Confession time! I’m no watch expert but I have been collecting watches for over 10 years and have handled many amazing creations. I love mechanical watches. To me these are pure art. It’s the sheer OCD excellence of the Rolex production facility and it’s the finishing on a Patek. In this world where everything is electronic and digital, I love to have a timepiece designed and made by human hand. Weird I know, but that’s just me.

Sadly, this is a true story ☹

My watch loving / knowledge ego took a serious hit a while back when I was completely taken in by a fake Patek. For my sins I used to work in the Aerospace and Defense sector. This industry is flooded by a host of pretenders, whose claims of influence can be impossible to verify until it is too late. By that time you have spent a lot of time and resource in developing these relationships, making these errors costly from a career and bank balance perspective.

I was introduced to a man from South Korea. He claimed to be President in waiting and that he was significantly well connected and wealthy. He attested that he was a key advisor to VIP’s in the Middle East. I was shown various forms of proof and my company checked him out using various channels. One of the key persuaders for me was his gold Patek Philippe Nautilus 5712. This is a beautiful watch and the story of how he was gifted it by a certain person was compelling.

I handled the watch. It felt amazing and to be honest I wanted to knock him over the head and run away with it!

To cut a long story short it turned out that he was a complete fake. He certainly was of means, but had zero influence or real contacts. What really shocked me was that afterwards I found out that he had paid $2,500 for his 100% totally, completely and utterly fake Patek. And I had fallen for it, big time. In fact, had he had offered me the watch for $20k I probably would have bought it.

A very good friend of mine works in one of the top watch retailers in the UK. Their store is flooded on a daily basis with customers who travel from Asia to purchase high end watches. The store employs many Asian staff to promote easy communications and a lot of the marketing info in the store is in Chinese. So why do so many travel to the UK and Europe to buy their watches?? Is it cheaper to do so?? Actually, it is a lot more expensive. The reason is counterfeit product.

My friend was telling me that the quality of the counterfeit items they see is significantly increasing year on year. It way beyond looking for the hologram at 6 or the laser engraved rehaut. Recently they were examining a Royal Oak and the only give away was the fact that the screws hadn’t been blued correctly.

The reason so many Asian customers travel to the EU to buy their watches is that they know that if they go into an AD in Europe the product will be real. This is apparently not the case with many AD’s in their home countries, and hence the extra expense is worth it.

The real question is who is taking the money in their home countries?? It is the AD knowingly purchasing fake product or is it in the supply chain.

It’s one thing when the fakes are objects of desire or hope. Like the $50 fake Rolex. The purchaser can’t afford the real thing so there is some flattery in the purchase of the fake. It demonstrates desire on the purchaser’s part, a yearning for the real thing.

But, when the fakes become indistinguishable from the real thing. When an experienced retailer who has handled thousands of watches needs to take a watch apart to tell the difference, this is when the industry is in trouble.

Thank you for reading 😊

Charlie Sherlock.