Help Key: How to buy a watch

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I’m just full of helpful hints this week. This one comes after seeing a comment on my other site, WristWatchReview about the BR02, a 1000M diver with a fairly striking design. I liked it when I saw it but at $4,800 I could probably pass. But did you know you could get it for a mere $168?

The Chinese fake factories usually churn out familiar models and brands. Rolex and Breitling seem to be in the top positions while Panerai and IWC are inching up behind. Essentially, the pirates make popular watches that are easy to build – usually the three-handed models with only an hour, minute, and second hand to worry about. I’ve seen complicated watches like chronographs but usually the chrono mechanism doesn’t work and it’s junk.

Here’s something more insidious, however. If you’ve never seen a BR02 in real life, you probably couldn’t tell the difference between this:

and this:


Which one is real?

It’s almost impossible to tell and, if you were offered this one on eBay or even in a shop, the novice would be hard-pressed to tell the difference. The bottom is the real model. Here’s how to check on a watch before you buy it.

1. Know what you’re buying. Know the face, the case design, and the case markings. All of these are available from reputable dealers as well as the websites of the manufacturers themselves. In this case, we see that the date window is wrong and the hands are painted incorrectly. A quick comparison would let you pick this out immediately.

2. Buy from an authorized dealer until you “know people.” If you’re looking to buy a big boy watch, go to a local jewelry shop. The folks at Tourneau in NY are very patient and helpful and they know they’re only selling $24,000 watches to collectors so they’re ready to work with you on your $3,000 Omega in hopes of getting your business down the line. If you have time and energy, you can frequent watch boards like WatchUSeek to meet other people who share your obsession and who might be buying and selling something you have or want.

3. Buy vintage. If you need a Rolex, get an older one. There’s no real money in faking a vintage Rolex and you get a bit of history with your purchase.

4. Start slow. Build up to the big purchases. Don’t buy a nice watch in Bermuda because it seems cheap. Unless you’re very lucky and in the right place, there is a slim chance you could be buying a fake. Don’t take that chance.

5. If it seems too good to be true, it is. This is the case with almost any purchase. If the price is too low and you meet the seller on a street corner, you’re probably getting conned. I remember a guy who used to run around the Canal Street area calling out “Movado watch. Museum quality watch. Movado watch.” every day of the year. I suspect his Movado wasn’t real.

Helpful Links
WatchPlace
WatchUSeek Sales Forum
WatchProSite Market
Poor Man’s Watch Forum
Chad, an authorized dealer with a heart.

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