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What you get from a counterfeit

by J.Peter

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Disclaimer: I would never purchase a counterfeit watch, nor do I usually work on them which is why I am making this post. I will not be making a habit of discussing counterfeits here. I strongly believe that counterfeiting, like pirating, plagarism, and stealing to be unethical and wrong. I choose not to participate or support these activities.

With that out of the way. Today a friend showed me a counterfeit Panerai that he received as a “gag gift.” He thought I might find it interesting. Since I normally stay far away from such things I decided to take this opportunity to educate myself, my friend, and my blog readers about what you get from a counterfeit (besides a nagging conscience.)

Here is what I found:Fake Panerai At first look it is a nice looking watch. In fact from 5 feet away I might not know it wasn’t the real thing. When I first held it, it felt really light. The crown is extremely chintzy, when you unscrew it, it kind of wobbles and you can feel the sharp poorly finished edges of the knurling.

Take a close look and it just doesn’t seem right. We’ll start on the dial side. First it says 8 days and has a power reserve of about 60 hours without the horizontal power reserve indicator. Second, poor quality handsthe hands have the cheap stamped feel to them. The minute hand sits well above the cannon pinion and the luminous material is oozing out around the underside of the hands onto the sides.poor second hand

Flip over the watch to reveal some more quality issues. Take a good look at the full shot above (click on the picture for a larger version.) You’ll notice it seems dull, the movement seems to be ruthenium plated maybe (it’s very dark) the geneva stripes (or beijing stripes?) are very coarsely done and there is light scratching all over the movement. The lettering is crooked and some of the letters are poorly formed. There is a combination of flat and round headed screws (as well as white metal and blued). The beveled edges of the bridge are not polished and in fact there are many burrs sticking out still from the finishing process.

Zoom in closer and here’s what you’ll find.pan swan neck zoom The swan neck regulation screw is too short to reach the full domain of the regulator arm (in fact it isn’t even touching the regulation arm.) If the swan neck spring were doing its job it should push the regulation arm back against the screw.pan barrel teethThe barrel teeth are very coarse with burrs raised on nearly every one. I guess they didn’t have time to drop it in a tumbler to remove burrs before installing it in the watch. That jagged edge to the right of the barrel teeth is actually the threads on the case for the back (ouch!)poor oiling I only zoomed in on one jewel (kind of the worst example.) There is an oily substance all over the flat surface of the jewel (which should be perfectly clean.) Over time this oil will wick the oil out of the oil cup (where it belongs) and leave the pivot dry. All in all this movement represents a low grade Chinese copy of the ETA 6497/98 which I have heard are only semi-interchangeable with genuine ETA parts, it could prove difficult to find certain parts for this movement.

So, it is very poor quality. Would this affect the function of the watch? Definitely, over time those burrs will come free and clog the gear train or destroy the pivots or both. The fourth wheel will be running dry before too long, it won’t really be serviceable so it is basically a throw it away when it stops working kind of watch. So, you ask, “How is it running now?”

It has a 59 hour power reserve, pretty impressive. Well not really, it would appear as though they accomplished this mostly by putting a weaker and longer mainspring in the barrel, sacrificing amplitude for power reserve. They managed to squeak out an extra two turns of the barrel adding about 16 hours to the normal power reserve. Here are the timing results:

Full Wind



Dial Up


245 deg

Dial Down


270 deg

Stem Up


215 deg

Stem Left


215 deg

Stem Right


225 deg

Half Wind



Dial Up


225 deg

Dial Down


215 deg

Stem Up


190 deg

Stem Left


185 deg

Stem Right


190 deg

Average full wind is +8.6 sec / day. Delta of all positions over 24 hours is 30 seconds. I know for a fact that a stock ETA 6497 is capable of better than +2 and a delta of 10. I didn’t try and regulate this watch, but I’m sure whatever adjustments I made wouldn’t last for long.

My conclusion: The people who produce these watches are criminals (or at the very least not ethical. I don’t believe in supporting crime, especially organized crime. The watch isn’t that great. At best it is good for a single service cycle. Want to chime in on the issue of counterfeits, feel free to comment.

