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Tudor BlackBay 36
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I post blurry photos taken with my iPhone of my watch on WUS and I ask everyone if my watch is a fake.
I am 110% certain in my conclusion. The Forum is always right.
 

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I buy watches cheap enough for it not to matter. ;)

Anyway when buying vintage the main issue is not so much outright fakes, but repairs with non-original parts or parts belonging to other watches. Most people do care about that when they want an original vintage piece. But even on that I'm okay with quite a lot, recognizing that a watch -and especially a vintage watch- is (was) a tool to the wearer, and that it will have needed service or new parts over the years. A legitimate repair of a watch with a different part I don't mind all that much. I would draw the line though at outright frankenwatches: cobbled together from a parts bin recently, to get it out on eBay and sell.

That's point one.

Point two is that with fakes, more often than not nobody is trying to fool anyone or misrepresent it as real. Most fakes are also really bad: a different watch basically but where someone added a brand and logo. Most people who buy fakes know full well what they're buying and they're cool with it.
 

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How do you authenticate your watches and how confident are you in your conclusion?
With just a little experience you will find the difference between a real and fake watch to be quite plain.

Real:
1. A real watch is purchased from a reputable dealer
2. The price is as you would expect for the given watch.
3. The watch has a provenance, box and papers.

Fake:
1. The watch is not purchased from an established dealer of real watches.
2. The price is less than you would reasonably expect to pay for the item.
3. There are problems with the provenance, box and papers missing.
4. The watch does not perform up to the level expected of the real watch.
5. The workmanship is below what you would expect.
6. The watch does not weigh the same as the real watch does. (Take care, if the bracelet has been shortened the watch will weight less for that reason).
7. The dimensions of the watch are not exactly what they should be.

There are some excellent fakes out there. If you are for example buying a Rolex that you are not sure of take it to a dealer first. He will check it against the stolen register and check authenticity.

If in doubt view the watch as a fake and avoid.
 

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Any mechanical watch you buy, new or used, should be taken to a watchmaker just to be sure it's working right. Even an authentic watch that keeps good time can have things wrong with it. My watchmaker charges me nothing to give it a quick look and throw it on the wavy-line machine. If there's anything suspicious about authenticity, he'll see it, and (although it's never happened) he'd open it up to check further if necessary.
 

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Most of my more expensive watches have been purchased new from authorized dealers, but if I were on the market for a preowned watch, then my first order of business is to familiarize myself with the genuine article, by spending some time examining it in the metal and under a loupe at an authorized dealer, as well as feeling how well put together it is, focusing on things like the feel of the bezel action, crown action, and the movement when I set it and wind it, so that I know what the expect in terms of quality of finishing.

Next, I would do an Internet search to see if there are readily available high-quality fakes of the watch in question, which would then put me on heightened alert for the possibility of fakes. I would then examine the preowned watch I am considering in a similar way to the verified example, focusing for flaws under the crystal, on the dial and hands, on the fit and finish, and on the depth, quality, and nature (laser vs. CNC) of the engravings. If there is a display caseback, this further simplifies the process of authenticating the movement.

Many of the watches that show up on the "real or fake" threads one sees on the forum are pretty easy to spot, they include worn gold plating and poor finishing on watches that are only available in solid gold with a high quality of finishing, faux chronographs and faux moonphases, nonfunctional, illogical, or redundant subdials, display casebacks with poorly finished Chinese made movements. These are things that any watch enthusiast should be able to identify without significant knowledge of the genuine article, beyond a basic knowledge of the reputation of the brands involved.

But, the higher quality fakes are more convincing and require a much closer scrutiny to identify. One also needs to be cautious about relying on a single tell to identify fake watches, since the more elaborate hoaxes involve replacing the more noticeably fake components of a watch with an authentic replacement part. On Rolex Submariners, for example, there is a thriving business on parts like bezel inserts, sapphire crystals, and crowns on TRF in order to increase the believability of a fake watch. Even hands, dials, and movements can be replaced with the genuine item, so it's again nearly impossible to authenticate a watch based on any single characteristic.

At the end of the day, there is no substitute for an intimate knowledge of how the authentic item should look, feel, and function. But, even if one determines that a watch is not obviously a fake, there is truly no substitute for taking it to a watchmaker knowledgeable with the brand in question and having the caseback removed and the movement examined. Particularly with vintage watches it's difficult even for an expert to be unequivocal in the assessment of authenticity, particularly when it involves extremely expensive and rare items whereby the economic incentives to create a bespoke fake (or frankenstein) are sufficiently compelling.

With vintage watches, one needs to become familiar with the historical variations over the history of the watch, to ensure that all the components are period correct, since it's common to replace things like the dial and hands with an authentic replacement from a later era, which can significantly compromise value.
 

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Expensive watches I buy from an AD. Authenticity guaranteed.

For affordable yet readily available watches from brands like Seiko or Hamilton, I don't care. If I get a fake, it's not too much of a loss. However, I tend to buy those watches new from Amazon or used from members on the forum who were the original owners and I'm fairly confident they're real. Like I said earlier, if they end up being fake, no biggie. I'd just chuck it but it hasn't happened yet.

