Replica or counterfeit watches can be a tempting idea. Why save up for years for a $10,000 Rolex when you can quickly get a replica for much less? But are there any issues aside from that it is illegal? Can you service replica watches?
In general, watchmakers do not service replica watches. Many think it’s unethical and that replica watches have unknown quality and serviceability. There is also no repair manual to consult. However, some smaller shops may probably consider it, provided that you are honest up front.
In this article, we will explore whether you can service replica watches, why shops generally do not service them, and additional questions about replica watches.
But keep in mind that replica watches are illegal, and by purchasing one, you may run afoul of the law. Plus, you may be supporting criminal enterprises with your money.
Instead of replica/counterfeit watches, consider a homage instead – it’s much more ethical, moral, and legally safe.
ALSO READ: What Are Homage Watches?
Why Most Shops Do Not Service Replica Watches
Watchmakers do not service replica watches, as it may be beneath their dignity. Replica watches have unknown quality. There is no repair manual or recommended consumables to use with the watch. Watchmakers also do not want to damage their relationship with the original watchmaker.
Beneath Their Dignity & Ethics
Watchmakers spend years, even decades toiling away on their desks with the magnifying glasses to hone and perfect their skills as a watchmaker. Many are also certified by associations and professional bodies, and they take pride in their achievement.
They work hard their whole life, and their skills should be applied to service great watches that are original, not replica watches.
Many think that asking them to service a replica watch is beneath their dignity, and they would reject such requests outright.
Many watchmakers also do not think it is a moral thing to do to service replicas. If they start servicing replicas, they indirectly tell consumers that it is ok to purchase a replica since watchmakers will work on them anyway.
Serving a replica watch also means supporting criminal enterprises. Many watchmakers also cannot see themselves doing this.
Some are downright hostile to replicas and fakes. In their service contract, some watchmakers mention that if they discover that the watch is a replica/fake, the watch will automatically be destroyed and not returned to the owner.
Watchmakers also typically reject servicing replica watches as they are of unknown quality.
When a watchmaker opens up a genuine watch, he can see what movement is running inside and instantly knows how to work on it. His years of experience will come back. He can quickly diagnose problems and help rectify issues to improve the movement.
But when a replica watch is opened up, the watchmaker has no idea what movement he is working with. Often replica watches are generic movements with finishing added to make them look like the original. Still, they certainly do not function like the original.
With a replica movement, the watchmaker has no repair manual to refer to understand the movement, nor is he able to draw from his years of experience to help service it.
Therefore, watchmakers cannot guarantee if they can service the watch well, nor can they confirm that the watch will run well for a long time once serviced.
Parts and Consumables
Another issue with replicas is that sourcing watch parts and consumables may be complex.
Replica watchmakers often do not produce additional spare parts to help watchmakers repair their watches. As a result, watchmakers do not have a proper place to source spare parts to service watches.
Watchmakers often have to either salvage the original part in the replica or make do with parts that he thinks may work.
Considering the size of a watch’s movement, a mere difference of 1mm can cause issues with the watch’s performance. This means the watchmaker has a very minuscule margin of error when using parts that ‘he thinks may work.’
To further complicate matters, when servicing the movement, the watchmaker may not be able to know for sure which consumables to use.
For example, the watchmaker might not know what oil or grease to lubricate the movement. There are no repair manuals to consult.
Relationship With Original Brands
Lastly, watchmakers turn down servicing replicas as they do not want to damage their relationship with the original watchmaker.
Many watchmakers either work with authorized dealers of watches. They themselves could be appointed dealers as well.
The word ‘authorized’ means they are trusted by the watchmaker and the general public to only offer genuine, original watches at their dealership. This also extends to servicing, that they will only service genuine watches.
Imagine how their relationship with the original watchmaker will turn if they decide to take in replica watches. Do not be surprised if their reputation goes down the drain and all their dealership licenses are pulled back.
Will Some Watchmakers Still Service Replica Watches?
Small mom-and-pop style watchmakers may consider servicing your replica watch since repairing a replica timepiece is probably not illegal in certain jurisdictions. However, it is essential to be honest about this and tell the watchmaker upfront.
If you walk-in and ask if they can service your replica watch, Often these watchmakers need to at least see the inside of the replica. This helps them have an idea of what they are working with before deciding whether they even want to take your watch.
