The differences between an authentic Rolex and a cheap, fake Rolex are easy to identify. Now that counterfeiting watches has become more sophisticated, it is more difficult to tell the obvious differences between a real Rolex and a quality fake Rolex. If you want to guarantee that a Rolex is real or not, take the watch to a Rolex watch worker, who can open the back of the watch case and identify the authentic Rolex movement.
Look at how the second hand moves around the dial. With a Rolex automatic movement, the second hand seems to glide across the dial without ticking. A cheap fake Rolex will have a second hand that obviously ticks and does not glide. A quality replica will probably have a second hand that ticks fast, so it has the appearance of gliding. Look closely at the second hand to find out if it is ticking.
Feel the difference in weight between a real Rolex and a fake Rolex. A real Rolex is made of gold or steel and the links are sold, whereas a fake Rolex is made of a light weight metal with hallow links. A real Rolex will feel heavier than a fake one.
Locate the serial number on the Rolex. A fake Rolex will not have a serial number. On Rolexes made in 2005 or newer, the serial number is etched into the inside edge of the watch case at the 6 o'clock position. On older Rolexes, the serial number is located on the outside edge of the watch case where the watch band meets the watch case. To view the serial number, you will have to remove the side of the watch band at the bottom of watch at the 6 o'clock position.
Check if a piece of glass or a Sapphire Crystal covers the dial. Water beads up quickly on a Sapphire Crystal, which genuine Rolexes and some expensive replicas have, but water smears or beads poorly on glass. Sapphire Crystals are also scratch resistant and more durable than glass.