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Real vs Fake: Buying a Luxury Watch Online

Q Report Team
Updated on November 11, 2022
3 min read

Once you decide to purchase a luxury watch, whether it’s a Rolex, Omega or Patek Philippe, your next goal is to avoid buying a fake.


With the rise of convincing counterfeits flooding the market, avoiding fakes isn’t quite as easy as it sounds. Inexperienced buyers might feel they’re getting a great deal on an expensive watch when they’re in fact paying thousands of dollars for a piece worth very little.


That’s why we’ve put together this list of tips to help you avoid getting scammed when you purchase a luxury watch online.


Learn about the Watch’s Real Market Value

Start by educating yourself about the luxury watch market. If you’re interested in a particular watch, check around to learn about the pricing offered by different retailers. Watch prices can vary based on market demand and the watch’s condition, so it’s acceptable and appropriate to ask sellers about their pricing.


As you learn more about the actual market value of a watch, you’ll be better able to spot a too-good-to-be-true situation. Realistically speaking, watch sellers rarely vary more than a few hundred dollars in their pricing of particular models. Therefore, a deeply discounted price should raise red flags.


Verify the Seller

Avoid buying a luxury timepiece from unfamiliar sellers. It’s always preferable to buy a watch from a reputable seller than to risk buying an inexpensive watch from a mysterious seller. Trustworthy sellers always offer paperwork guaranteeing the authenticity of the products they sell. Read online reviews from other buyers, and be wary of a seller that has very few or no reviews.


Ask for the Paperwork

Each luxury watch comes with a certificate of authenticity. Brand new watches should undoubtedly have the original paperwork, but it’s not uncommon for pre-owned and vintage watches to still have original documents.


In some cases, however, the original paperwork has been lost over the years. Instead, you may see an assessment from a certified horologist that verifies authenticity. If you’re presented with this second option, do your research and make sure the horologist is, in fact, a trusted name in the watch world.


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Know the Tell-tale Signs

Counterfeit watchmakers are getting better and better at producing convincing lookalikes. However, there are still traits you can look for that will help you to spot fakes.


Incorrect logos and fonts

The most glaring errors are those involving logos and fonts. If you’re familiar with the branding of luxury watches, you’ll recognise a logo with the wrong proportions or a font that’s not quite right.


Additionally, if you know what to look for in specific models, you’ll be able to tell if the hour or minute markers are incorrect. Small details like these can be huge clues as you avoid getting scammed. When buying online, ask for multiple images, especially close-ups of the dial.


Mixed and matched parts

Manufacturers of fake luxury watches often swap parts in and out of old watches. Keep in mind that many of these organisations are not sophisticated; they’re making do with what they have. Look for correct colouring as well as the shape of the dial, hands and bracelet.


Missing features

Perhaps the chronograph doesn’t work, or maybe the crown doesn’t turn. Fake watch manufacturers often end up having to put features in the wrong spots and install parts that don’t work correctly.


It sounds “off”

Each luxury watch model has its own sound, but top quality timepieces are usually very quiet. If you come across a particularly noisy luxury watch, something is up. With fakes, the internal mechanisms are generally poorly made, and this may account for the noisier-than-usual characteristics. While you probably won’t be able to listen to a watch when you buy online, you could ask questions about the watch’s sound before you buy.


When it comes down to it, your best bet is to shop for a luxury watch from a trustworthy watch seller. If you buy a fake, you could lose thousands of dollars and end up with a worthless item. When purchasing a luxury watch online, ask for certification paperwork, and double check the photos for any discrepancies.


And once you’ve purchased your watch, insure it with Q Report watch insurance. Get an instant quote to learn how affordable it is to protect the things you love.


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