Fake vs Real Richard Mille Watches (Don’t Make A MISTAKE!)
The fake watch industry is huge. In fact, the European Observatory on Infringements of Intellectual Property Rights estimates that nearly 1.9 billion Euros of annual revenue for legitimate manufacturers is lost to counterfeit watches and jewelry on the European market (nearly 13.5% of total sales for the sector), with counterfeiting causing an estimated 3.5 billion Euros worth of sales lost for the European economy.
It’s likely you’re even just as aware within your personal life that fake watches exist, so their proliferation in markets and social settings is common. Wear a branded watch, and you might get asked, “Is it real?”; Ask the same question to a peer, and the response, “It’s a fake…”, is just as likely.
And with watches being increasingly present in the public consciousness today than ever before, it’s no wonder that their counterfeit counterparts are increasing in quality and numbers than ever before as well, copying brands the full spectrum from Seiko to Rolex and even Richard Mille.
About Richard Mille Watches
Richard Mille is a Swiss high luxury watchmaker founded in 2001 by Richard Mille and Dominique Guenat. The brand is known for its innovative designs, cutting-edge materials, and high-performance movements with advanced technologies.
Richard Mille watches are some of the most expensive watches in the world, with prices ranging from $100,000 to well over $1,000,000, and are worn by celebrities and world-class athletes the world over (You may have heard of Jay-Z, Michelle Yeoh, Kevin Hart, Drake, or Rafael Nadal for starters).
With their unique designs, manufacturing, and celebrity endorsements, Richard Mille watches have come to represent among the highest tiers of achievement and attainment within the watch industry. Unfortunately, this popularity and status have also made them a target for counterfeiters.
Fake vs Real Richard Mille Watches: What to Look For
Counterfeit Richard Mille watches are often made with inferior materials and craftsmanship and may not even have the correct features or functions. As a result, it is important to be able to tell the difference between a real and a fake Richard Mille watch before you buy one.
While this is not a “be all, end all” guide on how to spot a fake Richard Mille, these are a few helpful tips that can help you on your way, or at the very least raise a few immediate red flags to help you get out of dodge. Let’s jump in.
Is the deal “too good to be true”? Trust your gut; it’s probably a fake. If you see a Richard Mille watch for sale for a price that is too good to be true, it probably is; remember, the entry level pricing for a Richard Mille is nearly $100,000.
If you see a watch at a fraction of the cost, ex: $20,000 for an RM 07-04, it’s likely a fake. Counterfeiters often sell their watches at a fraction of the retail price to lure unsuspecting buyers. This goes without saying that RM 11-03 on eBay for $450.00 is also…not legit.
Build Quality & Materials
Inspect the materials. Richard Mille watches are made from high-quality materials, such as titanium, carbon fiber, and sapphire crystal. If the watch you are considering buying is made from something technically “inferior” or low-tech, like steel or plastics, it is likely a fake.
Additionally, look for flaws in the craftsmanship. Richard Mille watches are made with meticulous attention to detail and should be precise in execution. If you notice any flaws in the craftsmanship, such as uneven lines or misaligned screws, incorrect fonts, engravings, or even the wrong movement type (many fakes will use quartz batteries in place of mechanical movements), you’ll know it’s counterfeit.
A watch’s weight can be a tricky tell for watch authenticity without experience handling many watches or understanding how weight should translate on the wrist; however, it can certainly be a factor when determining if one is real or fake.
In the case of fake Rolex watches for example, the legitimate watch will often feel much heftier and solid than the fake. However, due to their use of advanced materials, Richard Mille watches are inherently lightweight, so quite the opposite can be said.
If the watch feels too heavy, as if made of steel, etc., then it’s safe to doubt the authenticity. Indeed, watches such as the RM 035 “Rafael Nadal” are purpose-built to be as lightweight as possible for use on the tennis court, so be sure to do your research to gauge accordingly.
With pricing into $100,000 and beyond, it’s easy to understand that case finishing should be of the utmost importance for a manufacturer such as Richard Mille to meet the expectations of the prices being asked.
On the other hand, manufacturers of fake watches are not going to be spending nearly as much time or effort in finishing their watch cases, as their intent is to pump out as many fakes as they can with as close to acceptable finishing as possible to maximize their profit margins. With a fake Richard Mille in hand, you may often find rough edges or surfaces that aren’t finished correctly (ex: brushed when it should be polished).
