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  • Writer's pictureGaz

Replicas - Paying tribute or Funding Terrorism?

Image: Replica Yacht-Master

Ok, maybe my title is a little on the extreme end but we have all seen the ads and heard how “Buying fake goods funds terrorism”. I’m certainly not going to get into the logistics of all of that in this blog post. I only bring it up because recently I was with a few friends (keeping our distance) and, as usual, talk turned to watches. After the initial ‘what’s on your wrist’ we got on to the Coronavirus, the economy and watch goals (in that order) when one of the guys in the group smiled proudly and claimed he was now the new owner of a Submariner (ref 114060) and a Panerai (REF: PAM00352). Obviously, we probed more and when talk to turned to price he proudly announced that he got both for less than £1500…. Yep, A Sub and Panerai for £1500! Let’s get into it.

Full disclosure, I still haven’t seen either of these watches so I can’t speak to their look, feel or ‘quality’ but as you can imagine the talk quickly turned to fake watches and the black market. Mostly, we were all just asking “Why?!?”. As a group we all like to think we are enthusiasts first and we appreciate watches regardless of cost, brand, craftsmanship or segment. We all tend to look positively on all watches so it was strange that one of us would spend so much money on items that aren’t even real! I think we were more confused than anything and just needed to know more.

So, these particular watches were purchased from China and paid for though Western Union (which is dodgy in itself). This is NEVER a good idea and, had the seller wanted to, he could have simply not sent the watches, kept the money and my mate would have been…. Well… F*@ked!

Image: Replica Submarina

It took around 8 weeks for the watches to come and from the photos, they look like genuine watches. But as I sit here and write this a few weeks later I still find myself baffled at how he could spend so much money on two items that aren’t real. Worse than that, we don’t know what they are, what movements they have or how long they will last. The whole thing is just one big gamble.

Now, I think it’s only fair that I include my friends’ side of the story. I was honest and told him that this was definitely going in the blog so it seemed only right that he gives his opinion. He said;

“Basically, I got so sick of dealing with AD’s and jumping through all their hoops. You can be the world’s greatest watch enthusiast but, if you don’t have a previous purchasing history with dealers or aren’t willing to engage in dodgy practices (buying two watches) then you’re f*@ked. You can walk in to any AD with the cash in your hand and still not get the watch you want. On top of that, you can wait and wait for a watch and after a few weeks on the wrist, you may find it’s not for you. But, if you want to sell it they don’t even give you the papers. I basically saw this as a much easier way to get the watch I wanted, wear it for it as long as it lasts and, while I’m wearing it, I can still be on a wait list for the real thing which I know I won’t want to sell when I finally get the call."

To be honest, I can see how it’d be frustrating jumping through the hoops and waiting for your grail watch, especially if you have the money ready. Additionally, if you aren’t a regular spender then your chances of being first on the list of a new watch is slim. I think for my friend it’s a mixture of frustration and impatience. He still aims to fill his collection with genuine pieces and is still on the wait list for those watches. In the meantime, he’s happy (well, content) to buy fake watches while he waits.

Image: Replica Panerai

Personally, while I can empathise, I don’t agree with his decision and this certainly isn’t a practice I would partake in. For me the risk is far too great and there is no way I could send over £1000 to a stranger in China and hope they would send me an item with no financial protection or guarantee. Also, for £1500 I could pick so many other watches I would rather have than going with a fake. I actually write a blog talking about a £500 budget. If I found myself so desperate for a new watch I’d go for something cheaper…and real.

Image: genuine Hamilton khaki Field

And this leads to an important point. Your level of happiness depends on you. There is no item on earth that will make you truly happy. Sure, your excitement levels may peak a little when something is new and novel but, after a time, the appeal wears off and your happiness returns to normal. This is the same if you buy a watch that says Patek Philippe, A Lange & Sohne or a Casio. The brand of your watch will not increase your happiness or joy. You may feel a greater sense of achievement but your initial excitement will always return to a baseline. It is far more important you find happiness within yourself and see anything else as a bonus or sense of achievement, But not the cause!

When it comes to fake watches and making the decision to buy one I would personally urge you to stop and think. Take a breath and before you send your hard-earned money off to distant lands with no guarantee you’ll receive anything back. Ask yourself why having something on your wrist that says Rolex or Panerai is so important to you. In most cases, no matter how good your fake watch, watch enthusiasts are a savvy bunch and it won’t be long before your watch is outed as a fake anyway.

I think it would be far better to turn up wearing a genuine G-Shock Mudmaster or Longines Classic Heritage. I would even argue a Kickstarter project would be better to fund. You get a brand-new watch from an up and coming company and you get in on the ground floor. Most Kickstarters come with a great story too. It’s where I found my Eone Bradley. I loved their reasoning for making the Bradley and went all in on their first offering. I got a great watch and I actually felt like I was investing in their journey. Even today when I see a Bradley I think “I was first in on that”. And they certainly don’t cost £1500!

Image: Eone Bradley

Sure, if you are in the market specifically for a luxury watch, I can certainly see how it’d be annoying waiting for that particular piece. That being said, if I found myself in a position where I would risk sending money to a stranger and hoping they honour our - let’s be honest - dodgy arrangement, I think it’d be far better to jump on Chrono24 and get a used piece and pay the premium (if it’s a Rolex) for getting it quicker, even without box and papers.

Thankfully my friend touched lucky and did receive the watches he paid for. But, if you were looking for my personal recommendation I would say steer clear! In my opinion, you’d be better off going to a trusted authorised dealer, buying a watch used from somewhere like Chrono 24 or just buy something else! The latter being the cheapest, safest and probably the easiest option. For the cost of a fake, you could buy something so much better and it doesn’t have to be a Rolex, Patek or AP. I feel you’d be better off treating yourself to a great field watch, a classic digital, a well-cared-for vintage piece or even a daily beater watch. At the very least you’d get a warranty (not if you went vintage – obviously). You’d have a great watch and, in my opinion, you can’t put a price on peace of mind!

Hope you enjoyed this one! Thanks for your time and see you in the next one!

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