These days, fake luxury watches can be really hard to spot, and it’s easy to get duped. But this exceptionally rough, obviously fake Audemars Piguet? We don’t understand why people are falling for it…
Sydney Kingsford Smith Airport, Australia’s biggest and busiest airport, has revived its once-annual lost property auction this year, after pausing the yearly tradition during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The auction contains all sorts of weird and wacky goods, from bottles of high-end liquor and designer jewellery to power tools and musical instruments… There are also more than a few watches, most of which are fairly cheap pieces from brands like Casio and Fossil.
However, one piece stands out: a stainless steel Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Chronograph, which has become the most coveted item in the auction, having attracted 45 bids and now sitting at over $10,000.
There’s only one problem: it’s a really blatant fake. You don’t need to be a watch nerd like me to know that it’s fake. Let me explain why.
The first hint that something’s off with this AP is the glass. Obviously, the watch has seen better days – the bracelet shows signs of extreme wear, the case is scratched and the glass is cracked – but the way the glass has cracked is a bit of a giveaway.
A real Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Chronograph would use sapphire crystal for its glass, which is much harder (and more expensive) than mineral glass, which most fakes use. The way this Sydney Airport AP’s glass is scratched and chipped looks more like cheap mineral glass than sapphire crystal – but it’s hard to tell from just photos, so maybe you could give them the benefit of the doubt.
What’s easier to tell from the photos is that its dial doesn’t seem quite right. The AP logo above the ‘Audemars Piguet Automatic’ text is a little too big, while the text’s font seems too slight. The finishing on the plinth the text sits on seems off, too. (Modern RO Chrono references omit the ‘Automatic’ text and the small AP logo, so that doesn’t immediately mean the Sydney Airport watch is fake, just an older design.)
A bigger hint is that the subdial layout is incorrect and the date window seems misaligned… But flip the watch over and you get the biggest hint of all – the movement.
Photos clearly show that the Sydney Airport watch has a cheap Japanese quartz movement. AP has never released a quartz RO Chrono, nor would they put a Japanese movement in their watches. Not to labour the point, but this is a clear giveaway that the watch is counterfeit.
To be fair, the auctioneer, Theodore Bruce, makes no claims that the watch is genuine. The lot is simply titled “A Gentleman’s Wrist Watch marked Audemars Piguet, Automatic” (although that in itself is misleading as the watch isn’t automatic, it’s quartz) and they clearly say “we do not guarantee the authenticity, brand or stamping on any item, or that it is fit for purpose.”
We still think it’s a pretty bad look. We don’t know what’s worse – that the lot doesn’t make it clear that it’s fake, or that 45 people have been dumb enough to take bids up to over $10,000.
The auction isn’t all just fake watches, though. The auction actually includes a women’s Rolex Datejust that appears to be genuine, which is currently attracting bids in excess of $3,500. Still, buyer beware…