For micro brands bought used, something like a Halios or a Damasko is so fairly obscure that fakers aren't making them. Even if the watch from a micro came without papers I'd be fairly confident it's the real deal. Much easier for fakers to set their sights on a super-copy Rolex or Omega if they're looking for the maximum value on return.
 

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Wow, good/great comments. Haven't given it much (and perhaps not enough) thought. I've been satisfied with everything I've purchased so far from AD to grey market to ebay/private sellers (100 or so) from an authenticity standpoint. If any of them were fakes they were so good that it wouldn't matter (to me) since they all felt, looked and wore like I thought they should so my money was satisfactorily/well spent. That said, I've never actually seen a fake watch so who knows, maybe it's all I've ever bought . . .
 

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At the end of the day, there is no substitute for an intimate knowledge of how the authentic item should look, feel, and function.
This should be repeated. In the business world, it's called due diligence.

The more one spends, the more due diligence one must perform.

I just bought a Heuer 1964 Carrera Re-Edition. I have seen people who only think they are informed insist that if it is inscribed "1964 Heuer Carrera Re-Edition" around the rim of the caseback, then it is a fake. Or that if it lacks same, it is a fake. Fact is, they came both ways. The inscription was installed for some markets to avoid people trying to resell this accurate reissue as a vintage collectible. But who is going to fake a Lemania 1873 that is inscribed "Heuer"? This is the only watch in the entire history of Heuer that could have a "Heuer"-labeled Lemania movement. I wonder how many people have let a good deal on a legitimate Re-Edition go by because of that inscription, and what they were prepared to believe from reading the Internet.

I was confident in any case: I bought it at Tourneau, in their Certified Pre-Owned section, all of which are serviced. So, they had the back off and would have noticed the wrong movement, and wouldn't have offered it for sale. Tourneau isn't always the cheapest, but they can be trusted with such things. Buying it from the Internet? Not so much.

Due diligence may include bringing in an expert, or it may include acquiring one's own expertise. Or, it may require depending on the expertise of the seller, but only when the seller's expertise can be assumed.

I bought a Concord Impressario at another watch store, and one with which I had little experience and wasn't prepared to fully trust, but I know what a Zenith Elite movement looks like, and no fake would have one.

Rick "research, research, research" Denney
 

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6 of my 8 watches I bought new from an AD, problem solved.

1 watch my dad bought new in 1948. I have had it restored and know that it is authentic.

1 watch I bought used from a forum member. It was inexpensive, funky and works. Is it authentic? I believe it is, but I have no idea of where to even find a dealer for the brand and suspect my watchmaker has not seen much of this brand either. At the price point of this watch, I really don't care, but I believe it is authentic.
 

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Expensive watches I buy from an AD. Authenticity guaranteed.
Not really. Anywhere in the supply line from the factory to the store the genuine watch can be substituted with the counterfeited one. It can be done by the staff (or even the owner) at the AD. It's also possible that somebody bought a genuine watch from the AD, replaced it with the counterfeited one and returned it. It's also possible to replace the genuine watch with a counterfeited one on the spot, while "shopping", if you are fast enough, and there is a chance the AD will not spot the fake. So, while a chance of buying a fake from an AD is indeed small, it nevertheless exists.

And you always have to check if the AD is really (still) the AD.

An example from a few years ago:
BRITISH AIRWAYS passengers are being cheated out of watches, perfumes and other luxury duty-free goods by a number of cabin staff who are switching real goods for counterfeits on long-haul flights.The swindle, which costs individual passengers hundreds of pounds, is being operated on flights from London to Singapore, Hong Kong, Tokyo and other long-distance destinations. The scam was confirmed by BA this weekend.
...
Sources inside BA revealed last week that crooked cabin staff have been buying fake watches and other luxury goods in Hong Kong and Singapore for just a few pounds apiece. They take the products, which include counterfeit Raymond Weil watches, Gucci sunglasses and Chanel perfumes, on board the aircraft and switch them for the genuine items. The fakes are then sold from in-flight duty-free trolleys. The genuine items are pocketed by cabin crew and sold on the black market in Britain, netting them a profit of as much as £200 per item.
...
An insider said the bogus sales first came to light when a BA passenger returned a watch to the manufacturer because it did not keep time. "Although all the paperwork was correct, the manufacturer said the watch was not a genuine product and referred the customer to BA," the source said.
 

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The watches that I buy used are generally models that aren't faked and usually pretty affordable. But if I was buying something along the lines of a Breitling, Omega, Rolex etc I think now I'd be looking at buying from an AD or a trusted seller here, so many fakes out there if you are trying to score something like that at bargain price on EBay and plenty of times the sellers probably don't even know it's fake themselves.
 

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Expensive watches, I've only bought from ADs, however would buy from very established and trusted grey dealers.

Inexpensive (mostly vintage) watches I have first 'bought the seller' but realize I'm taking a bit of a chance, which is OK considering the dollar amount.
 
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