Of course there is a vast difference between a homage watch and a blatant fake. As an example take the Steinhart Submariner which is a nice watch in the spirit of a 1970s MOD Rolex Sub but it does not try to be a knock-off and is sold under its own brand name and is clearly branded Steinhart - see above.
The problems surrounding fake military watches as opposed to homage designs like the Steinhart has become increasingly serious in recent years. The problem was highlighted by a friend who contacted me to say he had seen a Rolex military Submariner in a Los Angeles jeweller for $16,900 a few years back which would have been a major result as they sell for anything up to $200,000! although it looked nice when he sent me the images I thought it looked pretty real although the price of course didn't make sense, he was almost fooled that went back the next day with someone he knew who had experience of Rolexes and immediately saw a few giveaways. You only have to Google “Rolex military Submariner replica” to see the problem and vast numbers of fakes appear so clearly it is not difficult for someone to buy one and then try and age it a bit and maybe then palm it off to some unsuspecting buyer online or perhaps at a watch fair. The problem recently is some watches are already artificially aged or made to look more accurate such as the Rolex fake below.
There is some interesting information regarding how these watches are faked by butchering an original Rolex and attempting to turn it into a military pattern Rolex this link is well worth a look
Fortunately the guy that runs this website was savvy enough to realise something wasn't quite right and do some digging and he was lucky that he didn't end up out of pocket. The amount of people that we come across who have paid some serious money for what they believed to be a genuine military watch that then turns out to be 100% fake is extremely disturbing. People are now starting to fake even relatively cheap military watches such as CWC and MWC as we will explain elsewhere on this page.
When I was in Hong Kong I saw some CWC G10's being sold, the fact of the matter remains they don't cost a fortune to produce but there is an increase in the value over a basic watch.
The Rolex military Submariner is what James Bond would have worn in the late 60s, early 70s and the Rolex model designation is 5517 . In the early 1970s Rolex supplied the 5517 to the British Ministry of Defence (MOD). These watches have military serial numbers abd a Crows Foot or or Pheon on the back, there is also an encircled T on the dial to denote the use of Tritium. The other difference from the civilian version is that case bars are fixed and not the removable spring pins on the civilian model this limits the strap options to the NATO military strap.
Watches of the era when these were made used acrylic, plastic crystals versus the sapphire crystals used on modern Rolex models. These watches were delivered to the SBS or Special Boat Services, formerly the Special Boat Section and Special Boat Squadron, a special forces unit of the British Royal Marines and formerly also of the Army Commandos and Special Air Service. Many Rolex enthusiasts and military watch collector’s have a few specific models that they would like to own such as the IWC MKXI or a Jaeger-LeCoultre MKII Navigator, but nothing gets close to the Rolex British Military Submariner (Model # 5513/5517). These watches are one of the most counterfeited of the collectable Rolex models, and some are so good that even major auction houses have been fooled on occasion, so be extra careful with his one. The fakes which are pictured here as I'm sure you are likely to agree are frighteningly similar to the genuine item.
One of these watches from 1978 was recently sold for £165,000! See
Although an original Royal Navy Rolex Submariner costs a huge amount of money demand just seems to keep increasing this link is well worth a look https://www.collectorsquare.com/en/watches/rolex/submariner/ref-rolex-5517/lpi - an option might be the Pro Hunter below.
In respect of the Rolex Submariner and there are some very nice images here and also a useful video below http://gearpatrol.com/2014/03/18/icon-rolex-military-submariner/
Of all the military divers watches the Rolex 5513/5517 commands a higher price than anything else hence the number of fakes.
I'm sure a lot of people would ask themselves the question why would someone seek to copy a CWC or MWC? The answer is actually quite simple, if you make a non-branded watch which is an unknown brand it will not sell for very much money but if you brand it with the name of one of the known manufacturers the whole thing suddenly becomes significantly more profitable. Whereas the seller might be hard pushed to get $75 or $100 for an unknown watch the moment it's branded MWC it might hypothetically go for $350 or if it's made to appear to be a mechanical heritage CWC remake it could easily go for $700 or more, if the seller is selling large numbers of the watches another consideration is that there is probably less risk than they would suffer if they were trying to copy leading brands such as Breitling or Tag Heuer, the watch above on the left-hand side was sold on eBay and was being passed off as an original MWC and even the case back had been quite accurately replicated.
