Armed with these simple tips the professionals use can help with a quick decision for the next step before paying for it, all genuine sellers will either provide images or descriptions, those that dont, or wont, you can make up your mind about. After all a genuine Rolex is an extremely expensive piece, so being sure before handing over a great deal of money makes sense whereas getting conned is not going to contribute to your reputation as a success. However you can make a difference and help others by voting YES below in so doing making this advice more visible to others in order to help make eBay a safer place to buy and sell.
Examine the Rolex print under magnification and you will find that a genuine Rolex is superb and has a convex appearance with no bubbling and sharp corners. Fakes often exhibit bubbles and less defined edges. This includes the date magnified by the bubble.
Rolex Second Hands move smoothly without jerks. A jerky motion indicates an internal Quartz movement, and the only Rolex with a Quartz movement is an Oyster Quartz, therefore all other models should be display a smooth motion. The smooth movement comes from the 5 - 6 ticks a second of a Rolex, unless its one of the mechanical 1960s model or of course the OysterQuartz.
A Rolex date movement is sharp and occurs on the stroke of midnight without lag. The same engineering that goes into every part of the watch and as such in the case of the Submariners you should expect the same precision and attention to detail, this should move smoothly and freely with a feeling of quality rather than a jerky, lumpy hard touch to it.
Rolex movements have different coloured wheels and rotor. Fakes often do not go this far and movements are stamped ETA.
Rolex always number the head fixing bracelet end pieces and edges of the bracelets are always smoothed. Fakes do not have this attention to qualty.
Rolex engraved numbering has a continuous smooth and crisp movement throughout each number or letter. Fakes exhibit evidence of multiple starts and stops under magnification. This is of course unique to the watch which any Rolex dealer can verify and additionally access its purchase and service history.
Engraved between the case lugs at the 12 oclock position. This 4, 5 or 6 digit number refers to the model which should correspond to the model of the watch.
16600 Sea Dweller SS
16610 Submariner SS
16613 Submariner SS and Gold
16570 Explorer II SS
16750 GMT Master II SS
16622 Yacht Master SS and Platinum
114270 Explorer I SS
116520 Daytona Cosmograph SS
Of all the current models, only the Sea Dweller has writing on the back.
If you can open it up to see inside and if the seller does not allow this it is very likely to be a fake and they know what your decision will be if they do.
Feel all edges for smoothness both inside and outside, as Rolex pay particular attention to chamfering and smoothing everything including the screw heads.
Often overlooked are the boxes themselves, these are very expensive items and the box should reflect this attention to detail.
Update 24th Oct: However, as it was recently pointed out to me by a reader of this guide, few people will risk opening up a £4000 watch even if it is genuine. The way round this would be to consider reputable jewellers photographs or authentication. A good practice for the sellers to adopt as well, as the item would be taken much more seriously.
Update July 2008: With the exception of two notable instances in the 1960s and early 1970s a genuine Rolex is not generally co-branded, and Rolex do not print anything other then ROLEX on their recent watch models. However it should be noted that early watch models bore the name of retailers, and as such are highly collectable, but Rolex never double-named their products with Disney or any other media organisation, but they did enter into bulk supply arrangements with Coca Cola and Domino's Pizza who then added their logos to the faces intending them to be given as rewards for exceptional employee contributions. Also the COMEX diving watch collaboration was noted for its "Gas Escape Valve" clearly branded on the face dials.
Although this is sound advice, the less experienced of us should finally seek expert advise for verification. Also as fakes get better and better, the only sure way is to open them up and get it checked by an authorised dealer. Therefore I would only buy one if I was allowed to the time to take it for verification as part of the deal, but even that is risky.
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