Few things are as disappointing as spending thousands only to acquire a counterfeit Patek Philippe watch! The brand is globally renowned for its excellent designs, intricate details and movement, making it one of the best watchmakers ever.
But as the Maison has produced only about a million timepieces since its inception in 1839, people who want to buy a Patek Philippe often turn to the pre-owned pieces because new ones are almost impossible to get hold of. Another thing that has happened is the rise of counterfeit Patek models.
The premium quality, high demand and limited production make the Patek Philippe watches prone to forgery. The market is inhabited by several fake Patek Philippe watches, deceiving eager watch buyers to fall into the trap. Imagine a situation where you head to sell your watch only to discover that you own a duplicate Patek Philippe model.
Well, the good news is a few tell-tale signs can help you distinguish a fake from an original Patek Philippe watch.
Here are the 8 things that you should check right away.
1. Check the Reference Number
If you’re in the market to buy a Patek Philippe watch or already have one, look for your model’s reference number. This will help you understand the style, materials, size, strap, dial colours, bracelet options and movement of your watch and give an initial idea about how it should be.
Quick Tip: The reference number has letters that tell what material the case is made of.
- A – Stainless Steel
- G – White Gold
- J – Yellow Gold
- P – Platinum
- R – Rose Gold
2. Case, Metal, Proportion & Finish
- Case – Counterfeit Patek Philippe models generally have thicker cases to accommodate the fake or poor-quality movement inside.
- Metal – A genuine Patek timepiece is crafted from precious metals like gold, steel or platinum and is often adorned with jewels, intricate engravings or patterns. On the other hand, a fake watch is made of cheap materials. Moreover, they are coated or painted to resemble the precious metals that usually wear off over time. Check the edge of the case to find out the purity of the metal.
- Proportion – You should also check the proportion when assessing a Patek Philippe watch. The lugs and case edges should be proportionate.
- Finish – All Patek Philippe watches have exceptional hand-finishing and decoration. The materials are superbly polished, adding great lustre to the timepiece. Again, if you find anything not finished to the highest degree, it is most likely a replica.
As said, Patek Philippe has a strong reputation in watchmaking, and hence, the brand pays great attention to every detail, including the engravings. All visible engravings must be seamlessly executed. You can use a magnifying glass if you feel the need.
4. The Crown Is Important
The crown is one of the most significant indicators of a fake Patek timepiece. The crown of a real watch is etched to perfection, and even under the magnifying glass, it appears perfect. If you see it blurry or spotted, it’s not real.
5. Look over the Dial
A genuine Patek Philippe dial does not just tell the time but is a marvel of craftsmanship, representing the brand’s rich legacy. The dial is made of precious materials and is adorned with intricate details and patterns that are almost impossible to copy.
Check the following details:
- Font size (A forger often uses bolder or bigger letterings to make the dial stand out)
- The edges of the hands must be straight
- The lume paint should be seamless
- The hour markers should be straight
- The dial text should be sharp
- The dial decoration should be immaculately finished
- The spacing & alignment of the dial elements should be proportionate
- The logo should be at the centre
If any of the said things is missing, you are probably holding a duplicate model.
6. Weight of the Watch
With all the precious metals and materials used in making a Patek Philippe timepiece, it is only obvious that the watch feels heavy on the wrist or when held in the hand. On the other hand, materials used in a duplicate model are of poor quality and lack the density of precious metals.
7. Check the Movement (If Possible)
You should check the movement inside only when you know how to take off the case back. Otherwise, taking your watch to a professional to inspect the movement is best.
The movement of Patek Philippe watches is a work of art. A real Patek movement is made using the finest materials and the latest technologies that work in perfect harmony to tell a reliable and accurate time. The level of craftsmanship that goes into making the movement is unmatched. It is hand-finished and decorated. Therefore, if you find any sloppy edges, flaws or crooked decorations, you know what it is.
Other things to check include:
- The ‘Patek Philippe’ engraving on the inside of the case back should be sharp, perfectly spaced and proportional. Fake versions have poor-quality engravings, making them appear blurry.
- The brand never uses blue screws in its movement or anywhere in the watch. If you find one, it is surely a counterfeit.
8. See the Bracelet/Strap
When you assess your Patek Philippe’s bracelet, check whether or not it has the appropriate heft. The colour and finish should be correct, and the links should be perfectly aligned. The metal bracelets are either made of steel, gold or platinum and have the name Patek Philippe printed on them along with the model number. The deployment clasp features the company logo and the Calatrava Cross.
On the leather straps, you’ll find the Calatrava Cross printed inside, with the logo appearing on the clasp.
What should you do?
Sometimes, fake Patek Philipe watches are made with such precision that it gets difficult to differentiate. The best way to ensure you get the REAL deal is to buy your watch from a reputed seller. You can also opt for pre-owned Patek Philippe watches from reliable sellers.
Now that you are armed with the right knowledge, you can confidently make an informed purchase and own a true masterpiece!