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  1. MiklePorter
    Posted April 16, 2008 at 5:01 am | Permalink

    Good Afternoon All

    I was looking for fashion watches Panerai – Luminor Automatic PN-81 and I’ve found something beautiful here Breitling – Chrono-Matic Quartz Chronograph BT-30
    Zenith – Star El Primero ZT-3
    Tag Heuer – Monaco Quartz Chronograph TH-26
    . How do you think, are these watches worth buying? I want to buy one, but want to know your opinion first please.

    P.S. For me a replica watch is the only opportunity to have a watch with a well-known name.

  2. J.Peter
    Posted April 18, 2008 at 6:21 pm | Permalink


    Your question is an interesting one. If you read my post you would know that I don’t think very highly of counterfeit watches or the people who make them. You say that buying a counterfeit is the only way you could buy a watch with a well-known name, except you still wouldn’t have a watch with a well known name. I think I’ll tackle this issue in a new post today.

  3. Yossarian
    Posted June 30, 2008 at 2:26 pm | Permalink

    My dad once bought a fake Rolex Submariner while we were on vacation. It only cost 50$ or so, but it actually went quite well. Today, 18 years later, it is still ticking away. I have never timed it, but my guess is that its time-keeping is lousy. Also, the whole case and “crystal” glass is covered in scratches.

    However, it was this watch that made me go out and buy a real Submariner for myself after all these years. I guess something good came out of it.

    You keep a very nice blog by the way, thanks!

  4. justin
    Posted January 25, 2009 at 8:56 am | Permalink

    I bought one of these movements of ebay thinking it was a genuine ETA. Stupid I know. I have a genuine Unitas 6498 and was hoping for a parts movement for the genuine one. Most of your commentary is on the coarseness of the parts, the problem with the regulation screw and the coarseness of the threads in the case back. What could be done to remedy this? What is someone disassembled the movement and placed the course parts in the tumbler? What if the movement was oiled correctly to begin with? What could be done to eliminate the jaggedness of the case back threads? If these things were overcome, would this movement be serviceable? I should note the clone 6498 I have is not marked panerai or any other brand. Thanks!

  5. Ray
    Posted October 2, 2009 at 9:12 am | Permalink

    It is interesting to note that some of the originak fakes were Swiss. I have several pocket watch movements, all 18 size, that are fakes of good American watches of the 1870-1900 era. There are such names as “Keystone Watch Co. – Keystone, Ill.” and the “Massasoit Watch Company – Boston, Mass”. The look of these movements would fool a layman into thinking hegot something good. Others I have are set with “jewels” which do nothing but hide the plain hole beneath them, and end stones that coverblind holes.
    In the clock area, the round clocks made by Herschede were just a French clock made with machines and screw in place pf pins, and they are fine performers.

    The lesson is that if people are faking good products simply to sell junk, somebody will eventually wake up and improve the quality of those products, and probably change the brand names to their own. When that does happen, the makers of the originals will be imperilled by stiff competition from the lower cost marketers.

    In the meantime, stay away from the fakes because they are usually nothing but trouble for the repairer and often grief for the purchaser.

    Ray Anderson

  6. Jim Raynor
    Posted October 23, 2009 at 6:19 am | Permalink

    You guys are just buying poorly made knock offs. Clicking on the first google result. All the best offerings are underground and not widely advertised. Me personally I buy a Mix of replica cases and genuine service parts and mix them with a Swiss 2892A2 and I’ve never had a problem since I personally service and lube my movement and grease all gaskets for water tightness. I even time my movements out within COSC specs and pressure test to 60meters. Ive built ElPrimero based Daytonas for 1/4 the price that are ALL gen parts except for the case. So this goes to show you that not all counterfeits are crappy copies when someone has the passion and knowledge to perfect it and build it.

  7. Larry D.
    Posted April 30, 2012 at 6:59 am | Permalink

    With all the more affordable brands of watches available, I still don’t understand why people would buy counterfeit goods of any type. For the price of some of these with “Swiss” movements in them, one can purchase a very nice Seiko, Citizen or Bulova, and have a very reputable named watch on your wrist, that actually has a warranty, and a knowledge that you have not supported a criminal enterprise by purchasing a replica.

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  1. […] while ago I reviewed a counterfeit watch to point out how poor the quality was. Mikle, posted a comment asking about my opinion of several other counterfeits. He said, “For [him] a replica watch is […]

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