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.