In order to always stay ahead of the counterfeiters, Rolex introduced various safety details, some of which are described here in more detail:
From 2002 onward, Rolex introduced a new security feature to take into account the ever-improving counterfeiting: the laser etched crown on the sapphire glass. This laser etched crown is located at the lower edge of the glass at 6 o’clock and is so small that it can barely be seen with the naked eye. The easiest way to find the crown is to shine a bright light at an angle on the glass and to look at the glass from the opposite side. Usually only a small spot is visible on the glass, which then becomes a crown with the help of a magnifying glass.
The laser etched crown was not introduced on all models at the same time. It was first found on the Air King, Submariner (without date), Explorer and Daytona models. It can be said with certainty that today, on every newly delivered model, this laser etched crown is found, as well as on other models followed with the Y series (autumn 2002). Other sources report that the introduction lasted until at least the end of 2003, perhaps even until early 2004. Watches manufactured between 2002 and early 2004 may already have possessed this safety feature, but not necessarily, depending on the reference, so far.
When the sapphire glass is replaced, this laser-etched crown is also present in the new glass. The crown, however, looks a little different: within the laser etched crown, an additional laser etched “S” for “service.”
Although Rolex introduced the laser-etched crown as a new safety feature, it was not long before counterfeits had a crown in the glass. At the time, however, this was probably still mechanically etched, resulting in a thicker, more transparent structure. This can be easily seen with the naked eye, and is therefore easy to determine as a counterfeit. However, it is only a matter of time until better, laser etched crowns appear on the market, so you should not assume you are safe when you spot a laser etched crown.
As a distinctive mark of a genuine Rolex, Rolex delivers new watches with a sticker placed on the back of the case.
Watches with newer dates (since about 2002) have a green hologram sticker. The letters of the company name (R-O-L-E-X), which are always repeated without spaces between them, are displayed as holograms. The name Rolex can be read horizontally and vertically due to the arrangement of the letters. In the middle of the sticker is a crown (the Rolex trademark), also hologram. Under the crown, the reference number is “normally” printed in black. This reference number is removed quickly when worn, so that only the sticker with the hologram remains. Therefore it can quite quickly be ascertained whether or not a watch being offered is really “new and unworn” or worn (at least for a short time) if the print is missing in whole or in part.
It makes sense to remove the sticker immediately after purchasing, because bacteria gather on the edge of the sticker, which is an ideal place for them to reproduce – not a nice thought to have them crawling on the skin every day. With a razor or carpet knife, the sticker can be removed perfectly and without damage, so that it can be saved for the collector.
Before the hologram stickers there were “simple” green stickers without the hologram, with the golden crown and reference number and even before that, there were golden stickers with a printed black circle above and below the reference numbers.
It is now barely possible to determine the authenticity of a watch by means of the sticker. Nowadays, imitation hologram stickers are even available on the Internet. Older fake stickers are only rarely really good and they can immediately be exposed as fakes. In the past, fake numbers were often printed which did not correspond to a reference number. Perhaps this is the reason why Rolex has delivered all watches since mid 2007 without this sticker. Only a clear sticker is applied for protection to which the reference number is printed.
In conclusion: These stickers do not offer sufficient security to prevent buying a fake. The authenticity should therefore always be confirmed by a professional dealer (concessionaire). A purchase at the concessionaire is, of course, the safest way to protect yourself.