“Aided by the Internet’s communication and trading facilities, counterfeiters have seized this opportunity to change their strategy and that is without counting the growing demand for luxury products and high-grade watchmaking.”
– Fabrice Gueroux
It’s not possible to provide precise sales figures of fake products in this manual. Nevertheless, it is vital to have an idea of the scale of the market for fakes so that we can become aware of the dangers it presents for the second-hand market. Why such a large turnover when the distribution network is hardly visible?
Although it’s obvious that a business making fake watches will never undertake marketing campaigns like those of the great watch brands, it should nevertheless be remembered that there are other forms of marketing available. The Internet has today become the market place for the huge traffic in counterfeit products. Over the past few years millions of objects have found buyers and changed hands. These sites are the main target of brands and professional bodies. As soon as an illegal site is closed down, there’s nothing easier than to open another under a different name or on another platform. For the counterfeiters, quantities and search-engine referrals are more important than quality. Sites are duplicated and even if you consider a site that is closed down and reopens within a week can go from 100 watches sold per day to 10 a day at the beginning, you have to multiply the number of sites by a few thousand and then add the mass spamming campaigns and effective communication on social networks, forums and second-hand sales sites. You will then find it easy to realize the extent of this phenomenon and the damage it does to the watch industry.
If this market didn’t benefit from the activities of organized crime, in other words the thousands of individuals exploited for sales, production, assembly and the setting up of Internet sites, things would be very different today. The counterfeit market can be compared to drug trafficking, which has long been impossible to root out. Millions of fake objects circulate today, while the number of consumers of all ages has grown impressively.
It is not unusual to see these watches arriving at the after-sales department of the brands or at independent watchmakers. While a great number of these fail at the first checkpoint and are destined for immediate destruction, some manage to escape the vigilance of unaware watch repairers unused to having fakes of superior quality in their hands. Such watches, of course, continue their journey and very often end up on the second-hand market.
While fake watches were initially sold as such, we are coming across increasing numbers of sales by individuals who are not aware of the kind if watch that they are trying to sell on the second-hand market and often remain convinced that it’s an original watch.