Real vs. Fake: Breitling Watches
Conversations surrounding replica watches can be divisive, with strong opinions on both sides of the debate. What draws people to fake recreations of brand-name luxury items, despite the fact that it’s illegal and morally questionable? It’s partly because it makes otherwise unaffordable pieces attainable. It’s also partly because of the sense that buying a new luxury watch is a money-losing endeavor. To the latter argument, we suggest looking at pre-owned.
The truth is that buying a fake watch may save you some money. However, it hurts more than just the big Swiss brands. It funds the shady (and frankly illegal) counterfeit market that employs cheap labor to produce watches that range from very poor to very good. There are many high-quality replica watches out there in the world. Yet, there are also smaller brands out there making equally good watches at the same affordable prices as counterfeit operations. They just aren’t trying to make their money off someone else’s good name.
Of course, it’s still a matter of opinion. People have their reasons for buying fakes, and you can’t really stop them. However, as a business that works exclusively in the pre-owned market, we do see our fair share of fake watches. None of them are all that great quality. Still, we can’t help but take a look and compare when a fake watch comes across a watchmaker’s desk.
This time around, it’s Breitling on the chopping block. While it’s relatively uncommon to find a fake luxury watch that isn’t a Rolex, we do see fake Breitling watches. Let’s look at a real & replica side-by-side.
How to Spot a Fake Breitling at First Glance
The dial is a common giveaway for a Breitling replica vs. real Breitling. The arrangement of the dial is often a pretty exact match. However, the printing quality of the text on a fake typically won’t be as crisp or as clean as the real thing. The same is true with the paint on the hands and markers—look for clean edges. Sometimes, the little details give away a Breitling replica vs. real Breitling.
In addition to the dial, you can often tell how to spot a fake Breitling in the finishing. You’ll often find the finishing on a replica watch won’t be as nice or as thorough. For instance, if there’s a coating on the case, that’s a dead giveaway. Not all replica manufacturers will cut the same corners. However, on watches with specialty materials, it’s something to keep in mind.
The Details to Look for in a Breitling Replica
The caseback is another detail that’s easy for a watchmaker to catch and identify a Breitling replica vs. real Breitling. For example, a real Breitling Blacksteel has a titanium caseback with printed text on the back and on the inside. A fake might use a lower quality steel to mimic the text but fail at properly replicating the font like the original Breitling stamp. Casebacks are generally a good way to tell a Breitling replica vs. real Breitling. Do your research and make sure the type of caseback is right for the model of watch. We’ve seen some strange combinations, like an exhibition back on Rolex.
Comparing the Insides
Always open up a watch if you aren’t sure—the movement will tell a watch’s secrets. If you can’t tell the difference on your own, visit a trusted expert to be doubly sure. A fake may have a replica movement, but the finishing quality may not be up to par. In addition, you can look for important markings on the movement. With Breitling, the serial number will appear on the outside of the watch and on the movement across the bridge. If it’s not there or the numbers don’t match, then you have a fake in your hands.
Breitling Skyland Avenger: Side-By-Side
The Breitling Skyland Avenger is a tough watch. The Skyland Avenger Blacksteel is even tougher. The PVD (physical vapor deposition) coating gives the watch its signature black look. It’s water resistant to 300 meters and in essence shockproof, making it extremely functional and durable. This watch isn’t just rugged. It’s also big. The Skyland boasts a 45mm diameter, and it’s over 17mm thick. The large dial easily fits three subdials and has stencil-style number markers and a date window.
Skyland Avenger Blacksteel rides the line between a pilot watch and a dive watch. Breitling has built a reputation for its pilot watches, and the Skyland definitely borrows from their designs. It’s a chronograph with Arabic numerals and high legibility, which falls in the brand’s pilot watch lineage. However, its depth rating, unidirectional rotating bezel, and screw-down crown are quintessential dive watch components.
Recently we had a convincing Skyland replica come through the office. The Skyland Blacksteel was a limited edition release in the Avenger line. Therefore, we were a bit surprised to see a fake. Now let’s look at some of the differences that stood out and how to spot a fake Breitling.
Before we jump in, it’s important to note that the dials of these two watches have different colorings. However, that isn’t what makes one fake and one authentic. Above, we mentioned that the Skyland Blacksteel has a PVD coating. Yet, side-by-side you can see that the crown tube on the fake watch doesn’t have the same PVD coating as the real Blacksteel. In addition, because it’s not an authentic Breitling, it wasn’t made with authentic Breitling materials. This means that the dark coloring coating the watch isn’t the same shade as the real watch.
When you look at the date window side-by-side, you can see the curves on the number eight are slightly different. The other big difference is that the date doesn’t center properly in the fake as it does the real. Moving on to the logo and the rest of the dial, the differences start to stack up. The font used on the fake Breitling isn’t the correct font. It’s thinner and the spacing is different. In addition, on the fake, the logo crowds the date window. The color is also not quite as rich on the fake as it is the real. The subdials show even more differences. On the real Skyland, the decorative striations on the subdials are on the left. The fake mimics the decorative striations but on the right hand side. The hands on the dial and subdial are also off. Breitling takes great precision in their craftsmanship and pays attention to detail. The authentic Skyland hands have painted center points matching the rest of the hand. On the fake Skyland, the hands’ center points are not painted to match.
Case and Caseback
Finally, there’s the back of the watch. The writing on the cases is not the same. On the real Breitling, the font kerning (space between the letters) is shorter. On the fake, the kerning is looser as is the leading (space between the lines of text). The font on the casebacks also differs. The real is crisper and cleaner, while the fake has less definition.
At first glance, this was a pretty decent fake. However, once you take a close look, you can begin to see the differences between the Breitling replica vs. real. Overall, the quality just doesn’t match that of an authentic Breitling. Before you make any watch purchase, it’s important to arm yourself with as much information as you can. Counterfeit watches are only getting more convincing, and you want to be sure that your investment is real.
For more Real vs. Fakes, check out our roundup.