The Ultimate Guide: How to Tell if a Rolex is Real

Posted by Suzie Kidger-Clarke

on 14th July 2023

Rolex watches are some of the world’s most luxurious and prestigious timepieces, often commanding prices of tens or even hundreds of thousands of pounds. But with that reputation comes a bustling market for counterfeit watches that attempt to replicate the design and functionality of real Rolex watches. That’s why it’s important to know how to tell if a Rolex is real before you make a purchase.

If you’re shopping for a pre-owned Rolex or are wondering if your current Rolex watch is genuine, there are several things to look for to help you determine its authenticity. In this ultimate guide, we’ll explore different ways to spot a fake Rolex so that you can make an informed decision before making a significant investment.

Why buy a Rolex watch?

When it comes to luxury watches, Rolex is certainly a brand that stands out. But why buy a Rolex watch?

For starters, Rolex watches are known for their exceptional quality and durability, making them a reliable investment that can last a lifetime. They are also highly sought-after in the world of collectors, with some models increasing in value over time.

In addition, Rolex watches have a timeless design that never goes out of style, making them a classic accessory that can be worn for any occasion. Finally, owning a Rolex watch is often seen as a symbol of success and achievement, making it a status symbol that many aspire to own. All of these factors combined make buying a Rolex watch an appealing choice for those looking to invest in a high-quality timepiece. So, it comes as no surprise that many choose to fake Rolex watches, both online and in store.

To avoid getting caught out, we’ve put together the following tips to look for, so you know exactly how to spot a fake Rolex (and see what a real Rolex watch looks like!).

real rolex watches lh watch trade
rolex watch

How to Spot a Fake Rolex: 5 Key Things to Look For

1. Weight and Feel

One of the easiest ways to spot a fake Rolex is by comparing its weight and feel to that of an authentic Rolex. If you’re unable to compare the fake Rolex watch to a real Rolex, simply have a think about its weight. If it feels too light, the chances are it’s a fake watch.

Rolex watches are crafted from high-quality materials, including precious metals and sapphire crystals, so they have a heavy and solid feel to them. Counterfeit watches, on the other hand, often use cheap materials, making them feel lighter and flimsier than real Rolex watches.

A real Rolex will also have smooth winding and setting mechanisms, while a fake Rolex may feel gritty or rough when you try to adjust the time or wind the watch. If you’re holding a Rolex watch and it feels too light or doesn’t wind smoothly, it’s likely a fake.

cyclops magnification
how to tell if rolex is real
authentic rolex watches
real rolex watch

2. Cyclops Magnification

Another feature unique to Rolex watches is the Cyclops magnifier, which is a small lens placed above the date window. The purpose of the Cyclops is to magnify the date, making it easier to read.

A genuine Rolex will have a Cyclops lens that magnifies the date, while a fake Rolex may have a poorly-made or misaligned Cyclops lens. Some counterfeiters may even skip the Cyclops magnifier altogether to save on production costs. Previously, Rolex collectors were able to spot a fake Rolex by a genuine Rolex’s definitive 2.5x magnifying glass, however, this has since changed across some models and the 2.5x magnification cannot be the only way to verify a real Rolex.

However, it’s important to note that not all Rolex watches include the Cyclops magnifying glass. But if you’re looking at a specific model that should, a fake watch may not include it.

3. Engraved Rehaut

Rolex started laser-engraving the serial number on the inner bezel, or dial rehaut in 2005. In 2008, they switched to only engraving the serial number at the 6 o’clock position, as it is much harder to replicate on a fake Rolex.

The rehaut is the inner ring located inside the bezel of a Rolex watch. On a genuine Rolex, the rehaut will be engraved with the Rolex logo and the model and serial numbers of the watch. Counterfeit Rolex watches may have plain rehauts or no engravings at all, which is a red flag that the watch is fake.

4. Movement and Functionality

One of the most reliable ways to tell if a Rolex is real is by examining its movement and functionality. A genuine Rolex will have smooth and precise movements, thanks to its mechanical movement mechanism. Conversely, a fake Rolex may make a ticking sound or have jerky movements when you try to wind or set the watch.

Another way to test the movement and functionality of a Rolex is to observe the second hand. On a genuine Rolex, the second hand should glide smoothly around the face of the watch. If the second hand on a Rolex watch jitters or jumps around, it’s likely a fake.

5. Serial and Model Number Verification

Every genuine Rolex watch has a unique serial number engraved on the side of the case between the lugs. Both the serial and model numbers are crucial pieces of information that can help you determine the authenticity of a Rolex watch.