Is the watch ticking or does it have a visible battery? Unfortunately, that’s a fake. Is the movement finishing on par with the cost of the watch, or are there bare bridges, poor decoration, and missing jewels?
All are tell-tale signs of a counterfeit watch (which isn’t to say there aren’t high-end quartz watches; rather, cheaply made quartz movements are often placed in fake watches). Do your research and get familiar with the functions of the particular model you’re aiming to buy. If it’s a chronograph, make sure the functionality is present. Oftentimes, a fake won’t be able to do it all.
How to Avoid Fake Richard Mille Watches:
We’ve listed a few basics that should help you along the way. But even for the most hardened watch experts, it can still be difficult to tell a really good fake from a legitimate timepiece, particularly as the fake manufacturers continue to get better and better at what they do. It’s scary how close the counterfeits are getting these days, so what more can you do to ensure your safety?
Do Your Research
It goes without saying, but when spending over $100,000 on a timepiece (or any luxury purchase for that matter), do your research. A friend once told me you should be able to describe the face of the watch in perfect detail, at a minimum, before you even consider buying it.
More than that, immerse yourself in the details of the watch; its dimensions, features, and functions, heck, make it your cell phone wallpaper so that you see it every day and know what a proper example should look like. When the example you’ve been waiting for comes to sale, do your research on that! This leads us to the next point…
A legitimate and worthy seller should be willing to answer any question you have about the watch they have for sale. Ask to see the warranty card; every Richard Mille should have a unique warranty card with a holographic seal embedded.
It should be signed and dated by a Richard Mille employee and should have a serial number that should match the serial number engraved on the bottom of the caseback of the watch. Ask about the history of the watch, its provenance, return policy, and more pictures of the details (ex: the movement, watch condition, etc.) as needed.
Take Your Time
Don’t be a victim of FOMO (fear of missing out); making a rash decision to purchase a watch without taking your time and due diligence can land you in a tough spot. You also shouldn’t feel pressured by the seller to make the purchase.
Get An Expert Opinion
Social media and local watch groups like Instagram and Red Bar are great resources for finding like-minded collector communities. Technology has brought us together in ways that can benefit you when making a purchase decision.
You’ll find that, more often than not, people are willing to help. Reach out to other collectors or specialists, and they’ll be able to speak to a watch’s legitimacy or at least raise red flags if anything looks off. I’ve even personally saved a friend from being victimized by watch fraud when I noticed the URL of the watch he wanted to purchase was a fake eBay listing.
Always Buy from a Reputable Seller
Which brings us to the final point: Always buy from a trusted dealer. There’s an adage in the watch community, “Buy the seller, not the watch”. A trusted, reputable dealer has nothing but their reputation and will go to great lengths to protect it.
They will do their due diligence to ensure a watch is legitimate, often with employed watchmakers on hand to confirm this, even down to the watch’s construction and movement analysis. They may even be certified to work on/with the brand, or at the very least, should be able to provide a post-purchase warranty and a flexible return policy, with authenticity guaranteed.
They should have experience dealing with watches of this caliber and be able to accommodate all of your questions and concerns detailed above. At the end of the day, your best ticket to guaranteeing an authentic watch is to purchase from a reputable dealer.
Richard Mille is a young brand, but it has quickly made a name for itself in the world of luxury watchmaking. The company’s watches are known for their innovative designs, cutting-edge materials, and high-performance movements. Its quick ascent has made it a target for criminal activity and the production of fakes.
Purchasing a fake Richard Mille is costly. Not only will you be paying for an inferior product, but you may also be supporting criminal activity. By following the tips in this article and purchasing only from reputable sellers, you can help to ensure that what you’re getting is the real deal. Godspeed.
About Exquisite Timepieces
Established in 1998, Exquisite Timepieces is your one-stop shop for all things luxury watches! We are an authorized dealer for 60+ luxury watch brands including Omega, Hublot, Seiko, & Longines! We are proud to showcase one of the world’s largest pre-owned watch collections, including renowned brands like Rolex and Patek Philippe. Check out our brand new watch arrivals here and popular pre-owned listings here.