is likely that the watch is fake.


This is arguably the most straightforward technique to spot a fake Rolex, but it is also the most difficult since you must hold the watch in your hand.

When you contact a genuine Rolex movement via the crown, it will feel buttery smooth. When you unwind the height on a genuine Rolex, there should be some resistance since you are unlocking the crown, but it should feel incredibly soft as you unscrew it. When you engage with the movement, either by winding it or adjusting the time, it should feel like slipping a hot knife into butter.

It’s a different scenario when you’re wearing a phony Rolex; simply unwinding or unlocking the crown feels terrible. When you wind and engage with a fake watch, the mechanism isn’t as precise, and it doesn’t seem as well-engineered as a genuine Rolex. There appears to be sand in action.


How To Tell If A Rolex Is Real?

The cyclops or the date window is a small magnifying lens placed over the date on the watch face. This feature was designed to make it easier to read the date, but it can also be used to spot a fake.

This 2.5x magnification is only found on real Rolex watches. Most of the time, it takes too much skill and money to make a fake look the same. This is why a lot of fake Rolex watches have a cyclops that doesn’t magnify.

Plus, the date number on a genuine Rolex must be perfectly flawless. The location should be in the precise center of the date window. It will sound dreadful when you take a closer look at a fake Rolex. If you know this, it will be much easier to spot a fake Rolex watch.

Laser etched crown 

How To Tell If A Rolex Is Real?

Rolex is known for its sophisticated and gorgeous watch designs, and the crown is one of the most prominent aspects of a Rolex watch. The crown is typically embellished with the Rolex logo and other elaborate decorations.

Rolex includes a small laser engraved crown at six o’clock on the sapphire crystal. It’s pretty challenging to see with the naked eye, but if you angle the watch correctly, you can make it out.

Rolex does not just etch the crown at six o’clock on the sapphire crystal; they do it using small dots at varied heights and depths within the sapphire crystal. As a result, the logo is not created by a single continuous line.

This tiny element is easy to overlook, yet it is a reliable technique to determine if a Rolex is genuine or counterfeit.

Text on the dial 

How To Tell If A Rolex Is Real?

Regarding Rolex watches, the text on the dial is one of the most important things to consider when determining whether a Rolex is real or fake. 

The text on the dial should be crisp and clear, and it should be evenly spaced. If the text on the dial is blurry or uneven, then it is likely that the watch is fake.

Fake Rolex dials typically feature terribly executed typefaces, with the size and form of the letters being generally inaccurate and poorly produced. While the lettering and wording on the genuine Rolex will be flawless. This is a tricky situation that cannot be seen well with the naked eye, but as you come closer, it begins to break apart.


As you may know, a Rolex has a polishing finish that is very close to perfect. Every surface that has been brushed or polished looks excellent.

How To Tell If A Rolex Is Real?

The brush on a  real Submariner is excellent, and when you look at a fake one, you can tell that they try to copy that and do an excellent job of it. 

The polished sides of the case on the fake could be better done, and the links on the bracelet also look good, but the brushing on the clasp is the dead giveaway. The brushing on the clasp is probably done by a machine because of the thin, straight lines. Compare that to the clasp on an authentic Submariner you will see the difference.

Read: Rolex Service Cost


Knowing how to tell if a Rolex is real or not can be a difficult task. It requires knowledge, skill, and attention to detail. 

With the help of this expert guide, you have all the information you need to confidently determine whether your Rolex timepiece is genuine or counterfeit. Before making any purchase decisions, you must ensure that what you buy is authentic and of good quality – after all, it’s an investment in yourself!

TEA Staff

The Elite Art staff writers are watch experts who take great pleasure in sharing their knowledge and guiding readers toward their favorite timepiece.

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