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What do Bearings & Fake Rolexes have to do with each other…?

Fake Rolex photo courtesy of U.S. Customs and Border Protection

Earlier in November, U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers in the Port of Newark/New York were performing routine inspections of containers coming off ships.  Looking at a manifest documenting “bearings,” imagine their surprise when they discovered a container full of counterfeit Rolex, Tag Heuer, Omega and Breitling watches.   Customs and Border Protection officers determined that these counterfeits violated several different trademarks and corporate logos licensing laws.  The counterfeit watches were of poor quality and certainly would not have been considered a decent working watch.

Rolex in particular has heavy import restrictions to protect consumers from purchasing fake Rolex timepieces. Incoming Rolex timepieces are routinely confiscated at U.S. Customs because the only incoming Rolexes into the United States are can only be shipped by Rolex Switzerland. Travelers coming in from overseas can only hand carry one genuine Rolex without permission.  According to U.S. Customs,

The Rolex trademark recordation with Customs indicates “Import of Goods Bearing Genuine Trademarks or Trade Names Restricted.” This means that genuine Rolex products can only be imported with the permission of the trademark owner, Rolex Watch U.S.A. Inc. A private individual can hand carry one Rolex watch from a trip overseas without obtaining permission. Bring in more than one, and they will all be seized as a trademark violation. Purchasing a Rolex from overseas by mail is also a trademark violation.

This also includes hand carrying fake Rolexes because of logo and trademark violations.  Other stories of incoming travelers and issues with U.S. Customs is posted on the Beckertime Blog.

Fake Breitling photo courtesy of U.S. Customs and Border Protection

Although the counterfeit watches discovered at the Port of Newark were bad imitations that anyone with a somewhat discerning eye could see, there are plenty of fake brand watches where genuine and fake are hard to discern.  Rolex considers any Rolex timepiece with an aftermarket product such as a non-Rolex replacement strap as a counterfeit watch.  Rolex only considers Rolex timepieces with all Rolex manufactured components as being truly genuine. Rolex will not service a Rolex timepiece if it has aftermarket products, or will suggest replacing those items with genuine parts at time of service. Rolex maintains this high standard because many quality fake Rolex watches are amalgamations of genuine and non-genuine components. Unscrupulous ones will use genuine Rolex watch cases and faces, but replace the movement with an inexpensive movement. The genuine Rolex movement is parted out to use in other counterfeit watches or parts sold separately similar to what “chop shops” do with stolen vehicles. This is one of the reasons why when purchasing a pre-owned Rolex watch is to use reputable dealers such as Beckertime.

Although being imitated is one form of flattery, Rolex and other quality Swiss watch companies do not see anything funny about it because they see it as a loss of potential revenue, dilutes the brand name, and their respective logos are used for purposes that don’t flatter and support the company. A fake is a fake, no matter how original and genuine it appears and for many people, only reflects the value of the person who is selling it or wearing it.

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