More Than 23 Million Fakes Are Flooding U.S. Watch Market

Is your Rollie real or fake?

(Watchfinder & Co.)

All things Rolex watches are a hot commodity at the moment, in terms of sales, high-end watch thefts and now, fakes of the real “Rollie,” a new report suggests.

Research from luxury watch resaler Watchfinder & Co. estimates that there’s a jaw-dropping 23 million fake watches circulating the US market alone—with Rolex being the most counterfeited—and at least half the watches sent to the retailer over the past year were fake or contained fake parts (known as a “frankenwatch” in the industry).


And your average watch enthusiast hasn’t been the only one to fall for a phony watch, as Maroon 5 singer Adam Levine was reportedly spotted wearing a “frankenwatch” Rolex.

About ten percent of Americans have been conned into buying a bogus watch, according to Watchfinder & Co.’s research, and statistics indicate it’s not always a cheap mistake: Watchfinder’s survey found that about half of the fake timepieces cost $500 and upwards.


“Purchasing a luxury watch is a really special moment and something that often involves a significant amount of consideration and investment, so you can imagine the devastation people feel, if they discover the watch they’ve purchased turns out to be a fake,” said Watchfinder & Co. CEO Arjen van de Vall.

“Sadly, it comes as no surprise to see how many people are being tricked into purchasing fake goods, especially as spotting them isn’t as easy as you would think.

Van de Vall also called the rise of counterfeit goods “equally concerning” as it relates to declining trust in the pre-owned watch market.

Rolex Oyster Perpetual GMT-Master II (Rolex)

Watchfinder & Co. notes that the problem has become more pervasive as counterfeiters gain knowledge about how to craft perfect look-alike watches, known as “super-fakes” (although the report also notes about 15 percent of fake watches tended to break with a small amount of usage.”

Major cities such as New York City and Los Angeles are the biggest markets for fake watch sales and purchases, the report found, but a knockoff timepiece can seemingly strike any wrist at any time.


The smallest details tend to separate real watches from fake watches, Watchfinder notes. For example, the presence of grain on the bezel insert, colors being slightly off on the bezel or dial, and even crowns being too thin are all tell-tale signs of a fake Rolex.

Aesthetics in general, plus its actual functionality and the disassembly process, help Watchfinder spot fake timepieces, the report notes, but small cues can alert consumers to a fake timepiece.

Shopping smarter is certainly possible, as some Rolex watches can only be found on the secondary market: Take heed and spot that fake “Rollie” before your next purchase.