Real vs Fake
A Panerai watch conveys a certain image: active, flamboyant, adventurous. Many who view themselves that way would love to wear a visible symbol of their lifestyle for the world to see. Most, however, can’t afford the $5,000, $10,000 or more it would require.
That’s one big reason for the enormous popularity of replica Panerai watches, which can be purchased for a fraction of authentic models’ retail prices. Another reason is the huge profit potential in selling fake Panerai timepieces as genuine; authorities have linked the production of counterfeit luxury watches, a billion dollar per year business, to organized crime operations in Russia, China and other nations.
One man’s profit is often another’s loss, and many have ended up big losers by purchasing watches which they thought were the real deal but were really counterfeits. It’s easy to make that mistake; many of the firms (mostly Chinese) which manufacture these timepieces now spend a great deal of time perfecting the look of their fakes and use the same machinery as prestigious Swiss watchmakers. It’s so difficult to differentiate between these replicas and the genuine articles that a new name has been coined for these next-generation counterfeit watches: “superfakes.” Base Panerai models are particularly susceptible to being copied because they don’t have a date window, which can be difficult to replicate properly.
Authorized Panerai dealers, of course, can tell the difference – as can the experts at Luxury Buyers. We deal extensively with all Panerai models, from vintage Radiomir watches to the very latest Luminor GMTs, because we regularly purchase them for prices well above the levels other buyers can pay. If you have a Panerai which you’re “not quite sure” about but would be interested in selling it if it is indeed authentic, we would be pleased to provide a free appraisal and a firm offer to purchase. The service is free, confidential and secure; please contact us at any time to take advantage.
If you have no desire to sell and are just looking for pointers on how to spot a fake Panerai watch, we hope this rundown will be of assistance.
“Buy the Seller”
This advice has become a cliché among watch aficionados, but as with most clichés, it’s repeated so often because it’s true. “Buying the seller” simply means to spend as much (or more) time vetting the person trying to sell you a Panerai as you spend checking the watch itself.
This was a lot easier to do when the only people trying to pass off counterfeit watches were dealers at questionable pawn shops or low-end jewelry outlets, or people who set up shop on Canal Street in New York City (or similar areas around the country) where sketchy street vendors gather. Today, even reputable jewelers can be fooled by superfakes and the Internet is full of people pushing fake Panerai watches on sites ranging from eBay to auction sites to luxury watch messageboards.
So “buying the seller” has become more important than ever. It can involve detailed investigations into the vendor’s reputation, online ratings and references, and in-depth questioning of the seller to see whether they can answer key questions about the watch and its provenance. But more often than not, it can be accomplished by checking your own radar. Ask yourself if it’s plausible that the person offering you a great deal on a Panerai really owns the genuine article, and be honest with yourself despite your deep desire to acquire a luxury watch. And remember that no one is going to offer you a legitimate Panerai for a few hundred dollars or probably even a few thousand dollars, for any reason. If the price is way below what you’d expect to pay, it’s because you’re buying a fake.
Check the Design
With so many accurate replicas on the market, the best way to spot a fake Panerai is to look at some of the small design and construction features on the timepiece. For example, counterfeits will usually have a thinner and smaller-than-normal crown, which may tilt instead of being perfectly straight. The crown lock (which is the handle that lifts up to allow access to the crown) on a fake may not open and close cleanly, may be misaligned or the wrong size, and may be of lower quality than the rest of the watch.
If the watch has a strap it will be real, high-quality leather or crocodile on a legitimate Panerai but is often poor quality or simulated leather on a replica watch, with machine stitching instead of hand stitching. The strap buckle should be attached with a screw rather than a bar and should be rounded with perfect, smooth edges; Panerai uses only solid precious metals or stainless steel, so a gold-plated buckle will be a tipoff. Also look at the name on the buckle to make sure it is engraved and not laser-etched, and that there is a tiny reference mark as well as the company name. If the watch has a metal band, the sturdy surgical steel should appear perfect, with individual links which interlock rather than being attached by pins.
If the watch is a fairly recent model, it should have a coating on the crystal to prevent reflection so when you tilt the timepiece it will look clear. Many counterfeit Panerai timepieces will appear to have a blue or purple tint because of a cheaper coating process. If there is a date window on the face, the magnifier should be integral to the watch, not glued onto the crystal. Inspect the watch face to look for poor-quality engraving or stamping, as well as any misspellings, poorly spaced words or features, and check the back of the case for the same problems. The best procedure is to find an online photo of the watch you’re considering and do a side-by-side comparison, to make sure all of the printed or engraved elements are as they should be.
Spend a Little Quality Time
An authentic Panerai will glow brightly for many hours after being exposed to light, even when left in the dark for a long period of time, due to the Luminova used on the dials (on older watches, it’s Tritium). Fake Panerai watches try to imitate this feature but almost always fail; if you have the luxury of being able to spend a little time with the watch, lock it in a closet overnight and see if it’s still glowing when you wake up.
We at Luxury Buyers have seen many counterfeits over our decades of experience, and can spot a fake Panerai watch immediately. When you’re ready to considering selling your Panerai, we can tell you with 100% certainty whether you have a counterfeit or the real thing, and will make a top-of-the-market offer for any authentic Panerai timepiece.