Information compiled from Retail Jeweller UK, Rolex and expert opinion.

In this day and age, it is often difficult to tell the difference between a counterfeit watch and a genuine article. The new counterfeits coming out of factories in Korea , China and Thailand are known for their attention to detail and their higher quality. In fact, the common sales pitch at Patpong (an entertainment and bazaar street in Bangkok , Thailand ) is that the watches come from the same factories that produce the genuine watches. They are therefore the same quality but at a fraction of the retail price. That's not quite true of course, but herein lies the question: How can you tell if it is the real thing?

A sure-fire way of telling the difference is by feeling the watch rather than just looking at the detail. If you suspect the watch is fake, feel the case for poor finish and sharp edges. It may also feel cold, light and “tin-like”, whereas the genuine brand feels smooth, solid and heavier and of much higher quality. On a fake watch, the bracelet or strap will usually also be of inferior quality. The spring bar may even fall apart when you change the bracelet or strap.

The most commonly counterfeited watch is Rolex. If the case is extremely well made, the easiest way is then to observe the movement of the seconds hand. The movement in the fake version is generally quartz so the seconds hand ticks every second. On a genuine Rolex, the movements are mechanical and the seconds hand “glides” rather than “ticks”. Fakes also tend not to have the model numbers engraved on the case at 12 o'clock and the serial numbers at 6 o'clock . If the watch does come with a number, you can phone Rolex to check that it is genuine.

A watch that may be an original Rolex may also have been altered. Rolex considers these to be fake because altered watches lack quality, have low grade diamonds, poorly set stones and in general, a poor finish to the alterations. If the original paperwork is available, this can be checked with an ultraviolet light to show the Rolex security markings.

Rule of thumb: When in doubt, err on the side of caution.