It’s Alive? Sorta. Avoiding The Frankenwatch
Watches are a fun pricey hobby and occasionally a good investment, and even the mid-range ones are becoming more popular and collectible, so naturally, more attention is being paid to creating good fakes as well. One fake strat is the creation of the “Frankenwatch”, comprised of some number of parts off of real watches that were not otherwise repairable, with shoddy movements or the like.
I remember the first time I recognized a Frankenwatch in the wild: it was a two-tone Rolex Submariner with a flawless dial, but something about it just seemed… off. The weight, maybe. Eventually I checked the bezel which made some odd number of clicks, like 40. Sony guts, perhaps.
This handy little list was published by the Financial Times today and we thought we’d share it here as a PSA so FakeWatchBusta will never be able to bust you:
Top tips for avoiding a Frankenwatch
1. Do not be seduced by the name on the dial — a particular brand name does not mean it is authentic.
2. Check that the case/dial/hands configuration was ever made by the manufacturer. Brand-specific internet forums can be helpful.
3. Beware of anything that claims to be a prototype.
4. Pay attention to signed parts of the movement and compare to authentic examples. Differences in colour, finish or engraving style will be a clue.
5. All parts need to tie together seamlessly; with a Frankenwatch there are usually compromises.
6. Watches built from age-correct parts culled from a number of the same make and model to create the perfect example may be impossible to spot and even regarded as acceptable. The difference between restored and “Frankenwatch” rests on whether the changes are disclosed.
Adrian Hailwood, director, Fellows, watch auctioneers