by: Amani Liggett
When one hears the words “replica luxury watch” the first thing the generally pops into mind is a comical image of a shady guy in a trench coat trying to sell a replica Rolex on the street. But it is not necessarily a laughing matter; these illegal copies of authentic watches cause an estimated one billion dollars of losses each year to the watch industry. The Swiss Customs Service estimates that up to 40 million counterfeit watches are put into circulation every year. So with each purchase of a counterfeit watch, consumers are not only hurting the legitimate watch industry, but also slowing the global economy, as well as participating in criminal activities.
The most common fakes are made to resemble watches made by Rolex and Brietling, big names in the luxury watch industry. But there is also a huge replica watch market for the popular brands Chanel and Gucci. About half of these counterfeits are made in China and sold to tourists. However, a fair amount are made in America and moved across the country to be sold out of car trunks along with fake purses and wallets. Many websites online actually boast the authentic look of their fake watches, and insist their product is better and more reliable than other replicas.
There are two main types of counterfeits on the market, one is by trademark violation and the other is by design violation. A trademark violation watch will copy the brand name or symbols of a legitimate watch. It also includes any false claims like “Water/Shock Resistant” or claiming to be made of gold, silver, or any other precious metals. Oftentimes, replica watches will have a few legitimate parts, such a leather straps or gold buckles to fool potential customers. A design violation is when a counterfeit is designed to look like an original, such as using the same model as a Rolex or Audemars. Both of these types of counterfeits are illegal and production can result in jail time.
As Valentine’s Day approaches, and many feel their purses tightening, the temptation to wow your significant other with what they think is a genuine Chanel or Bvlgari watch is probably quite hard to resist. The risk factor, however, is not truly worth the gain. Especially if your girlfriend finds out that Gucci watch she has been showing off is a fake! Best to stick with a modest but classy watch for Valentine’s this year.