Monday, July 18, 2016

Guest Post: "What’s In a Name? - War of Words" (Adam Harris)

UPDATE (September 2016):

The NAWCC has issued a press release highlighting Adam Harris' activities as a horological educator and his interest in counterfeit luxury watches:

The following post was written by Adam Harris who I mentioned in my Independence Day post, Watches' Luxury or Lie: Pawnbrokers Learn to Identify.

 It expose and amplifies the semantic difference between terms that respected, legitimate luxury watch manufacturers use to characterize their products, i.e. "genuine" (the real thing) from the distorted use of the term, "replica" that the counterfeit trade has co-opted and likes to apply to represent its timepieces.

Mr. Harris was kind enough to give me permission to share it. 

For an in-depth interview with Adam Harris and his journey from wristwatch collector and enthusiast to consultant horologist and educator, see Keith Lehman's piece in  NAWCC Watchnews, "Luxury or Lie: and interview with Instructor Adam Harris."   

 It is time to stop calling a “spade” a shovel.  There are two types of watches – “genuine or fake” – “Luxury or Lie™?”

Then why are “counterfeit” watches called “replicas” by the sellers of these “counterfeits”?

1. "an exact copy or model of something.”


1.“truly what something is said to be; authentic.”

Acknowledgement:  Webster dictionary.

Now, as close as these counterfeit (fake) watches are getting to the real article in appearance, and they truly are getting mighty close in appearance with the latest breed of “Ultra Super Fakes™” (my terminology), they cannot under any stretch of the imagination be termed “replicas.”

Genuine “luxury” brands are the epitome of Haute Horology – that is watchmaking at its highest level.

Some cynics may understand it to refer more specifically to high dollar watchmaking rather than high quality watchmaking, but make no mistake.

Designing, developing and manufacturing a new movement is the highest level of “Haute Horology”.  Remembering it took Horologists 107 years just to turn a simple chronograph in a self-winding chronograph timepiece!

It takes literally years for the likes of Rolex to develop the likes of its new “Parachrom™” balance spring, or its new “Paraflex™” shock protection, even adding a blue “Cerachrom” bezel to their new model GMT took years of research and testing!

You see Cerachom (Rolex's own version of ceramic) was introduced on the GMT first in 2005. And for years, we were told that making a two-tone ceramic anything was impossible. But this year, Rolex has gone and built a mono-block cerachrom bezel by a patented process that actually has the bezel start off as completely blue, and while still porous, add the black coloring. So, this isn't two pieces of ceramic next to each other, it's a singular piece, and Rolex is the only brand in the world to produce something like this. It's so difficult to do that it's actually patented.

Acknowledgement: Hodinkee.

There is no way, in their wildest dreams could the counterfeiters develop or to be exact “replicate” these ultra-advanced developments.  Nor can they “replicate” the likes of “silicon” balance wheels used by the luxury manufacturer OMEGA in their in-house 8500 range of calibers.

Therefore the word “replica” as used by these counterfeits' sales companies is not “Haute Horology” but an incorrect play on words.

Furthermore, if we add the after sales service, warranty periods of 5 years, new intervals between servicing of 10 years – then the gap between “genuine” and “replica” (fake/counterfeit) watches gets wider and wider apart!

 Care to spot the “genuine” from the “replica” (counterfeit/fake)?
 In the above example, the “Luxury or Lie™” course would teach some 6 immediate ways, just from the dial to distinguish between this “Ultra Super Fake™” and the genuine.

Or again here, with the very heavily counterfeited Panerai.

Care to spot the inconsistencies now between genuine and “replica” (counterfeit/fake)?

Once again the “Luxury or Lie™” course would teach some 3 immediate ways, just from the movement to distinguish between this super fake and the genuine.

No – absolutely incorrect to term these or indeed any “counterfeit” watches as “replicas”.

Actually these “fakes” tend to replicate themselves, inherent mistakes made by one counterfeiter tend to be “replicated” by the next counterfeiter as can be seen here.”

Versus this “genuine” can you spot the glaring error?

As we can see above, the fake has spelt Moscow as “MOSCUW” – we can only wonder what attention the counterfeiters paid to the movement quality!

