Updated: May 9, 2022
There has been a lot of controversy regarding what a "Franken" or "Fake" Watch is. A properly restored vintage Swiss Watch is not Franken or fake.
When the restoration is historically accurate and all original components are used in the restoration process, the watch increases in value and becomes more pleasurable to look at and enjoy while maintaining historic integrity.
There are ample examples throughout the internet that can be identified as Franken and will most likely be rejected as fake by Rolex.
Case in point is the Rolex model number 16013 which has been used by jewelers to create something completely different and market it at a huge profit.
Below are two photos of the model 16013 by Rolex. One is original properly restored watch which can be purchased for approximately $4000-$5000USD (before restoration). The other is the same watch which has been heavily unscrupulously changed only to catch the eye of customers focused on simple bling. The discriminating buyer will most certainly agree as to which one should be labelled as Franken or even Fake.
Below I have outlined 6 points of focus when inspecting Franken watches:
Factory 16013 Rolex which has been properly restored and cleaned current market value $4000-$5000 before cleaning and restoration
This same model 16013 "Rolex" pictured below, which sells for approximately $10,000 USD will most definitely be rejected by any Rolex service center and labeled as Fake despite having originally started at the Rolex factory as an original watch.
The reasons are outlined below:
The artificial Blue "Sapphires" (made in China) are sometimes set incorrectly and do not align properly or exactly at 12 (slightly off center) That is why featured photography is not straight on but taken at an angle in order to fool the eye
The bezel which originally fluted and solid gold has been replaced with a gold-plated flat bezel studded with diamonds and artificial baguette sapphires Such bezels are made in China and feature diamonds with a value of $5 per diamond. The flat bezel itself costs $10 The cost of manufacture of such a bezel in the People's Republic of China is approximately $150 USD and have proliferated the US market
The lugs are studded with 4 low quality diamonds which after a short time of use will most likely pop out of the case
The dial made out of artificial mother of pearl (People's Republic of China) is not an original Rolex dial and has been completely faked and is signed incorrectly as Swiss made instead of the correct method for model Rolex 16013 which is T Swiss T
The diamond setting on the dial is set in gold-plated frames where original Rolex was set in solid 18k gold frames each has a value of about $10
The original model 16013 model utilized acrylic crystal but the above-mentioned diamond watch has had its crystal replaced with a sapphire $10 Chinese crystal in order to accommodate the different bezel
Attention: diamond setting on the case may cause the Rolex case to become warped and render it unusable! It is no longer possible to return it to its original design.
As you can see an easy profit of $4,000-$5,000 can be made by creating such a Franken Rolex but is it ethical? An educated buyer will decide.
Which watch do you think will increase in value over time?
Let's do the numbers:
Alastair Majury, MA Economics, University of Glasgow "In red we marked how the original 1957 price of $150 would have changed had it followed monetary inflation only. The math is simple behind this one. If we adjust the original $150 price from 1957 with inflation to 2014 US Dollars, we end up with a price of $1,265 while the watch actually costs $7,500 today." https://www.quora.com/How-much-did-a-Rolex-cost-in-the-1970s