Holiday scam!

Posted on: 20 July 2011 by 50connect editorial

How to spot a fake Rolex at a hundred paces...

Fake rolex

Jetting off for some summer sun this year? As well as lounging on a beach or catching the rays by the hotel pool, you’ll probably want to see some of the local sights. This may well include a trip to a local market where local produce, handmade gifts and jewellery will tempt you. You might also be tempted by the promise of ‘real’ designer watches, bags and jewellery which would usually cost much more back home – but you know what they say, if it seems too good to be true, in this case – it definitely is.

Rolex watches can sell for anything from £1000 to £50,000, so it’s unlikely that £50 watch you’ve spotted on the beach is the real deal. Not only could you be sold a dodgy watch, but you could be seriously out of pocket. 

Don't break the law

  • Buying fake goods in the UK may not be an offence, but in many foreign countries it most definitely is.
  •  In France, the maximum fine is 300,000 euro (£260,000) or three years in jail for buying illegal goods.
  • In Italy, police can impose a 10,000 euro (£6,620) on the spot fine for anyone buying fake goods. 
  • And even if you avoid the authorities abroad, the UK borders agency is likely to seize your goods when you return home. 

Some of the more obvious tips for avoiding fakes include:

  • Avoid street vendors - they certainly won’t have licenses to sell designer goods! 
  • Make sure your purchase comes with official, branded packaging, which includes a warranty and a receipt.
  • Take a very close look at what you’re buying. If it’s a designer item the quality will be impeccable and will have special wrapping, bags and receipts. 

Of course, you might well spot a fantastic bargain for that Rolex watch you’ve always wanted, or the Pandora bracelet your daughter’s been asking for, in what looks like a reputable shop. If so, we’ve compiled a few things to look out for:


  • Real Rolex can only be scratched with a diamond - we don’t recommend attempting to scratch a watch in a shop or on a market stall, but if you spot any scratches on the item then it’s definitely a fake! 
  • Check the date window - on a real Rolex it’ll be centred exactly above the number and the numbers will be printed perfectly with no fuzziness or odd spacing.
  • Watch how the second hand ticks - on fakes it’s always jerky.
  • You shouldn’t be able to see a Rolex logo above the ‘Swiss made’ logo on the face- real Rolexes have this etched in such a way that it’s only visible with a jeweller’s magnifying glass!
  • Check the side - you should be able to see a case and model number at six o’clock and 12 o’clock.


  • Most new Pandora bracelets and charms are marked with the letters ‘ALE’ plus a 925 on silver items or a 585 on gold items - if you can’t see it, don’t risk it.
  • New jewellery will carry the Pandora crown symbol, but if it’s pre 2008 it won’t have one.
  • Genuine Pandora jewellery should only be sold by certified retailers such as John Greed Jewellery - the fact is, if you’re in a local market it’s highly unlikely that the seller is genuine.
  • Take a detailed look at beads and inspect the quality - lots of copy-cats hand paint glass beads themselves, which means you’ll be able to see that the paint is raised in places. If so, it’s a fake! 
  • Give the silver ring inside the bead a good feel - if it’s at all loose or looks tarnished, it’s not real.

Thanks to John Greed Jewellery for their guide to buying jewellery abroad, the standard rule is if their selling it on the street for a margin of the price, it probably isn’t real. The same goes for perfumes and clothing and more importantly cigarettes and alcohol, if it looks dodgy, wait for the duty free in the airport you’ll still be getting a hefty discount.

Happy  holidays!

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