A fake watch, also known as a replica, or a counterfeit watch, is a watch that is done to look like an authentic watch, made by the official brand. But instead, the watch is manufactured by a different company, usually in Asia.
In the watch world, replica watches are highly controversial. And for good reasons. First and foremost, fake watches are illegal in almost all jurisdictions, and secondly, it greatly damages the watch market and the brands that the watch is trying to replicate.
What is a replica watch?
A replica, or counterfeit watch, is a watch that is manufactured to look like the real deal. Only that it is not done by the brand that is trying to imitate, and it is done to be perceived as the real deal. Most counterfeit goods are today manufactured in Asia due to the low cost of production there.
Replicas exist for essentially all types of products. They are most common for luxury goods that are meant to be expensive and sought-after. In general, the more sought-after and well-known a luxury brand, the more common replicas of that brand’s products is. In the watch industry, Rolex is the most commonly counterfeited watch brand, which can be explained by the brand’s superior brand recognition and prestige within the watch industry. But other commonly faked watch brands include Omega, TAG Heuer, Breitling, Hublot, and many more.
For some, a replica becomes an alternative due to its cheaper price. But apart from the fact that they use the original brand’s logo and design, a fake and an original cannot be compared.
About Fake watches
Since Switzerland is home to most luxury watch brands, Swiss watch brands are most commonly counterfeited. According to the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry (Fédération de l'industrie horlogère suisse) ”Tens of millions of fake Swiss watches are offered for sale every year, while the Swiss watch industry produces around 30 million original watches. Fake watches account for 9% of customs seizures, placing watches second only to textiles as the most counterfeited products.”
Moreover, the Federation estimates that the counterfeit watch industry is worth an estimated 400 billion dollars annually. The sales generated are astronomical.
Reasons not to buy a fake watch (replica)
There are many good reasons why you should think twice before you consider buying a fake watch. A counterfeit watch is a theft of intellectual property and is the root of a large number of issues. Let’s have a look.
1. Counterfeit watches are illegal
The first ad most obvious reason not to buy a fake watch is that they are illegal. In most countries, it is illegal to buy or sell fake watches. In other countries that are stricter against counterfeiting, it is also illegal to own and wear a fake watch. As such, you may be fined if you are caught wearing a fake watch. If you want to stay on the right side of the law, never buy a fake watch.
In Switzerland, where counterfeiting laws are particularly strict, importing a counterfeit watch is forbidden by law. So is buying a single timepiece bought in good faith for the purpose of private use.
2. Replica watches harm the watch brands they replicate
One of the biggest threats to the watch industry is the damage that counterfeit watches have on the brands. Essentially, fake watches drain brands of their substance, harm their reputation, and have a greatly negative effect on their brand value.
Some people justify buying fake watches by saying that ”I cannot afford to buy the real deal so I will buy a fake instead”. But those who say that have never thought about the reason why they want to buy that original watch in the first place.
One of the key reasons we humans want to buy rare, exclusive, and luxurious products is because of their brand reputation, their strength, and the fact that they are regarded as luxurious and prestigious. If an endless number of people are seen wearing these products (albeit fake, but many people will never know the difference), it will devalue the brand and ultimately cause people not to want to buy the original product. They see that everyone is wearing them and ultimately, it makes them less desirable. One of the key values of luxury goods is that they are rare, exclusive, and not worn by everyone.
3. Counterfeit watches threaten jobs
Counterfeit watches threats jobs. As mentioned, fake watches seriously damage and harms the brands that they replicate. And in the long term, it will ultimately damage and threaten the jobs of these manufacturers. This is as opposed to supporting honest organizations that give their employees fair working conditions.
Instead of the money going into a fair job market, the money goes into the pockets of criminal organizations which often abuse their employees.
According to the Swiss Federation, counterfeiting contributes to the loss of more than 200 thousand jobs worldwide and 100 thousand jobs in Europe. This means that governments lose out on tax revenue which can otherwise be reinvested into the local economy and society.
4. Replicas often support criminal organizations
Oftentimes, fake watches are manufactured by criminal organizations which, time and time over, has been found to be linked to drug trafficking, extortion, money laundering, human trafficking, and more. When you are buying fake watches, you are ultimately financially supporting criminal organizations and their activities.
As the Swiss federation states, our behaviors as a consumer is what is the most central in the global counterfeiting issue. If people stop buying fake watches, organizations will stop selling them.
5. Counterfeit watches are manufactured by people under poor conditions
Swiss watch brands are known to offer their employees some of the best working conditions and fair wages. The same cannot be said about counterfeit organizations, however.
The manufacturing of fake watches is often associated with child labor, exploitation, and forcing their workers to work under difficult and unethical conditions. The workers are usually paid derisory wages.
When you are buying a replica, you’re essentially supporting this means of doing business and these unlawful organizations who care only about profit.
6. Replica watches are dangerous to the future of luxury watches
Counterfeit watches take advantage of and exploit the know-how and astronomical investments that luxury watch brands invest in developing and creating new products.
Ultimately, luxury watch brands invest millions, if not billions into the research and development of new products. This is done to reap the reward further on.
Counterfeiters exploit all of these important investments and give nothing back to the companies responsible for the innovations and the know-how. If luxury watch brands aren’t seeing the returns that they expect from their large investments due to the damages caused by counterfeiting, their investments in innovation will stop. This will ultimately damage jobs, but more importantly, damage the watch industry as a whole.