The problem we all have is that it is hard for the average person to know what is fake and what is genuine, if someone is just starting out collecting military watches or just wants a watch to wear they might easily be fooled. Of course it might be that the fakes are perfectly serviceable but clearly that is not the point and the concern is that the quality will improve over time making them harder and harder to spot.
The Rolex fakes are pretty good already but of course the incentive is potentially there although in reality they tend to only go for $400/$500 on the knock-off sites but with a top of the range CWC G10 at $$405 (£299) and the higher spec MWC G10 300m model at somewhat less it is hard to see how the fakers hope to become wealthy copying these models when it can't be much dearer to fake a more commercial brand with greater marketing potential such as Rolex, Omega or Panerai I think we have to work on the basis that the risk is potentially higher because people are looking for fake well-known brands if they're less known and they are being sold in places like Hong Kong it's less likely that the sellers will get tumbled and the stock confiscated.
If you see a fake watch being sold it would make sense to contact CWC, MWC or any other manufacturer.. Even though eBay take steps to avoid fakes it is clearly impossible to stamp the problem out completely and you will regularly see things on the forums regarding the problem..
The image above shows a counterfeit Rolex British Military Submariner (Model # 5513/5517). These watches are one of the most counterfeited of the collectable Rolex models by a large margin, some copies are so good that even major auction houses have been fooled on occasion! As you can see with this copy even the dial has been distressed to make it look more genuine. Even some of the cases are frequently distressed so they have the appearance of the scrapes and things you would expect to see on a genuine old Sub. The basic problem here is that with the crazy prices being commanded by these watches there is an enormous incentive to make replicas. I suppose the big point here is my fake a modern Rolex when you can make significantly higher margins faking one of these?
There is an auction with a sale £140,000 here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cmm238hcA4s
Some people tend to go to great lengths to modify an old Submariner to create a what appears to be a military issue watch. There are significant difference for example the military watch has hash marks on its aluminum inserts for the full 60 minutes, not just the first 15, like the commercially available Submariner. The phone’s most open trademark is the “Mercedes style,” a pair of large “sword” or “gladiator” hands, and a second hand with an arrowhead tip. In addition, unlike almost all civilian Rolex replica watches , the back of the case was engraved with an inscription – ships used for special ship services (SBS) are marked “0552” before their personal identification number, which was marked “W10” In addition, they kept a special symbol on the dial from the MilSub in the early 1950s. A small letter “T” in the circle above 6 o ‘clock indicates that the original and highly dangerous radium for the hands and indexes has been stripped by the MOD subcontractor Burford and replaced by the safer tritium.
Fortunately CWC tend to be proactive when it comes to enabling buyers to avoid fakes. I was told a few years ago that there are a few fake SBS models floating around in Kowloon so it might be worth being cautious if buying from a high risk location. I suspect this is probably true because having seen the G10's it would be pretty logical that if they fight one watch they would fake another.
The image above shows a fake CWC on the left and a fake MWC on the right you can see that they are quite similar in the way they are constructed, these are both G10 models. With G10 battery hatch CWC watches removing the battery hatch to change the battery sometimes reveals no battery on a fake. This is because the hatch has been put on in the wrong position, making the battery inaccessible. I have been told that the same thing sometimes occurs with the MWC but it does not always mean that the watch is a fake it must be remembered that sometimes when they are assembled after servicing the hatch may not be lined up exactly with the battery or if it's a watch which has had the battery replaced by popping off the case back again they may simply put the case back back on with no regard for the location of the case back in relation to the battery hatch.
You will notice the winder is a bad fit on both the watches above and of course the genuine CWC uses a Ronda or ETA movement as do most of the MWC with the exception of the G1 0LM models which use a different movement the others all tend to use Ronda 705, 715 or 715li, I have no idea what the movement above is but it's clearly unlikely to be comparable to the genuine CWC or MWC.
It seems looking at the images that the various fakers are following a fairly tried and tested formula as with most replica watches.
This URL here gives some good tips regarding fake CWC watches
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