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Luxury or Lie?

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Having recently attended the NAWCC’s training class on identifying fakes and forgeries the idea of fake watches is front and center in my mind. As the attendees and I immersed ourselves in hundreds of images of real, fake and “Franken” watches (authentic parts from disparate watches), I started to think about the relativity of luxury.

For the most part, the watches that are being faked are higher in the luxury sector. Of course there can be replicas and fakes made of almost any watch, but there is a point of diminishing returns. I mean, why bother making a phony of a watch that retails for less than $1,000? Authentic watches at these levels are attainable by a majority of enthusiasts and any fakes would have to sell for $25-$75 to have a shot at appealing to the emotional necessity of ostensible upward mobility.
Consider the motivations of the fake watch buyer; appearance is everything. The fact that the watch is not real will likely go unnoticed by the majority of their peers, but the famous brand name printed on the dial implies a level of sophistication and wealth that is likely beyond the individual’s reality. The dirty little secret can be well-kept, compartmentalized and even justified within as a harmless self-indulgence, but the fact is these fakes are anything but benign.
The inward and personal effect: Whether bought as a crutch due to a paucity of self-esteem, or as a gift to impress friend or family, owning a fake watch (or fake anything) is a personal admission that you’re just not good enough as you are. With legitimate timepieces of style and decent quality available for as little as a few hundred dollars, buying a fake Omega, Rolex, Breitling, Panerai or any other brand is clear indicator of a lack of self esteem, and likely self respect. If the watch is destined for your own wrist and you like the instrument look of a Breitling, or the bold presence of a Panerai, there are plenty of options in branded watches that cultivate similar looks at a wide variety of price points.  They may not carry the cachet of those well known brands, but you can keep your sense of style and self respect intact when you choose the real deal. Matters are even worse if the fake is a gift. Looking to impress Uncle Albert with a brand X fake? How impressed will he be when the watch falls apart, fails, or needs service and the watchmaker informs him that he owns a worthless clone? Fakes can also be confiscated by the legitimate trademark holder. I can assure you that Uncle Albert will not be pleased to receive a letter informing him that he will not be getting his false product back.
Downstream: Buying a forgery is not a victimless crime. Putting aside the idea that the authentic brand’s own business may be affected; which is open to argument – and by that I am inferring that the low-price forgery sale was never likely to land on the receipts of the real deal. The money spent on fakes filters its way back to a variety of illegitimate enterprises that ignore laws, domestic and international. You can use your imagination as to the working conditions at these factories as well as envision what other various enterprises these types of individuals and groups are involved in.
Bottom line: Whether new or used, buy the real deal. As the Fondation de la Haute Horlogerie (www.hautehorlogerie.org) says in its ad campaign; “fake watches are for fake people.”  
Its AboutTime (To Get Real),

Gary George Girdvainis