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Getting burned by a fake vintage watch

By on 8 April 2010 in Watches

Getting burned by a fake vintage watch
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We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: when it comes to buying vintage watches, you buy the seller, not the watch.

Did everyone get that? Yes, Straight-Six paid lip service to that same advice when he traded in his entire collection for two vintage Rolexes, but they were both recently declared completely kosher by a Rolex Service Centre, thank God.

In any case, this sad tale marked the first time a passionate watch collector of almost 40 years got burned by a fake watch that turned out to be too good to be true. And it was he who introduced Straight-Six to vintage timepieces…

Straight-Six’s hair-dresser is the main protagonist in this story, having owned dozens of fine watches over the years – including no less than three 6263 Paul Newman-dialled Daytonas – he only recently reentered the world of watches after a hiatus of several years. Yeah, he couldn’t afford to collect for a while there. But he was kind enough to introduce Straight-Six to the merchant who sold him his three vintage pieces, while the hair-dresser picked up a delicious 6205 for himself.

During a recent visit, a beautiful vintage Patek Philippe Calatrava appeared from under the hair-clipper’s sleeve. The piece was oohed and aahed over and when it was revealed it was bought from a friend of a friend’s for a mere €3,000, much pleasure and admiration spouted forth.

Too good to be true? It was indeed. The vintage watch merchant became suspicious when he listened to the sound of the crown turning. The piece was immediately brought to an independent specialist who opened it up and confirmed it was a fake. Value? Nothing at all.

Turns out the friend of the hairdresser didn’t know the seller that well and, well, the rest is history. And while the photo accompanying this story is a bit harsh, all you watch lovers would do well to remember the above lest you wear the hat yourselves…

You’ve been warned.


Getting burned by a fake vintage watch

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: when it comes to buying vintage watches, you buy the seller, not the watch. Did everyone get that? Yes, Straight-Six paid lip service to that same advice when he traded in his entire collection for two vintage Rolexes, but they were both recently declared completely kosher […]

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Straight-Six had a proper job as a journalist for Dow Jones before lowering himself gently into the warm, forgiving waters of The Guide. He’s our resident fanatic: he relished detailing his BMW M3 for two full days at a time before crashing it at Eau Rouge in the wet; he spends insane amounts on his home-cinema system and has thrown tens of thousands of euros at vintage Rolex sports watches. The little fool simply does not understand the concept of restraint or the meaning of excess. He also – following a legendary "heavy" lunch – once nibbled (yes, like little dogs do) a dear lady friend of ours.

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  • zaradzki

    It is definitly a foly to buy a vintage watch from someone you do not know enough or who is not established for long enough.
    Best to test them on lesser value item I guess or to insure you will be able to claim a refund.
    Personaly I dont buy without being able to see the mechanism for myself. Of course this does not prevent you from buying a frankenwatch…

    stan @

    visit my blog @

  • The Prodigal Fool

    The real moral to this story is that you’re paying far too much for your haircuts if your barber can afford to blow 3k on a Patek – fake or otherwise – not to mention the three Paul Newman Daytonas!

    And I’ve seen your hair, it’s not even that nice…

  • Pingback: Will vintage watches go up in value in 30-40 years?()

  • Straight-Six

    Fortunately, my hair-dresser is also a modern art dealer. His salon doubles as an art gallery!

    • The Prodigal Fool

      If he’s making so much money trading art, you have to wonder why he’s still cutting hair. Unless of course he just enjoys running his fingers through men’s hair…eh, ah, yep, OK. Back to watches.

  • sell my rolex

    It’s important to do research before you sell your time piece. Vintage watch has higher value . Here are some tips to avoid fake rolex watch.
    # Authentic Rolex watches never have a manufacturer eng raving of a logo, design or Rolex name on the outside of the caseback. The only exceptio n to this is the Sea-Dweller which says “Rolex Oyster Original Gas Escape Valve” on the back in black along with two Rolex logos.

    # Genuine Rolex models are free of engravings on the caseback, therefore they are smooth (however, there are some ladies’ models with engraving on the caseback).

    # More recently, some genuine Rolex models were shipped new from the factory with a 3-dimensional, Hologram-encoded sticker on the caseback with a floating Rolex crown positioned above the watch’s case reference number, which is now printed in black. Most fake stickers are a solid green color or are actually a re petitious “Rolex” pattern, not a hologram.

    • The Prodigal Fool

      Thanks for stopping by and for your tips about how to avoid fake Rolex watches.

      I have another one to add: If the price sounds too good to be true. It is.

  • Anthony Fabiano

    Verify, verify, verify….and then one more time! And, remember that the counterfeiters have to cut corners in quality MFG standards in the areas that are not visible (under a flip lock, back inside of the buckle, the endpiece area hidden by the case lugs) …they skimp on the process in the hidden areas. On your wrist, the high end fakes will be visibly unflawed with the naked eye so take a 10x loupe to the normal focus points (stamps, hallmarks, aperatures, bracelet hinge pins etc), but more importantly to the “out of site, out of mind” surfaces and you will see a broken promise to quality.

    • Straight-Six

      Anthony, that’s spot-on advice.

      And it’s what my sweet hair-dresser should have looked for before buying the piece. This said, it was a very “simple” design Calatrava on a leather strap, so it made the job that much more difficult. It’s easier to find everything you’re looking for when the watch has a metal bracelet, for sure.

      But yes: verify, verify, verify and only buy from a reputable and trust-worthy dealer. They’re definitely out there, but there is a ton of shit to get through to get to them…