To the untrained eye, a counterfeit designer watch may be indistinguishable from the real thing. If you are in the market for a Cartier watch, you know that they are an investment timepiece. With authentic Cartier prices starting in the thousands, your first clue of a fake might be the price tag. If you can't help yourself around a deal, at least take the time to learn the common mistakes counterfeiters make so you can avoid wasting money on a fake.
Check the price. Prices for real Cartier watches start at around £1,300. If you find one online or in a store for a few hundred dollars, it's unlikely you just got lucky and stumbled upon a great deal. If you are convinced that good fortune lead you to a £130 Cartier, pay with a credit card and take the watch to an authorised dealer for verification. If the watch is not real, you can return it, or dispute the charges through your credit card company if the store refuses to refund your money.
Feel the weight of the watch in your hand. A true Cartier watch will have more weight to it than a cheap counterfeit. The materials used to make expensive designer watches are heavier and of higher quality than those used to make knock-offs. If the watch feels chintzy, it's probably not the real thing.
Wind the watch and examine the winder. A real Cartier will wind easily and smoothly, and will have a cabochon stone set in it. Fakes often don't wind easily and, if they have a stone, it will be glued on to the end of the winder rather than set in an actual setting. Cabochon stones are rounded and highly polished, so if the stone has clear cuts in it, you can assume it's not Cartier.
Verify the style of the numbers and the shape of the hands. Cartier is known for using Roman numerals on their watches. The hands of a real Cartier watch are usually blue steel and shaped like swords.
Look at the movement of the watch. If the seller won't remove the back of the watch to show you the movement, they are probably not an authorised seller. Authorised dealers are specially trained to open up the watches without breaking the waterproof guarantee.
Once open, the movement of the watch will have Cartier engraved on it. If it doesn't say Cartier inside, the watch is not authentic.
Check the spelling. Counterfeit products often contain spelling errors. Make sure everything is spelt correctly. Ask to see the certificate of authenticity, which can also be falsified, and check that for mistakes, too.
Check for luminosity. Ask the seller if the watch you are looking at is supposed to be luminescent. If it is, shine a bright light on the watch face for a moment and then cup the watch face in your hands. Look at the watch in the dark of your hands, or in a dark room, and make sure the watch glows. The glow should be even and last a long time. If the luminescence seems patchy or goes away very quickly, you may be looking at a fake.
Test the quality of the glass face with water. Wipe the face of the watch with a damp finger. The water should bead up on the face if it is sapphire-quality glass, a sign of an authentic Cartier. If it doesn't bead, it's likely not a real Cartier.
Shop only at authorised dealers or Cartier boutiques. The best way to protect yourself from a counterfeit Cartier watch is to buy from authorised sellers. Call 1-800-CARTIER with any concerns. You can give them the serial number of the watch in question and they can verify its authenticity. They can also direct you to an authorised dealer for verification.