7000 Fake Rolex Watches Crushed By US Law Enforcement
If there is anything that watch brands hate more than a bad economy, it is fake watches. Asia pumps out fake watches faster than ever, and Swiss watch brands have been lobbying lawmakers and law enforcement all over the world to help out. First of all, fake watches are illegal. As far as watch brands are concerned, they are as bad as hard drug trafficking. While replica watches (and other luxury goods) don't represent a violent crime, they are very damaging to the luxury goods economy, and are severe infringements of intellectual property rights. For a long time many Asian countries (especially China) have a bad reputation for utterly disregarding intellectual property rights. It is hard enough to enforce such laws in those countries, but when the goods travel here, the US is pissed off.
A major dealer of fake luxury goods including Rolex watches who was arrested last year had his good endure a unique public spectacle. The take down was operated by the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE), who apparently worked closely with Rolex. The arrest last year was after years of investigation and gathering evidence. The culprit was one Binh Cam Tran of Pennsylvania. After importing the parts for the fake watches, the replica timepieces were assembled in his home outside of Philadelphia. Tran is currently serving 6 years in jail and has been ordered to pay over $2 million dollars to Rolex USA.
What you see above is a steamroller crushing 7000 confiscated fake Rolex watches that were seized as part of the Tran investigation and prosecution. The fakes were roller over again and again as a message to would-be importers or producers of fake watches. I would think that owning a fake and having it break soon after would be deterrent enough. Although, a major concern when it comes to replica watches are when they are passed-off as authentics. This harms the luxury economy as well as brands much more than when people knowingly purchase fake goods.
In the past luxury goods had a powerful weapon on their side - the mere fact that their goods were hard to make, used expensive materials, and hard to come by. Fakes have been a problem for as long as there was a luxury industry, but the distribution power of the Internet, as well as increasingly sophisticated techniques by replicators have compounded the problem. It calls into question the very definition of luxury, and whether something that can be reproduced so easily is still luxury. Rolex has a product that is very hard to fake well enough to trick educated watch lovers. Others... may be fooled.
My advice to anyone interested in purchasing luxury goods is to educate yourself before getting anything. Learn why a brand is considered luxurious, what makes their product special and why people like their products. A good design is easy to copy, but quality and construction is not. Know what the real thing is like before investing in one yourself. Through this education process you'll also learn if that item you are lusting for is even worth paying for in the first place (I am talking to you high margin luxury sunglasses makers!).
Ariel Adams publishes the luxury watch review site aBlogtoRead.com.