If you’re not a watch expert and not purchasing from a trusted dealer or directly from a Richard Mille boutique, you run the risk of purchasing a counterfeit (i.e. fake or replica) watch. Being so expensive, it’s best to take precautions.
Sales of Richard Mille watches have skyrocketed over the past few years. This is mostly due to the popularity, exclusivity, and status provided by owning one. However, buying a Richard Mille watch outside of a trusted dealer or company boutique comes with the inherent risk of buying a replica. In this article, we give you critical tips on how to tell a fake Richard Mille vs a real one.
Fake Richard Mille vs Real: Why take the Risk?
Ariel Adams gives a fantastic rundown of this tradeoff:
“The reality of buying a luxury watch is that your experience as a consumer is entirely dependent on how savvy a consumer you are. People with years of experience collecting watches can navigate the ponderous world of luxury watches with relative ease – having a sense of what to avoid, and what to seek. With that said, anyone seeking a more reliable and expedient consumer experience in regard to buying a high-quality new or pre-owned luxury watch didn’t have too many options at their disposal.”Ariel Adams, Forbes Magazine
In other words, without a trained eye, it can often be difficult to tell the difference between an authentic Richard Mille watch and a knockoff.
If you’ve decided on purchasing a Richard Mille, you’ll want to do your due diligence to make sure you’re getting the real deal. Our tips below are a helpful start.
Tip #1: Always Ask for Documentation
Buying pre-owned or unused from the secondary market doesn’t mean you don’t deserve to know the history of your watch. According to the brand, every Richard Mille is “accompanied by a unique, hand signed warranty card embedded with a holographic security seal on its surface.” The document is signed and dated a second time by the authorized dealer.
Asking for the watch’s original documentation is not a surefire way to ensure you’re receiving the real deal. But obvioiusly it’s a great start.
You can also check the serial number unique to every Richard Mille timepiece. The number is typically engraved on the bottom of the case back of Richard Mille watches. Serial numbers start with the prefix “RM,” followed by a series of letters, numbers, and spaces.
Tip #2: Look at the Details
A timepiece featuring the Richard Mille logo across the top of the casing is not necessarily convincing. This is especially true as fake watchmakers get better at making their pieces look like the real deal.
A few things to look at include: colors, fonts, materials, finishes, engravings, the movement, and weight.
Fake Richard Mille watches may simply have a different look on the front – especially with the telltale Richard Mille font. The same goes for the engravings – if they look misshapen or sloppy, chances are you’re holding a counterfeit.
Richard Mille watches are so unique that counterfeiters have a very difficult time recreating them or at least doing it well. If you’ve researched the model you want enough, you’ll be able to see differences in design when the watch is counterfeit.
However, Richard Mille watches are inherently visually busy and are available in many variations so it’s not always easy to tell a fake Richard Mille versus a real one at first. However, after closer inspection, fake components should eventually reveal themselves. Pay particularly close attention to small details like screws and hands to see if they’re top quality.
As for weight, authentic Richard Mille watches are super light. This means it’s not as easy to tell by the weight as it would be with counterfeit Rolex or Audemars Piguet watches, which are usually lighter than authentic versions. But do examine the material — Richard Mille is known to use cutting-edge materials to construct its watches.
Examining the authenticity of the movement may be a little more complicated. This is why getting an expert opinion is a great idea.
Tip #3: Price
You know what they say about something being too good to be true right? Well, it’s definitely the case when it comes to Richard Mille watches.
If you’re shopping around for a certain Richard Mille model (e.g. an RM-011 or RM-035 ) and you keep seeing prices around the same range, be wary of prices well below that.
Richard Mille watches are some of the most expensive in the market, so low prices are a major red flag.
Read more: Why Are Richard Mille Watches So Expensive?
Tip #5: Study the Brand and Different Models
If you’re about to drop tens of thousands or even hundreds of thousands on a Richard Mille watch, it would be worth your time to do some research on the brand overall, and even better if you dig into specific references. This way, you’ll familiarize yourself with what types of materials the company uses, what colorways are available, and the signature characteristics of certain models. The company’s official website is a great resource for details on both discontinued and current-production models.
Another great resource to check out is @FakeWatchBuster on Instagram, which, as the name suggests, publically calls out fake watches worn out in the wild — including plenty of Richard Milles. Aside from embarrassing wearers of replica luxury watches, the posts are educational because they point out the details that give it away as a fake. On the flipside, FakeWatchBuster also posts real watches, a helpful guide when trying to spot a fake Richard Mille.
Tip #6: Get an Expert Opinion
Sometimes it’s easy to spot a fake Richard Mille vs real one – but sometimes it’s not. Counterfeiters are getting better at creating a convincing look for knock-off luxury watch brands and passing them off as the real deal.
If you’re seriously considering a watch with a higher price tag, you may want to bring it to a professional. It would be a shame if you purchased a $100K+ watch and saved a few grand by skipping an expert, only to find out you got stuck with a fake.
As Ariel Adams goes on to conclude, “Only someone with a lot of experience with watches will be able to look at a fake watch and come to the conclusion “I don’t think this brand ever actually made a product that looks like this.”
In other words, those who have worked in the luxury watch industry for years often have a gut feeling about the watches they come across. If you can, it’s always a good idea to get another pair of eyes on the watch in question to help spot a Richard Mille replica vs original.
Tip #7: Buy from a Trusted Dealer!
When it comes to luxury watch brands like Richard Mille, some selling platforms aren’t going to cut it.
Buying from a trusted grey market watch dealer or an established reseller is the best way to ensure you’re buying an authentic watch. You can often find competitive prices for luxury brands, with the reassurance of a one-to-one matched warranty and authenticity guarantee.
The price difference is certainly worth the peace of mind when it comes to buying an expensive Richard Mille timepiece.
LuxuryBazaar.com, for example, has dealt with plenty of Richard Mille watches for years and we know what to look out for to avoid fake ones.
More Richard Mille content from Grey Market:
Rafael Nadal’s $525k Richard Mille RM027 Watch Stolen Again!
Yohan Blake wore new $500k Richard Mille Watch during Olympic 100m Dash
UNBOXING Watches Out of This World! – MB&F / F.P. Journe / Richard Mille
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