Beware of counterfeit watches, pay attention to the source of authentication
Thierry Dubois, Hong Kong representative of the Swiss Watch Industry Federation and founder of LUOXO
The price of antique watches continues to rise. How should we guard against counterfeit goods? How to should we distinguish between original and duplicate watches? Let Thierry Dubois, the Hong Kong representative of the Swiss Watch Industry Federation and the founder of LUOXO, answer our questions for us
What trends and insights should the watch industry be aware of from the second half of 2022 and the first half of 2023?
Forecasts for the Swiss watch industry in the second half of 2022 remain optimistic, despite a less favorable outlook overall and a higher degree of uncertainty. Watches will continue to benefit from a sustained demand and the appeal of the luxury market. However, the sector's turnover will be impacted by several obstacles such as difficulties in the supply of raw materials and investments, the rising cost of energy and transportation, the lack of manpower, and the strength of the Swiss franc
What is your view on the current state of the watch industry?
Swiss watches have enjoyed strong global. demand in the first half of this year. There was an increase of watch exports to most markets with the notable exception of Mainland China and Hong Kong. The downturn. in macroeconomic, geopolitical and health conditions has by and large only had a limited impact on the sector's results to date. Swiss watch exports between January and June 2022 amounted to CHF11.9 billion, representing a growth of 11.9%, compared with the first semester of 2021.
What do you think of the increasing prices on the vintage watch market? Sustainable growth or bubble waiting to burst?
We have to make the difference here in between vintage watches and pre-owned (or second-hand) watches.
Vintage watches are watches that are 30 years old or more. The prices of these watches has gone up, but if the watches are in good. condition and with proper authentication, they can be seen as collectibles.
Pre-owned watches have seen a very rapid increase in price that is sometimes difficult to explain. Prices of some of these watches have also recently fallen dramatically. These watches are often used an investment tool with quick returns, but we encourage watch enthusiasts to purchase their watch from authorized retailers, even if this means waiting longer or paying premiums.
One has to always be extremely wary of counterfeits, which are everywhere when it comes to pre-owned (or second-hand] watches.
Are fake watches a big deal for the industry?
Yes, fake watches are a serious problem for the watch industry, like for all industries.
How can you tell the difference between original and duplicate watches?
We are very fortunate to be in an industry where it is easy to tell the difference, especially once you open the watch. Specialists are always able to tell the difference in between original and fake watches. This is not the case when it comes to other industries, like the apparel. [clothing) industry. The biggest danger for the watch buyer is that, often, sellers that are not authorized retailers (auction houses, platforms, and unscrupulous watch shops) may not or (worse) do know the truth and do not tell buyers that the watch (or parts of the watch] is fake!
This is why it is necessary to have an experienced, independent, organization to authenticate pre-owned watches, someone who has all the necessary skills and equipment and who will take the time to meticulously check watches before authenticating them!
How can you tell a fake designer watch?
Designer watches are more challenging. because less effort has been placed on the quality of the finishing and the movements are more common, but again, specialists will be able to tell.
As an individual, how do I spot fake watches? Can you recommend any good reading material for anyone wanting to arm themselves with knowledge on navigating the watch market?
Once again, buying watches from authorized retailers will guard the individual against fake watches.
On the pre-owned watch market, an independent and experienced organization to authenticate pre-owned watches has become a must.
What are the most common fake watches in the market? How do they pose an impact on the industry?
The most common fake watches in the market are the models that are popular. This changes according to the trends.
Fakes pose a threat to the industry in a way that as a buyer of real watches - you do not want to have people asking you if the watch you are wearing is fake or real. Fake products affect the image and the reputation of a brand and when this happens too often, buyers will turn to another brand.
Among the watch pieces, you have recently encountered, which piece did you find the most appealing and why?
I am a big lover of watches and I have many favourite watches, for different reasons. I treasure all my watches and will never sell them!
Is there any message you would like to share with your peers in the watch industry?
It is time for us to help watch enthusiasts nurture their love of watches and share the passion for horology. This is why I have created LUOXO, a watch enthusiasts community in Hong Kong.
It is also time for our colleagues watch retailers to improve the watchmaking knowledge of their sales staff, reason why we offer hands-on workshops so that retailers not only know brands, models and prices, but also have some practical experience on disassembling and re-assembling a very simple watch movement.
It is time for brands to become more eco friendly.
It is also time to have experienced and reliable sources of authentication of pre-owned watches.