Case Studies

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Essential plates of the Swiss ETA 2836 base calibre. The auto-winding weighted rotor is pictured at top.

Fake Rolex Facts
   
 

Yin & Yang: Complimentary Explorer-2 Twins

Are you kidding? A Swiss movement with adjustable 24-hour hand? Wow! I found these Explorer-II's on a recent trip and was blown away.

With precision detail even under an eye loupe, sapphire crystal, and bright stainless steel hardware - These are tough, solid, lifetime watches.

These must be the best counterfeit Rolex's I've ever seen!

And the adjustable 24-hour mechanism is icing on the cake. All other dealers I met told me "no way, there's no adjustable 24-hour hand on a Swiss movement". And the commercial counterfeit dealers on the web basically say the same thing. When they say "Functional", that simply means the extra hand moves to track the main hands - that modification is common. But it does not mean you can actually set the 24-hand to another time zone.

But whoever put this watch together really knows what they're doing. They started with a Swiss ETA base calibre, then modified it (much like the high-end watch companies do) to create the adjustable 24-hour hand. This really says something about the level of skill and craftsmanship that went into this watch.

   
   
 

The red hand is used to indicate an alternate time zone, in 24-hour format. As the main hands rotate, the red hand moves at half speed to make one revolution per day. And at exactly midnight by the main hands, a new date instantly snaps into place. There just isn't much room for improving this watch - With state-of-the-art Swiss technology, this is one tight watch, built for a lifetime of service.

The detail and accuracy is simply amazing...

  • The dial detail is super clean, even under high magnification.
  • The hands are very sharp, like X-acto blades.
  • The date display is one of the best I've seen. Perfect digit printing on the date wheel, perfect alignment under the window cutout, exact dimensions (right down to the sub-millimeter) on the window itself, perfectly centered lens. Just an awesome job!
  • Etched Rolex logo imprinted in the Sapphire crystal - probably the only marks this indestructable crystal will ever get.


Notice the bracelet work... The safety clasp is a smooth mirror, without any external dimple! See the large image for close-up detail.

The bracelet is sooo well made...

  • It has a nice, white gleam that overcomes the problems of a give-away bracelet on lesser Swiss fakes. Like white steel.
  • The safety lock is polished on the outside, without any dimples for the two detents inside it. (Even "Swiss" fakes usually have dimples outside the safety lock where the sheet steel was punched.) This bracelet obviously went through more production steps than most others.
  • The bracelet end lugs are cut very precisely, with almost sharp edges. The whole bracelet just catches the light in a certain precise way.

The movement is a Swiss-made, ETA 2836, modified base calibre, gold plated. The ETA stamp is visible just under the hairspring. This is a 25-jewel movement, with jeweled bearings all the way down the gear train to the bi-directional winding gears. "Rolex" and the Rolex logo are engraved on a plate affixed to the rotor. The inside of the screw-down back is also engraved "Rolex". The movement fits into a brass seating ring, there is no plastic spacer.

What Could Be Better?

But let's forget about this as a counterfeit Rolex. On it's own, this watch stands up against many up-market Swiss watches.

Take a look at the TAG Heuer Classic 2000 Automatic (not the cheaper quartz version). That watch has the same basic specs, but no 24-hour hand. It uses a derivative ETA base movement, has sapphire crystal, sealed screw-down crown and back. That watch retails around 1000 USD, with a list price closer to 1400 USD. But that's without the 24-hour second time zone. Adding the 24-hour hand costs even more, such as in the German Sinn UTC, retailing around 2000 USD.

Personally, I used to think the 21-jewel ETA Swiss / Sapphire Fauxlex Submariner was the best fake Rolex to date. But that was then... The black-dial Explorer-II with its red 24-hour hand, tough lifetime construction and perfect detail just blows the old sub out of the water.

 

Swiss watch manufacturers using ETA base calibres