Fake watches – or so termed “replicas” are bad news to our industry, making up 7% to 8% of the world trade in watches.  Some 40 million fake watches are made every year, compared to 30m genuine Swiss watches!

I am seeing genuine people being “duped” out of large sums of money nearly every day – all in the name of “replica”.

Adam R. Harris is the course developer and instructor of “Luxury or Lie™”, a course offered through the National Association of Watch and Clock Collectors, Columbia, PA. For details about the next course contact or register here for sessions in either Columbia, PA or Santa Paula, CA.

©Adam R. Harris 2016

Parachrom, Paraflex, Cerachrom are trademarks of Rolex S.A.
Genuine Rolex photo, courtesy of Rolex SA

Monday, July 4, 2016

Watches' Luxury or Lie: Pawnbrokers Learn to Identify

Las Vegas, NV Strip. Image courtesy of Pixabay. CCO Public Domain

UPDATE (May 2017):

I've discovered that one of the best blogs to find out more about upscale pawnshops is written by EZ Pawn Corporation's President, Lauren Kaminsky. 

The 2017 National Pawnbrokers Association (NPA) Annual will be held in Las Vegas July 11-13.

Summer is the high season for professional association conferences and trade shows. This summer, Las Vegas heats up with no fewer than 240 of them during July. The National Pawnbrokers Association (NPA) will be there hosting its Pawn Expo 2016 at the Mirage Hotel and Casino from July 12 -14th.

This year, the National Association of Watch and Clock Collectors (NAWCC) offers Pawn Expo attendees an exceptional opportunity to learn more about the vagaries of luxury watches. Adam Harris, NAWCC Horologist/Consultant will be speaking about how to unravel the product Luxury or Lie conundrum, i.e. how to "discern a counterfeit wristwatch from the genuine."

Eleven is a lucky LV number and it's also the number of manufacturers Harris will cover in his NPA presentation. The line-up includes Omega, Hublot, Rolex, Breitling, Cartier, Tag Heuer, Panerai, Bell & Ross, Patek, Breguet, and Audemars Piquet.

Pawnbrokers attending the session will learn how not to rely on Lady Luck in accepting a luxury watch for loan collateral or outright buy. They will learn to identify the hallmarks of the genuine and tip-offs to the so- called "replica watches" as the counterfeit trade likes to call them. They will learn the watch industry language of  "reworked dials, the marriage of Franken pieces (some original parts mixed with replica or after-market parts), complications, and homage versus Franken versus reworked."

Surprised that this would be of interest to the pawn industry?  It is big business -- with $14.5 billion in annual revenue. There were approximately 11,000 U.S. pawn establishments. 85% of them are independently owned small businesses or small regional chains. The rest are publicly owned. Most will never see luxury watches proffered on a regular basis.

However, there is a subset within the industry known as upscale pawnshops or high-end pawnshops that accept higher value merchandise that can include watches, jewelry, gem stones, fine art, and wine collections among others. These include EZ Pawn Corporation of New York, the Provident Loan Society of New York, Borro, and 

Several of these companies already have had associates who participated in Adam Harris' two-day NAWCC Class, "Luxury or Lie" and gave glowing reports on their experiences.

"Adam Harris' Luxury or Lie Course is a must for anyone in the business of buying high-end watches. His knowledge and expertise surpassed our expectations and provided an invaluable learning experience for all."
                                                                    Lauren Kaminsky, EZ Pawn Corp, NY

"what initially on paper sounded as a rather boring seminar turned out to be a extremely informative event. It opened up my eyes into the vast world of watches without hesitation. Your entertaining way of getting everybody involved in this course was without peer."
                   Gertrude C. Richter, Manager, Provident Loan Society of New York

It's a sure thing that pawnbrokers who take this NPA seminar during Pawn 2016  won't follow the adage, "What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas." They'll be using their new luxury watch knowledge with discriminating eyes and spreading the word to colleagues about the value of identifying the replica from the authentic.

RELATED POST: Guest Post: What's in a Name? - War of Words" (Adam Harris)