Is that Casio G-Shock you have just bought genuine? I hope so. Buyer Beware!
That phrase is as old as time but there is still some merit in it. When we consider fake or counterfeit watches our normal inclination is to think about the undercounter trays full of classic steel models such as the Rolex Submariner or ubiquitous Daytona. How many people come home from a holiday in Greece and surprised family with a £20,000 wristwatch? Quite a few. You can find these watches without too much difficulty in any resort frequented by Western tourists.
A genuine Casio GA-100 - Credit J Jacobs
I have seen fake Rolexes openly for sale on most of the Greek Islands, less obviously in various establishments throughout the Middle and Far East and once, with the right words, at an Oxfordshire car boot sale. Like any counterfeit product quality fluctuates almost beyond comprehension; from frankly ridiculous fakes which are of a design no OEM has ever produced, to a Breitling with the name spelt wrong, and far more worrying accurate water resistant replicas costing hundreds of pounds that are damned near impossible to identify. Even when placed next to an identical real model (trust me, I’ve done it).
True story. When I shattered the sapphire crystal on my non-date 1989 Rolex Submariner ref: 5513 I took it into the Rolex Service in the Gulf country I was stationed. The helpful staff were only too keen to take a huge amount of money off me for the service and repair but asked me if the watch was genuine. “Can’t you tell?”, I asked perplexed. They then proceeded to advise me that the copies readily available in this city were of an exceptional quality and no, they couldn’t always tell. Also there was always the chance that had I been gifted this watch or bought it via the huge local pre-owned market, and I had unwittingly been sold a fake.
The offending fake case back - Credit WatchGecko
As I was working with the local police I was fortunate to see a seized counterfeit Breitling Navitimer which I genuinely would never have spotted as a fake. Not only did the watch look, function and appear totally convincing, it came in what appeared to be a legitimate Breitling box with all the correct paperwork. I also handled a Rolex Submariner that had accurate case stampings when the bracelet was removed along with accurate crystal, holograms and rehaute engraving. On both watches the lume was the correct colour and worked well plus I was assured that the Rolex was 50m water resistant so you could swim with it. It too came in a “real” green Rolex presentation box with paperwork.
Above is a brace of late 1980s Rolex GMT Masters - which is genuine? Answer at the end of the feature.
As I am sure you will have gathered from the title of this article, I have recently experienced a sting from a fake watch. Thankfully nothing as drastic as a Rolex purchase that proved to be a fake. This copy was so good that it took an amateur Casio expert to advise me of the problem when he spotted the watch photographed in a WatchGecko Magazine feature.
The watch in question is a white Casio GA-100 G-Shock which I was given as a present from a family member. It was purchased from a well known online auction website from what appeared to be a legitimate private watch dealer who had several new models available. The watch was a little cheaper than it would have been in a Casio G-Shock retail shop, but not enough to raise alarm bells and the assumption was that an online dealer would charge a little less.
I had enjoyed wearing the watch, so much so that a friend bought one on my recommendation. All the functions worked exactly as stipulated in the Casio manual. My white rubber started to stain a little, which I thought was odd, but I was pretty rough with the watch so did not really give it much thought. I looked online and there were so many comments and suggestions about how to re-whiten Casios that I assumed it was a common problem. The off-white colour never detracted from the enjoyment of the watch.
The counterfeit Casio GA-100 now confined to gardening duties... Credit WatchGecko
Until the watch featured in an article I was blissfully unaware that something was wrong, until a Casio expert advised me very tactfully that the watch was fake.
How did he know? Apparently there were two tell-tale signs which highlighted the watch was a copy. The first was a small gap around the outer ring which a genuine Casio does not have and second my case back protruded a little too far allowing it to accommodate a cheaper, larger, clone of the real Casio module. If you have two GA-100s in front of you it is not easy to spot these differences. Unless you are an expert a watch in isolation is almost impossible to identify. My watch came in what appeared to be a genuine Casio G-Shock tin, with paperwork and even a swing tag with the correct technical details, model number, and price on it.
Of course I was frustrated when I found out that the Casio was a fake but I felt more for the family member who bought it for me. I still have the watch, but it has now been relegated to my summer gardening watch, and true to the label, I can’t seem to destroy it – an irony which amuses me.
I did try to find the seller on the auction website but there is not so much as a spring bar left as evidence to suggest they ever existed.
None of us should be afraid to buy pre-owned watches or new models from independent dealers where credibility can be verified. But equally if a deal seems too good to be true, it probably is. The uneasiness comes from the fact that I think I am pretty savvy in the watch world and I was duped by this Casio. It never occurred to me it could be fake as it looked a felt fine and all the functions worked perfectly. However the deficiency with the watch would really have become apparent had I jumped into a swimming pool as the watch will most certainly not be water resistant.
Obviously I would put a lot more consideration and analysis into the possible purchase of a privately owned £3000 used Rolex but the fakers know that so they focus on the lower end of the market. I was advised by the expert that the internet is saturated with watches like my G-Shock. There are even fakes the iconic sub-£10 Casio F-91W! Seriously, why would you fake a watch I bought for £7.99?
So what’s the morale of this story? Perhaps just to highlight the number of unscrupulous sellers out there and to reinforce it is worth putting in that extra layer of scrutiny when you are buying online from an unknown source. If any readers have similar stories and would be happy to share please drop us a line and we may well summarise some in a follow up feature. Together I am sure we can raise awareness and work to put the scammers out of business.
GMT Answer: Neither watches were genuine.
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