At some point in the past few months I got it in my head that I’d like to own/wear a vintage Rolex watch. I like the styling on older Rolexes more than the stuff they’re selling nowadays. Plus vintage watches often come from estate sales, so I’d be able to stare lovingly at my new timepiece wondering what it must have been like to pry it off some rich dead guy’s wrist.

The problem with Rolexes is that they tend to not lose their value over time. In fact restored vintage Rolexes usually cost just as much (or more) as present-day models.

I’m not looking for fancy chronographs or what have you. Just something simple and dignified to make myself feel more important than I am:

While in Turkey last month I had ample time to peruse markets full of stores selling fake Rolexes. I mean – literally – that’s all they sold. Fake watches. Painted on the windows it said “Genuine Fake Rolex.” I was intrigued.

I thought that this would finally be my chance to get something with the Rolex name on my wrist. As long as it looks real, that’s good enough for me. And for 60 euros, it’d be a steal.

Alas, it was not to be, for I returned home empty-handed.

I don’t know much about spotting fakes, but every watch I saw had telltake fakery all over it. Incorrect second-hand “action,” painted metal bands in place of true ceramic, even too-weak magnification for dates. All the signs were there and I couldn’t bring myself to buy something so poorly made.

When I got home I started scouring the Internet to see what my options were. I was shocked and awed.

Fake watches (or ‘replicas’) are graded on a five-point system. “Grade 5” watches are usually made in China, cost around $60, are made cheaply and crappily, and wouldn’t fool a blind man. They’re most likely what I saw all over Turkey.

“Grade 1” replica watches are made in Switzerland and are (according to the Internet) indistinguishable from the real thing. They also cost – get this – about a thousand dollars. One thousand dollars. For a fake watch.

$1000 for a fake watch is about $850 more than I think I’d want to pay.

I’ve given up on my dream for now. Maybe someday the stars will align and I’ll know someone who knows someone who can get me a deal. Maybe.

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