How to buy a Rolex

One obvious way is to get yourself down to Mappin and Webb and shell out several tense of thousands of pounds. You could save yourself some dosh by climbing on a plane and heading for China or Hong  Kong, where trademarks and copyrights are treated with a light-hearted disdain. In China there’s a luxury car that is a dead ringer for a Rolls Royce Phantom, but costing about 75% less. But if China is a bit too far away for you as a UK resident, even though you could easily recoup the airfare, then you could do a lot worse than take the much shorter trip to Turkey, Europe’s knockoff capital. Last time I was there I bought a pair of Ray Bans for about £1-50, and some CDs, one of which had a spelling error on the case liner.

A friend of mine, Mike, goes to Turkey a goodly number of times a year, and went to a shop in the port town of Kusadasi. This is a notorious den of thieves, with an entire commercial neighbourhood dedicated to selling counterfeit goods, and Mike selected a Rolex from a particularly shifty proprietor. It was huge, like a hand grenade on a wriststrap, but ugly as it was he liked it. A couple of weeks later, when he got back to the UK, there was a ‘Boing!’ and all the innards fell out. This didn’t come as much a surprise to either of us, but he decided to chance his arm, and contacted the shopkeeper by email. As you may expect, there was a bit of bald denial that any transaction had occurred, but Mike sent a copy of the invoice to the Turkish consulate and threatened to alert the police (as if they didn’t know what was going on under their noses), and the shopkeeper grudgingly conceded and had Mike send the wreckage back to him by DHL.

Fast forward a few weeks. Mike had confirmation from DHL that the package had been delivered, but Mr Shifty denied all knowledge. As luck would have Mike persisted, and as he was in Turkey again decided to adopt the personal touch, and went to the shop again. Sadly the cops had mounted a huge clean up operation, and all the iffy traders had been forced to shut up shop. Mike decided to write it off toe experience, but shortly after his return to the UK a package arrived with a new hand grenade in it. Mike was pleased, and as far as I’m aware this one hasn’t spilled its entrails. Yet.

Fast forward again, Mike was in Kusadasi and managed to track down the shopkeeper and demanded to know where his watch had got to. The wheeler-dealer shrugged, had no Rolexes in stock, so told Mike to pick whichever one he fancied. Now he has a fake Rolex, and a fake Hublot. Mike claims the Hublot will allow him to dive to 400 feet. I pointed out that may be true, but the case would fill up at about 10 feet, and the face would fog up in a steamy bathroom.

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