People buy replica, counterfeit, and fake watches for a number of reasons.
For some, it’s to get the look without the luxury price tag. For others, it’s an opportunity to “test drive” a piece before committing to the real thing.
Some also purchase them for more nefarious reasons, such as hoping to resell them as authentic pieces.
But, whether your intentions are pure or not, buying a replica watch is a mistake you can’t afford to make. Here’s why…
1. Buying Replica Watches is Illegal
Make no mistake. Despite their prevalence, replica watches are illegal. They’re considered counterfeit goods.
Logos, names, and so forth are typically trademarked and designs are routinely patented.
“It is illegal to purchase counterfeit goods,” says the US Customs and Border Protection office. “Bringing them into the United States may result in civil or criminal penalties.
Purchasing counterfeit goods supports criminal activities such as money laundering and trafficking in illegal guns and drugs.
Remember, if it seems like a steal, it is.”
2. You Will Get Caught
Many agencies work together as watchdogs for the industry.
US Customs is just one, catching these items as people cross the border. Some wear their items intending not to declare them, while others tuck them away in suitcases hoping they won’t be noticed.
However, the agencies see counterfeit goods all day every day and they’re incredibly familiar with what to look for.
Those who buy replica watches online aren’t safe from legal scrutiny either.
Although the feds have stated you’re probably in the clear if you purchase a single item for yourself, if they believe you’ve purchased with the intent to resell, it’s called “trafficking.”
It is treated similar to drugs and comes with harsh legal penalties.
3. It Could Be Seized
Research presented by USA Today concludes that watches make up the second-largest group of counterfeit goods seized by volume.
Fake watches account for 12.6% of all goods seized by customs, coming in just behind apparel at 15.3%.
However, looking at the value of the items, watches soar above all others with a value of $460,162,145 had the pieces been authentic.
For comparison, apparel sits at just $74,880,617 in goods seized.
Bear in mind, having your fake watch seized could actually be the least of your worries.
The Seattle Times shares a story of a local man who picked up a few for his grandkids on a trip to China.
“Customs agents had no problem with the one on his wrist, but had issues with the other seven they found in his bag, and seized them,” the report says.
The Department of Homeland Security tried a number of avenues to reach the man after, essentially chasing him for months to get him to pay more than $50,000 in fines.
A lawyer interviewed for their piece says the man was lucky. Had the watchmaker gotten involved, the man would have likely had to reimburse the brand $100,000 per fake.
4. It Can Affect an Innocent Buyer
The ramifications of buying replica watches create a ripple effect.
On the one hand, once the piece leaves your wrist, there’s always some chance someone else will mistake it for an authentic piece, and wind up getting scammed because of it.
Moreover, counterfeit goods can impact the cost of authentic goods.
As brands have a reputation to uphold, they not only have to focus on innovative ways to differentiate their products from the fakes, but also have to invest in detecting, confiscating, and prosecuting fraudsters.
That money has to come from somewhere, which unfortunately means brands can wind up charging more than necessary for authentic goods, just to keep the knockoffs at bay.
5. No One is Impressed by a Fake
Obviously, the goal of a replica is to look like the authentic piece, but counterfeit watches don’t always pull it off well.
Seasoned collectors can often catch telltale signs that a piece is a knockoff, which means each time you’re wearing your fake, you’re risking being found out.
Instead of looking like you can afford a luxury piece, you’re going to be perceived as fake too.
6. It Can Cost You Your Reputation
Having your name spoken in hushed tones because a luxury watch aficionado caught your bluff can be pretty rough, but the social consequences for buying knockoffs doesn’t end there.
Because counterfeit goods are illegal, and chances are you will get caught, you’re risking having civil or criminal charges pressed against you.
That means you’ll probably wind up in court and you will have a permanent record if it comes to that.
Anytime someone does a background check on you from that point forward, be it for a new job or something else important, that’s what they’re going to see.
Instead of making a good first impression with a prestigious-looking timepiece on your wrist, you’ll be leading with your record.
7. It Will Not Last
Knockoffs are cheaply made. They aren’t made with the same dedication and don’t have the same heart as a high-quality piece.
Whereas most luxury watch manufactures have a rigorous quality-check process in place for each piece and back their products with warranties, counterfeit watch makers simply focus on the look.
Instead of getting something that can be passed down for generations, you may well get a piece that never functions at all, dies within a short period of time, turns your wrist green, or worse.
8. It Will Not Keep Accurate Time
As noted earlier, knockoffs aren’t known for quality. The best brands invest in precision. In fact, they’ve built a name upon it.
You’ll often hear about how a particular brand set records at the Observatory Trials or won awards for accuracy.
This is because they have engineering teams who truly care about the craftsmanship and reliability of a timepiece.
They create, test, improve, and repeat this process until they have a highly-accurate timepiece.
After that, they repeat the process—sometimes for hundreds of years. When they have something that’s really great, they patent it, so no other brand can legally copy it.
Granted, those creating counterfeit goods don’t care about the patents, but they also don’t care about copying the things you can’t see with your naked eye either, meaning you aren’t going to get an accurate timepiece.
9. Replica Watches Aren’t Water-Resistant
Just as luxury brands invest in accuracy, they also dedicate themselves to ensuring their timepieces are built to withstand the elements.
Their teams home in on which seals protect best and how to craft relief valves and buttons in a way which eliminates potential water leakage.
Again, these elements are largely contained within the case or ore not visible to the naked eye.
Ergo, they’re not important to the counterfeit watchmaker.
Doing something as simple as washing your hands could result in destruction of the timepiece, which means sports, the gym, and even steam or rain could ruin the inner workings or cause condensation inside.
10. You’re Throwing Your Money Away
Knowingly reselling counterfeit watches is illegal, so there’s no value to a piece once it’s in your possession. In fact, it becomes a liability.
When you consider that they’re not accurate, aren’t built to withstand everyday conditions like water, and are likely to fall apart on their own quickly, your knockoff will have to be replaced fast too.
Depending on how frequently you have to replace yours, you may well actually save money buying an authentic timepiece from the pre-owned market.
11. It Damages the Entire Industry
Those who knowingly purchase replica watches feed the counterfeit market and cause it to grow.
That’s bad for the watchmakers and the reputations of the brands, and it’s bad for consumers as well.
With no oversight, faulty and sometimes dangerous products hit the market, which devalues the authentic pieces too.
There are also ties between organized crime and the replica watch industry, meaning those who support it by buying counterfeit timepieces are funding things like illegal weapons and drugs.
Furthermore, child labor is used in many of the factories. In other words, this isn’t some victimless crime as people may try to make it out to be. It’s not just about a luxury watchmaker losing money.
Innocent people are caught in the crossfire when replica watches are made and purchased.
Get an Authentic Timepiece at a Great Price
The good news is, you don’t need to buy replica watches to get a good deal.
At Value Your Watch, we’re building a thriving online marketplace that supports sellers and makes it easier for collectors to purchase high-quality authentic timepieces in a safe, transparent, and affordable way. If you’re collector with pieces to sell, consider becoming a member and list your pieces without listing fees or high commissions. Our monthly membership packages offer a simple and cost-effective way to sell, whether you want to relieve yourself of a single piece you no longer wear or have gotten into flipping. If you’re looking for a new timepiece, browse our ever-growing selection of luxury watches now.