You can verify the authenticity of a Rolex by researching its serial and model numbers on the official Rolex website or by consulting with a trusted jeweller or Rolex trader.

real rolex lh watch trade rolex trader

Additional Tips for Spotting a Fake Rolex

In addition to the five key things we mentioned above, there are several other factors to consider when examining a Rolex watch for authenticity. Here are some additional tips to keep in mind:

  • Look for the crown logo: A genuine Rolex will have a small crown logo placed at the 12 o’clock position on the watch face, and another one on the winding crown.
  • Consider the model type: While most Rolex watches have certain design elements in common, different models may have specific characteristics that make them unique. For example, the Rolex Submariner has a unidirectional rotating bezel while the Rolex Sea-Dweller has a helium escape valve.
  • Check the date window: In addition to the Cyclops magnifier, Rolex watches also have a date window. On a real Rolex, the date window will be perfectly aligned with the dial, and the numbers will be evenly spaced and clearly visible.
  • Be wary of quartz movements: While Rolex watches are typically powered by mechanical movements, some newer models have quartz movements.

How to avoid a fake Rolex watch

When it comes to luxury timepieces, Rolex is a renowned brand sought after by watch enthusiasts worldwide.

Unfortunately, the popularity of Rolex watches has also led to a rise in counterfeit products flooding the market. To help you avoid falling victim to a fake Rolex, here are some essential tips to keep in mind.

Purchase your Rolex watch from reputable Rolex traders and dealers

The most reliable way to ensure you’re buying an authentic Rolex is to purchase from an authorised Rolex dealer. Buying from reputable dealers ensures the authenticity and quality of your timepiece.

Here at LH Watch Trade, we can not only pay competitive rates for your authentic Rolex watch, but we can also help you find your perfect timepiece, whether a Rolex Submariner or a vintage Rolex.

Research and educate yourself

Take the time to educate yourself about the specific Rolex model you’re interested in purchasing. Familiarise yourself with its features, materials, and details that set it apart from counterfeits.

Study the official Rolex website, browse through reputable watch forums, and consult experts to gain knowledge about genuine Rolex watches. Understanding the nuances will help you spot any inconsistencies or red flags when examining a potential purchase. Of course, it can often be difficult to the naked eye to spot fake watches, but when you know what you’re looking for (and the feel of a real Rolex) you’re less likely to be caught out by replica watches.

How to find a second hand Rolex

Examine the details

When inspecting a Rolex watch, pay attention to the details. Counterfeiters often make mistakes in replicating the intricate craftsmanship of genuine Rolex watches. Look for subtle differences in the font, the spacing of the text, and the alignment of the hands and indices.

Check the cyclops lens above the date window, as genuine Rolexes have a magnification of 2.5x. Additionally, authentic Rolex watches are made with high-quality materials, so examine the weight, feel, and finishing of the watch.

Seek professional authentication

If you’re uncertain about the authenticity of a Rolex watch, consider seeking professional authentication. There are reputable watch authentication services available that specialise in verifying the authenticity of luxury timepieces.

They have the expertise and tools necessary to carefully examine the watch and provide you with a definitive answer. Though this may involve additional costs, it’s a worthwhile investment to ensure you’re purchasing a real Rolex.

By following these guidelines and exercising caution, you can significantly reduce the risk of ending up with a fake Rolex watch. Remember, patience and due diligence are key when investing in a luxury timepiece like a Rolex. The satisfaction of owning an authentic Rolex is worth the effort and will provide you with a timepiece that will last for generations.

rolex trader southampton buy rolex southampton


In conclusion, knowing how to tell if a Rolex is real is crucial if you’re in the market for a luxury watch. By examining features like weight and feel, magnification, engraved rehauts, movement and functionality, and verifying the serial and model numbers, you can ensure that the Rolex you’re purchasing is genuine.

Additionally, there are several other factors to consider when examining a Rolex watch, such as the crown logo, model type, magnifying glass window, and quartz movements.

Finally, it’s important to be aware of the different types of fake Rolex watches that exist, including replica, counterfeit, knock-off, pre-owned, and even military watches. Use the resources available to you, such as authorised dealers, online resources, and appraisers, to help you determine the authenticity of a Rolex watch before making a significant investment.

Looking for your perfect Rolex?

Knowing how to tell if a Rolex is real or fake can help you to avoid a lot of stress and financial heartache. Put simply, if it seems too good to be true, the chances are it’s a fake Rolex. When you know what you’re looking for, authentic Rolex watches are easy to compare if you’re trying to spot a fake Rolex over the real deal.

Remember, there is a number of ways to spot fake Rolex watches, including:

  • Pay attention to the weight and feel of the watch
  • Listen to the watch, if it sounds clunky, it’s likely a fake Rolex
  • Check out the Rolex serial number
  • Does the mechanical movement sound clunky? If so, it’s likely a fake Rolex

To find your perfect (real!) Rolex, get in touch today.