Oct 26, 2017

Counterfeit watches on auction sites

I saw a nice-looking watch on Yahoo Auctions today, but then noticed that the same watch was showing up as a recommendation. They were both bidded up to about $100 or $200. I checked at Jomashop to see how much I might want to bid, and was surprised to see the thing at $6,000 or so there. The watches are IWC Portuguese Chronographs (one has the blue hands) -- feel free to bid, I'm not going to touch them. I hadn't realized that these were such iconic watches, but now knowing that, I wondered: Fake? There are actually pages online on how to tell a fake Portuguese from a real one. For such pages to exist is not a good sign, although the Yahoo watches seem to not have the telltale signs of fakes. The photos are conveniently just blurry enough for me not to be sure. And the fakers may have upped their game. And (here's where I get really paranoid) the fakers may have made the "how to tell a fake" pages.
So I read the descriptions. One is a Little Old Lady from Pasadena story about buying the watch a couple of years ago from a famous Ginza jeweler (which is named, as well as the date of purchase). The watch was a gift for a family member, but was just too darned heavy and wasn't worn. She took it and had an extra hole punched in the band and wore it a bit, but now wants to sell it.
The other seller is a gentleman who bought it a couple of years ago from a famous Shibuya jeweler, also named. He loves it, but dang, he needs money for a new business venture. His photos are also just blurry enough to not see the watch as clearly as you'd like.
Each posting has the box, warranty, manual, etc. pictured. The stuff seems complete and legit looking, but each is different, with the documents being different in size, wording, etc. One had a document from the jewelery shop. So maybe it's not fake? Maybe it's an even more sophisticated con? They bought one or two real ones for the photos but ship you the fakes?
The auctions are from two different accounts, with no feedback. And the two auctions were posted 13 seconds apart. Very suspicious, except how do you even do that unless you have two windows open at the same time? And why wouldn't you stagger the auctions to avoid their being simultaneous?
At any rate, I've learned that it's probably a good idea to avoid buying watches at auction that are in demand or famous or expensive. Twenty dollar bills are counterfeited, but nobody counterfeits a nickle.

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I was following one of these auctions, and I just got an email from Yahoo Auctions saying it's been canceled. Someone had bid it up to about $1,500. then poof, gone. There was a mention of the guidelines. I searched and all the Portuguese watch auctions, about a dozen, are gone. I guess Yahoo is on the ball.
Yahoo closed down its auction site many years ago. Which site are you referring to?
I live in Japan. Auctions.yahoo.co.jp is the Ebay of Japan. When word leaked that Ebay was planning to enter the Japanese market in the late 1990s Yahoo famously put a skunkworks team on the job of making an auction site in record time. They beat Ebay to market, EBay launched later, and quickly folded. The online auction business is winner take all. There are a couple of specialty auction sites for stuff Yahoo doesn't allow, like samurai swords, but otherwise Yahoo Auctions is a monopoly.
Interesting. I didn’t know this. Thanks for the information.
I just did another search on "porutogiize," and there seems to be more than a dozen up for auction, most at $50 to $300 now, but one guy has set a minimum of about $3,500, and a pawn shop has one up with a current bid of nearly $3,000. I'm not sure I'd trust a pawn shop to tell a good fake from a real one, but one thing is sure: for some reason these are really popular watches in Japan.
When you have a stainless steel watch fetch $17.7m, it will bring out the criminal opportunists trying to capitalize. And the level and sophistication with which they will operate is uncanny, and the quality of some of the watches is close to fooling even watch makers.

My buddies at Rolex have seen some fakes come in that they said were phenomenal knock offs, and the owners had no clue until service came do, with some effort going into the determination. And some of these fakes are nice watches too, not just some $20 hunk of junk, but actual, well sorted watches in their own right.

I like a deal just as much as the next person, but I stick with a very small group of trusted sellers and friends to source and verify the more expensive pieces. My general rule is if it’s to good a deal to be true, it probably is. I’ve had lots of opportunity to buy really cool, vintage watches, Rolex specifically (1680 anyone?) that literally are little old lady safe finds, but these are still expensive watches, well into the thousands, just not tens of thousands. Deals abound, but I buy the seller with these things.
Counterfeit watches are big business. I've read stories of knowledgeable people not realizing they were fake until their stainless steel starts to peel a few months in revealing it is chrome over brass and the plating starts to peel off.

If it sounds too good to be true it probably is.
Your skepticism is warranted. I doubt either of them are real. And apparently Seikos are also counterfeited from what I've read. While they may not be nickels, they aren't $20 bills. I recently saw an article comparing a real and a fake Breitling Superocean Heritage, and I couldn't tell the difference even when they said how you could tell.
I was looking for a spring bar tool just now. On a page for a Bergeon tool all the comments were that it was counterfeit and broke right away. Good grief! Fake spring bar tools? Can you have faith in anything anymore!
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