Rolex is probably copied more than any other, probably the most popular among the watches and replica watches in the world.
The brand is always in high demand and brings in a great deal of cash from the secondary markets. This means there is a never-ending source of cus¬tomers for Rolex products.
The replica watch makers capitalize on the fact that Rolex seldom changes their models, and on the large replacement parts market to produce some very good replicas of original Rolex models.
Rolex has countered the replica threat in the last couple of years with a few security features in their latest offerings.
Rolex currently etches a very small (invisible to the naked eye) crown at the 6 o'clock position on the watch crystal.
Recent Rolex models seen at the 2004 show in Basel have shown watches with the name "Rolex" engraved on the dial sides under the crystal. Since neither is consistently used across the current product line it remains to be seen how effective these measures will be.
Even with these new anti-counterfeiting meth¬ods in place, there still is a huge market of pre-owned Rolex watches that are vulnerable to being confused with the higher-end replicas.
The models that seem to get copied the most in replica watch market are: Submariner, Day Date (President), DateJust, Sea-Dweller, Explorer II, GMT II, and Daytona.
It is notable that the trend currently in Rolex counter¬feits is to produce replicas of "vintage" models in the watches and replica watch market. That means replica "Double Red" Sea-Dwellers and counterfeit 1980s-style Daytonas using Poljot movements. Always be suspicious of a 40-year old watch that looks new and tried to be sold as brand new in the watch and replica watch market.
Many replica sellers try to confuse the issue on the quality of their goods by referring to "A++" or "Category 1" watches.
When it comes down to it they break down into simple categories:
Poor No observant person would ever con¬fuse these examples with the real watch. They are cheap and flimsy, made out of poor quality pot metal and in some cases plastic. The band links are secured with pins instead of screws, and may even have see-through plastic case backs that show off the cheap Asian move¬ment.
These also sometimes use quartz move¬ments which result in a "tick" in the movement of the second hand.
Average The average Rolex replica would pass the Sleeve test (viewed on the wrist from a distance), but would fall flat on closer examina¬tion. They have incorrect bezel inserts and date wheel fonts.
Watch for poor magnification from the cyclops on Submariners.
High-end The better quality counterfeits still suffer from bad bezel inserts (particularly the be¬zel pearl, which is not inset), but the task of pick¬ing them out becomes much more difficult with the ability to fit genuine parts to these examples.
More than one replica submariner is floating around with a genuine bezel. The easiest way to identify these watches is to look for the correct cyclops magnification and the right font on the date wheel.