Is That a Phony Rolex You’re Wearing?

There’s big money in ersatz luxury items. Here’s how to spot the fakes.

THOSE SLEEK OAKLEY “MUM-bo” sunglasses look authentic. But the price tag says $50 instead of the usual $140. Real or counterfeit?

Monty Drake can tell. Drake, a private investigator, works primarily for Bausch and Lomb, makers of Ray-Ban sunglasses, and Oakley, a California company that aggressively pursues counterfeiters. His work resulted in the seizure of more than 23,000 pairs of bogus sunglasses and 10,000 ersatz Rolex watches this past fall at Dallas Jewelry and Findings and Designer Watches and Jewelry. Drake also frequently runs across knockoffs of Dooney & Bourke handbags, Mont Blanc pens, and more.

How to spot the fakes? First, ask the dealer, Many sellers of fakes don’t attempt to pass them off as red. But some suppliers claim the counterfeit items are “mark-downs,” discontinued, or over-runs. When in doubt, watch for these clues:

Mont Blanc pens: The black and gold models sell for an average of $120; the fake might sell for as little- as $6. An authentic Mont Blanc has a hefty feel and a little white top piece called the crown. Take die pen apart and look at the refill; it should be made by Mont Blanc.

Dooney & Bourke handbags: The genuine bags sell for up to $300;fakescanbeboughtfor$30-$50. The phony may be crafted of leather, but often the stitching doesn’t meet, the inside is poorly finished, and the leather duck “badge” may be glued on instead of sewn.

‧ Rolex watches: The second hand of a real Rolex has a sweep ing motion; phonies “tick” like a Timex. The crown Rolex label should be stamped on all pieces of the clasp as well as the stem, and each genuine article has a num bered Rolex sticker on the back. (Dead giveaway: Real Rolexes do not have batteries.)

Ray-Ban sunglasses: Real Ray- Bans have the initials “BL” etched into one lens, The nose piece should be soft plastic, not hard, and adjust easily to the face. The “brazing” or welding on wire frames should be even, not sloppy. And the case should be leather, not plastic.

‧ Oakley sunglasses: Known tor their high-quality lenses. Oakleys are made of plutonite and guaranteed not to break. Some phonies are easy to spot. Their nose pieces and ear socles are made of hard plastic, not soft, pliable rubber. The ear pieces of real Oakleys have no screws, the lettering of the Oakley logo on the side should be raised, not flat, and there should be no stickers on the lenses. The real lenses should have a consistent color, with no distortion.


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