Counterfeit products have gained popularity and exposure in the past few years. Cheap watch suppliers, replica designer clothing, branded shoes and many more products are available easily in every country. With more merchants using the brand name, the cost of the branded items have increased drastically over time. The original product sometimes costs at least 5 to 6 times more than the illegal counterfeit.

According to the Swiss watch industry, 15 to 30 percent of the internet searches on watches are looking for counterfeits instead of the original. The replica watch market costs the Swiss watch industry billions of dollars each year.

Source: TechMagnet, YouTube

The authorities confiscate these watches after a lot of effort and destroy them through demonstrations for the public to see. The most watched demonstration was a public destruction of thousands of illegal watches in the year 2010 when about 7,000 Rolex watches were run over by a steam roller in front of journalists, camera men and the culprits were sent to jail for a mere six months.

7000 Fake watches destroyed by a steam roller!
Source: Forbes

The Rise of the SuperFakes

As technological advancements occur, the watches industry has now seen a new entrant into the counterfeit market, known as the “SuperFakes”. This is a new breed of a fake watch that due to hight-tech manufacturing and 3D printing is often indistinguishable from the original piece. These SuperFakes are made by their manufacturers in pennies but are later sold for thousands of dollars making a fool out of first time collectors and sometimes experienced resellers too who cannot tell the difference due to high quality production.

How do Counterfeiters Make SuperFake Watches so Realistic?

  1. They choose a watch than can be easily re-designed

The watches being copied are fairly easy to redesign, for example this Panerai Luminors watch is copied to quite an extent, the original one on the left, would be indistinguishable from the fake on the right to the untrained eye. Only small clues such as the thickness of the hands and the quality of illumination would give away the fake, but not every customer would be able to tell the difference.

Can you tell the difference? 


2. The inside of the watches are ‘Beautified’

The inside movement of the SuperFakes is beautified with extra logos and unique additions to an otherwise simpler movement as seen below in the photo. These changes are made to confuse buyers with thoughts such as “would a watchmaker like Panerai put in such a boring, simple movement in to a $10,000 watch?”. In reality the actual watch does not have repeating logos or any additions as seen below.

3. Counterfeiters are using 3D printers during manufacturing

The exact replicas to some extent are only possible with the help of a 3D printer, fake watchmakers are able to create unique cases of metal sintering and CNC machines using powerful, high resolution 3D printers. However minute details cannot be copied even through a 3D printer such as the finish, it is not achieved and neither is the exact precision of the features. However, at one glance many people may be unable to differentiate between a replica and an original.

People who purchase replica watches are mostly running after the status symbol that comes with wearing such a luxury brand which they cannot afford at its original price, and this is what keeps fuelling the counterfeit watches market worldwide.