Those who know me will know my loathing of counterfeit goods so I thought that I’d write about a few of the main reasons why you should never buy a fake watch. I’ll endeavour not to turn this in to a rant, but I can feel my blood pressure rising as I type.
Replica vs Homage
You will hear the term “Replica Watch” which aims to normalise counterfeit watches, but it is not a term I like. I prefer the term “fake, rotten piece of worthless trash” (Oops, that might have been a slip towards ranting, apologies). You will also find watches that are described as “homage watches”. I have less of an issue with homages. I ought to explain the difference.
Without getting too involved in copyright law, watch manufacturers tend not to have copyright of the look of their watch but will have copyright of certain technological features of their watches and of course their logo and branding. This allows other watch companies to make similar looking watches, for example there are hundreds of different watches that have been made in the style of the Rolex Submariner, one of the worlds most iconic watches. So which are homages and which fakes?
Well, it is very easy. If the watch has branding and logo making it look like something that it is not then it is a fake. So if a watch has Rolex written on it but it is not a Rolex then it is a fake. However, if it has it’s own branding but is just in the style of a Rolex then it is a homage. I have no issue at all with homage watches, they are a whole other topic, but not one for today.
Now that we have that straight then we can take a look at why you should avoid fakes.
There is no need
There really is no need to buy dodgy replica watches. There is a huge choice of really decent watches at an affordable price. Quality timepieces that are honest and don’t pretend to be something that they are not.
A few hundred quid will buy you a great watch in it’s own right without having to resort to buying a fake. Certain Seiko watches or small brands such as Smiths or Precista from Timefactors have huge following and rightly so. They have great, durable mechanical movements and will serve for many years. So why buy a fake?
Fake Watches are for fake people
This was the slogan for the campaign from the Fondation de la Haute Horlogerie. I think that it really sums up how I feel about fake watches. There are two types of people who want to wear a luxury watch, ones who want them for their own enjoyment and appreciate the workmanship and the quality, and then those who just want the brand on show to impress other people.
I have little time for this second type of person generally, but those who buy a fake watch to try to impress others really are lying to the world, to themselves and are blatantly dishonest. I question the disingenuous nature of such a person and when I see a person wearing a hooky watch I really do think that it affects their reputation and certainly tarnishes my opinion of them.
Quality and reliability
When you buy a brand you have a warranty and a source of servicing and spare parts. When you buy a dodgy fake from the looky looky man somewhere on a beach on the Costa del Grot or in some market in Singapore then you are on your own once you hand over your cash. That watch goes wrong and you are stuffed.
Fake watches are made with one thing in mind, making money. They are made as cheaply as possible and have cheaply made, unreliable movements. There is no quality control and no money back, no guarantee (that’s what Del Boy Trotter said anyway).
When I was in short trousers my Father brought my back a lovely Datejust from Korea and I proudly wore it (I knew no better, I was 10 years old) until I dropped it one day and all the hour markers fell off and rattled around the dial. That was the end of that watch. Game Over! I would be deeply saddened if that happened to my current Datejust, but if it did then I would be able to take it to Rolex and they would fix it for me.
Having handled a number of fake watches it becomes clear that the quality is quite different to that of the watches that they pretend to be. I’ve seen sharp and rough edges on cases and bracelets, poor quality printing of the text on the dials, rough movements, movements that rattle, push buttons for chronometers that don’t function and if you think that you will get water resistance with a counterfeit watch then you will be sorely disappointed. These fakes are not built for longevity so don’t expect it.
The legal aspects of the counterfeit industry
Fake watches do not only break the law when it comes to intellectual property theft when they copy the branding of another company but they also hold some much darker secrets.
Because counterfeit watches are made illegally they are made in un-licenced and un-regulated factories. In these sweatshops the conditions are often dangerous and the workers often underage.
These illegal operations are generally part of a wider criminal network and the proceeds from your seemingly harmless fake watch can go to support wider and more serious criminal activities such as drug trafficking, child labour and money laundering. What seems like to some like “a bit of fun” has some very harmful consequences for others.
I really hope that you consider these points should you ever consider buying counterfeit watches. What if you already have one? Well, there is only one thing to do to it. Destroy it in the most fun way that you can think of.
Here is a couple of videos that I put together to give you a little inspiration. Warning – watches were harmed in the making of these videos.