Fake Swiss Watches Reach New Levels of Sophistication

The Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry told swissinfo.ch this week that fake Swiss watches from China are more difficult to spot than ever. Long gone are the days when you could tell a fake by obvious imperfections such as a poorly aligned dial or cheap materials. Now even a replica's wristband is picture perfect and you might need a magnifier to spot a microscopic fault.

"The counterfeiters have now mastered ultra-complex movements,” says Michel Arnoux, head of the anti-counterfeiting unit of the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry.

This kind of counterfeiting does far more than diminish a brand's appeal.

“Counterfeiting costs the watchmaking industry billions each year,” Nick Hayek, head of Swatch Group, recently told the 20 Minuten newspaper. “The worst thing about it is that these copies are being made more and more professionally.”

Demand has driven counterfeiting but so has a policy of restrictive supply.

To combat the growing threat, the industry federation now has a team of 50 Chinese inspectors on the ground but its unclear if they will have much impact or the authority to stop the contagion.

Categories: Swiss Watch News.

Comments (4)

  1. malingerer

    the Swiss need to start driving technological leap, ala spring drive or the new Cartier ID Two Concept Watch, and bring it to market quicker than later.. if they don’t they’ll soon be usurped by the enterprising Chinese.. where, if the Swiss were honest, allot of components are most likely sourced. How do you think they (the Chinese manufacturers) got the abilities to copy so well? They’ve done it in many industries and are no attacking a VERY high margin and relative low cost (of goods) consumer market segment.

  2. Les Kovacs

    The problem with Chinese watch makers not only that the copies are “microscopically” the same as the originals but it is much cheaper to buy, and enthusiastic watch collectors with less money snap them up. Mostly for the design look of the original which is at most cases overly expensive. The Swiss makers should have a business policy that after releasing a limited number of the models in one year have a second run of the same models also in a limited number a year or two later, with ample advertising for the enthusiasts emphasising that it is the second release therefor less in price as well. So they will know that the value to own a second release watch is less walue, but worth the money.

  3. That’s bad news! Surely there must be a way to tell them apart!

  4. David Barker

    In respect to Chinese fake watches, I have noticed through observation that the Chinese are able to copy any expensive watch brand, within two weeks of its release. The Chinese have high profile buyers who wait for companies such as Tag Heuer and Hublot to release their new watches on to the market. These buyers purchase the new watch and take it directly to Hong Kong. When it arrives at their facilities the watch is disassembled and laser scanned. This includes the entire movement. Once the watch has been scanned, they can mill the watch parts using their CNC machines and reconstruct an EXACT COPY!

    The Chinese have enough experience in working with Swiss watch companies to know how to match parts, materials and colours.

    I would strongly disagree with Swiss Watch Industry that Chinese copies somehow affects their profits in some way. Those who cannot afford a genuine watch will never be able to buy an exclusive watch anyway. However, I do not endorse the buying of any fake watch, nor do I endorse the fake watch industry.

    The only way this problem can be combated is for all countries to agree on an international law for the seizer of all fake watches which are sent through the post. The Chinese government must also agree to find and fine all Chinese companies producing replicas.

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