I bought a fake Rolex watch.
More than once.
Why? I had a mindset you may have experienced yourself – where's the harm in buying and wearing a fake? It's all the cachet at a fraction of the cost.
There is a downside, however, which I discovered as soon as I wore mine.
I have two fake Rolexes. And I wish I could say that I stopped there, but no – I also have a fake Patek Phillippe, a fake Louis Vuitton, and a fake Breitling. Do you want to see them? I bet you do. Read on.
#1. What's The Story?
Back in 2007 when I started my first company, A Tailored Suit, I went to Hong Kong – to Kowloon specifically – looking for tailors to partner with.
I was in Hong Kong, exploring a cool local bazaar, and all of a sudden someone came up and asked, “Hey – are you interested in luxury goods? You interested in a Rolex?”
Well – who's not interested in a Rolex? So I followed this guy. He led me into a room. Not a shop… just a room. Clearly things were getting a little bit shady.
#2. Why I Bought 5 Fake Watches
I looked around and realized I was SURROUNDED by Rolexes, designer bags, and all kinds of high-end gear. That was when I knew these ‘luxury goods' were fake and this salesman was going to try and take me for a ride.
So did I leave? No. I haggled. I felt pretty good I was able to talk him down from 150 or 200 bucks down to 50, but I ended up buying these watches. Why? At the time I thought, ‘If I'm getting into this industry I've got to start wearing a nice watch. I can't afford a Rolex... so I'm just gonna do this.'
#3. Fake Rolex – Worth It?
I'll tell you straight up – buying these watches was a mistake. I can count on one hand how many times I've worn any of these watches. The one I actually did wear a few times was the Patek Philippe Geneve Calatrava – I just thought it was a stylish looking watch – until I broke the glass.
But the thing is, every time I wore that watch I never felt good about it. I always worried about what would happen if somebody recognized it for what it was. Would they question me? Would I have lied to them?
Thankfully, I never got stuck in that situation – but that's the issue with counterfeits. If you're wearing something that's not real, you are never confident about it and you actually feel bad about yourself.
#4. Experiment 1 – Use Cheap, Feel Cheap?
This goes back to a 2011 psychology study on cheap products and self-worth in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology. Scientists did two experiments to see if name-brand products had a different effect on people than generic knockoffs of the same products.
In the first experiment, they pretended they were evaluating people's job qualifications. They sat the test subjects down at a computer and asked them to type up a resumé.
Half the subjects got an authentic Apple keyboard and mouse and were told, ‘We bought them just for this experiment.' The other half got a generic keyboard and mouse and were told, ‘Sorry, the budget wouldn't stretch to the real thing.'
People using a generic keyboard and mouse rated themselves as deserving a lower salary than people using an Apple keyboard and mouse.
#5. Experiment 2 – Fakes And Attraction
In the second experiment, they lent people an iPhone to call a potential romantic partner, but the battery was dead. The scientists replaced it with either a generic battery or a genuine name-brand iPhone battery.
Those using the generic battery rated themselves significantly lower on self-worth and thought their partner would find them less attractive. When people buy generics or counterfeits, their self-confidence actually drops.
Bonus: How It Feels To Wear The Real Thing
Guys – I have to agree with this study. I now own the real thing.
The first Rolex I bought was a Yacht-Master. I've had it for almost a year now, and I absolutely love wearing it. I've got a beautiful Rolex Datejust, which is my go-to dress watch. And then for everyday wear, I've got my Role Explorer – a hearty, very tough, and practical watch that looks great.
When I wear these watches I feel confident. They're authentic. Yes, I paid a pretty penny for them, but you get what you pay for. The $50 I spent on those counterfeits was 100% wasted. I never wear them. The only thing they're good for is to warn you all off buying a fake Rolex.
Now you know the story of how I ended up with five fake watches. For a story with a more satisfying ending, click here to find out how I chose my first Rolex – the Yacht-Master.
And if I've put you off buying a fake Rolex – but the budget won't stretch to a real one just yet – click here for my in-depth guide to watch buying and choose something in your price range that'll make you feel GOOD.