Expect to be flatly refused many times before finding one that may even consider trying. Be prepared to be judged and shamed too. Such is the price you have to pay for getting a replica.
Do Rolex Service Replica Watches?
Rolex does not service replica watches. Rolex also does not service any Rolex watch with non-authorized third-party parts and accessories. In fact, Rolex may just make a police report on you, and you might be in legal trouble for possessing a counterfeit product.
Can you service replica watches at Rolex? Rolex does not mention on their service FAQ what they do when a fake/replica watch is discovered within their service network.
However, do not be surprised that they may immediately destroy the watch or send it to the local police. They may also pass on your details as the person who sent the watch in for servicing.
If that happens, you may find yourself on the wrong side of the law and possibly be in a world of pain.
Why Do People Buy Replica Watches?
Replica watches are much cheaper than the original, sometimes hundreds of times. Replica watches are also cheaper to maintain and can be discarded if no longer working. Some original watch owners buy replicas to wear and keep the original safe at home.
Replica watches appeal to many for a multitude of reasons. One of that is incredibly cheap. A super-clone Rolex Submariner may be available for a few hundred when the original costs more than $10,000.
And that’s even if the watch is available to purchase. Classic black-dialed Submariner has such a long waiting list people are shopping for it on the secondary market instead.
Replica watches are also a lot easier to maintain and, in some ways, can be treated like a beater. Since they do not cost much, many will just buy, wear the watch until it breaks and no longer works, and discard them.
They then go ahead and buy another new replica to wear.
Some also never thought about the question “can you service replica watches”, and just buy a replica since they are cheap.
Some original watch owners know the value of their own watch and hence do not wear them in public, lest they become robber magnets.
They instead buy a replica and wear the replica watch, keeping the original safe at home.
How Long Do Replica Watches Last?
There are no set dates on how long a replica watch may last. This is because replica watches come in vast levels of quality. A replica watch’s longevity is also dependent on how they are worn – they are more likely to be damaged from shocks or magnetism than the original watch.
Some replica watches are nothing but cheap copies. While some are high-quality super-clones that are as expensive as middle-range watch brands such as Hamilton or Tissot.
Some use cheap generic movements, while some use a proper movement from Japanese or Swiss makers. They then alter its outward appearance to look like the genuine watch it replicates.
Some watches may have functional pieces inside the movement, such as a properly functioning shock absorber or magnetism negater inside the movement, while others don’t.
Therefore it is hard to tell how long a replica will last, which is a price you pay for not purchasing the original. There are no guarantees on the longevity and serviceability of the watch.
Where Are Replica Watches Made?
Replica watches are made all over the world. However, Swiss Customs estimated that over 40% of the world’s counterfeit watches originate from China. Some of the world’s most high-quality ‘super-clone’ replica watches are from China.
It is estimated that over 30-40 million counterfeit watches are put into circulation every year worldwide. Brands such as Rolex, Omega, Cartier, and Gucci are the top four most counterfeited watches.
Rolex, in particular, is very well targeted by counterfeiters as their watches have very high demand, to the point of Rolex itself being unable to fulfill the market.
Rolex is also a very well-known brand that any person, when asked to name a watch brand, would probably be able to name Rolex and perhaps Seiko.
Rolex also has an image as a ‘status symbol,’ meaning anybody that wanted to tell the world that they are rich would buy a Rolex. This includes those that wanted to ‘look rich too, but they picked up a replica instead.
Counterfeit watches may be sold in the back alleys, all the way to open-air markets in Asia and the Middle East. Online stores are growing for replica watches as well. Often replica watches are sold widely in locations where intellectual property rights are less enforced.
Should I Buy Replica Watches?
You should stop buying replicas as they are illegal and unethical, and you are supporting criminal enterprises. Replicas are also hard to maintain and service, and you might be able to lie to others, but you can never lie to yourself that what you have on your wrist is a fake watch.
Instead of buying a replica, just be honest with yourself and purchase a genuine watch within your budget or consider a homage.
You will feel so much better and prouder of yourself as you are not sacrificing your morals and ethics just because you want that piece of luxury on your wrist.
If you can’t purchase a Rolex Datejust, you can still rock a Tissot PRX and get respect.
You can also consider a homage. With a homage, you will get a watch that looks similar to the original but does not pretend to be original. This makes homage watches legal, serviceable, and much more respectable.
ALSO READ: What Are Homage Watches?