This is the most important rule to follow if you want to avoid buying a fake luxury watch

Picture this: You’re browsing online, looking for a luxury watch. You stumble upon an amazing deal for the watch of your dreams — half off the price it is normally. The website looks legit, but…

Stop what you’re doing. You’re about to buy a fake watch. The most important thing to remember when buying a luxury watch is this: In timepieces, as in life, if it seems too good to be true, it probably is.

“Let’s say that you’re being offered a watch, and the price is way below what those auctioneers are getting,” Timothy Gordon, a generalist appraiser and a consulting expert for the global online marketplace Lofty, told Business Insider back in 2014. “Ask yourself, ‘Why is it so low?’ If a beautiful Cartier sold at an auction house for $100,000 and you’re being told $50,000, question why you’re getting such a good deal.”

Of course, a high price isn’t a guarantee of authenticity. Counterfeit watches are a $1 billion industry. Fakes have become increasingly sophisticated, and some watches you can only tell are fake by taking it to a watch expert and having them look at the movement inside. Some even use real gold, like the models they replicate.

Some other tips that a watch is obviously fake:

  • Missing numbers.
  • Logos that are misaligned.
  • Loud ticking sounds coming from the watch.
  • Any sign of poor craftsmanship.
  • The watch is noticeably heavier or lighter than it should be.

Many of these can only be tested in person, which is by far the recommended method of buying a high-end watch. If that’s not possible, the next-best thing is an online store authorised by the brand of watch it sells.

The good news is that if you go to the right place, a fake might not be that easy to come by. Most fakes are sold with a wink and a nod to people who are actually looking for fake watches at substantially cheaper prices than a real one might cost.

“Pretty much the only chance you have of accidentally buying a fake watch these days is via a transaction with some private seller who claim ‘not to know whether a watch is real or not,'” Ariel Adams writes in Forbes. “Fakes are mostly on the wrists of people who know they are wearing fakes.”

They want these replica models for the status these expensive watches provide, without the hassle and financial sacrifice of getting the timepiece for real.

Shop at a reputable watch dealer, and you’ll likely have no issues with fake watches. Stray in search of a better deal, and you may just get burned.

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