Case Studies


Fake Rolex Facts

Two Explorer-I Fakes

Here we have the opportunity to compare two counterfeit Rolex's of different quality levels. Side-by-side, we have a "China" Explorer-I and a "Swiss" Explorer-I. Actually, both are made in Taiwan, apparently from different lots or factories.

By the way, before we get started: The "China" model was priced about 1/3 of the "Swiss" model.

Which is which? The most significant difference in this photo is on the bracelet end lugs. The "China" model (left) has rounded, lumpy edges, while the "Swiss" model has sharp edges and true cylindrical countours. Notice, too, that the "China" first links stick out too far, like floppy knuckles. The "Swiss" first links are tucked neatly into the end lugs, as they should be.

The "China" watch has a plain glass crystal with embossed Rolex logo and China-made movement. The "Swiss" watch has a sapphire crystal with etched Rolex logo and Swiss ETA movement. Otherwise, the differences are quite close...

Under close scrutiny, the "China" dial has surface indentations around the applied markers. This isn't good. There is also an inward dimple at the center shaft - that is normal for genuine Rolex dials. Also, we can see the embossed Rolex logo in the glass at the 6 hour mark. It should be etched, with a frosty appearence. The embossed logo looks more like bumpy ice.

The backs are very similar. The "China" hologram (bottom) is worn from use. The "Swiss" back is machined with slightly higher precision but isn't obvious at this magnification.

The bracelet of the "Swiss" model (top) is a bit better than the "China". The "Swiss" safety clasp is polised smooth on the outside, and has a machined relief for the thumbnail. The "China" safety clasp is incrementally worse, with simple dimples stamped on the outside and no machined thumbnail relief. In person, we can also see the overall quality of the "Swiss" bracelet is better - links are snug but never rub together, and the general look is "brighter and tighter".

Yes here it is - The Swiss-made ETA 25-jewel bi-directional winding 2836 base calibre plated in gold. The watch back is engraved "Rolex" inside.


Oops - Looks like China! This watch has a no-brand movement sitting in a plastic ring. The case back has the default engraving "Monarchpoley / Shitinerand".

In all, it's hard to recognize either of these Explorer-1's as a Fake Rolex unless you hold them and look closely. Perhaps the bracelet on the "China" one is the only sure give-away. Otherwise, due to their simplicity (no date display), these counterfeits are visually quite close to the real thing. But inside, of course, is a different story...