The Rolex President is a pretty iconic watch. There’s not really any other watch that looks like it—that includes fake watches especially. However, that doesn’t stop them from trying.
In general, it’s much easier to replicate a stainless steel watch. That’s because steel is a relatively cheap material, and if you just give it a polish it almost looks like the real thing. But gold is a much different story. We had one of our watchmakers compare a real Rolex President Day-Date to a cheap replica and document the differences.
The First Glance
Like we said, with gold watches, it’s a whole different ball game. If you know anything about the gold market, you’ll know that it tends to fluctuate. Because of this (and because of the fact that gold isn’t cheap), it would be almost impossible to produce gold watches at the price and scale necessary to keep costs down.
Likewise, Rolex gold is not like any other gold. Rolex operates its own foundry and mixes its own alloys. Its 18kt yellow gold, everose gold, and white gold are made with specific mixes of copper, silver, platinum, or palladium, and have their own unique tone. The process is painstaking, which is why Rolex owns the production themselves. It’s impossible to replicate.
With fake Rolex watches, you won’t see them in real gold. You’ll most likely find the cases have a gold coating you can scratch off, or they’ll come in gold-toned metals like brass. Either way, they’re not real.
The fake President we dealt with was a particularly bad one—it didn’t have the correct bezel (or even attempt to replicate it), the finish was pretty shoddy, and the hands weren’t the same shape. We can’t say that every fake will be the same, but those are pretty obvious signs. Tread carefully.
It’s always smart to open a watch up if you’re really not sure about it. Why? Because the movement will be a dead giveaway to the trained eye. Whether it’s an authentic Swiss movement you wouldn’t normally find in a Rolex or a replicated one from Japan or China, it’s pretty easy to see the details that separate the fake from the real.
To check out other information on spotting fakes, visit our Real vs. Fake Watch Roundup.