You are currently viewing How to spot a fake affordable watch (Seiko/Orient/Citizen)

It is very common to see fake high-end watches, such as Rolex, Patek Philippe, Audemars Piguet and many more brands. What you probably don't know is that entry-level brands, such as Seiko and Orient have replicas too.

It is important to know how to differentiate the real deal from a fake model. This is even more true if you plan on buying a second-hand timepiece.  This article will help you make you sure you buy an authentic affordable watch.

Why are affordable watches also replicated?

It might be a shock to you that affordable watches are also victim of the counterfeit market. It is easier to understand why someone would buy a 100$ Rolex replica instead of the 20 000$ real model.

It gets a little harder to understand why someone would get a fake Seiko watch, when you can get it for a few hundreds of dollars. The problem is, most of the time, people who buy fake affordable watches aren't aware they are doing so.

Counterfeit goods sellers will do about anything to make a few dollars. This often means sticking well-known logos on generic watches to sell them easily.

What to look out for

When you get the chance to see and handle the timepiece before you buy it, it usually is pretty easy to spot a fake model.

Your first reflex might be to look at the strap, but this might not giveaway a fake. Some counterfeit sellers will use the same manufacturer as original brands, which means they might have the same quality of band. 


Looking at the dial is one of the easiest way to spot a fake watch in person. I will give a few example of things to look out for, but you should avoid any watches with unusual dial elements.

source: Amazon / watchuseek user halfapie

Above is a great example of a fake Seiko 5. On the left, you see the real model, while the counterfeit one is on the right. At first glance, you can't really see any difference. 

To notice the counterfeit model, you have to read the very small characters at the bottom of the dial. The fake one reads 7009, a caliber that wasn't ever used on this particular Seiko 5 model.

Unfortunately, you need to be a watch geek to know this fact, and 90% of consumers won't notice this kind of trickery.

source: ebay / reddit user owemeacent

Above is a much more obvious example of a fake dial. The counterfeit Orient Tristar, on the right, has a very sketchy logo. 

Even if the picture is a bit blurry, you can clearly see the lack of detail in the lions holding up the banner. Also, the tips of the crown don't have the same quality of details.

Another dead giveaway is the date display, which doesn't even show the day.

Case Back

There are several elements to look for on a watch case back to spot a fake model. The first is the material. Most watches these days use stainless steel for the case. Some fake watch manufacturers will use different materials based on availability in their region (often China).

source: Watchuseek user halfapie

For example, the fake Seiko case above is engraved with the word stainless steel, but upon further analysis, the owner realized it is actually made of chrome plated brass.

source: Youtube user Just One More Watch

In some more extreme cases (such as the one pictured above), fake manufacturers won't even go through the trouble of replicating the engravings on the case back, they will simply leave the stainless steel blank. 


Without a doubt, the movement is the easiest way to know if a timepiece is fake. Manufacturers simply can't replicate in a perfect manner the in-house movements developed by Seiko, Orient, etc.. 

Instead, they try to make a new one that resembles the original caliber, using cheaper pieces, and therefore, being much more fragile.

source: Watchuseek user halfapie

Above is a prime example of a cheap replica automatic movement. To the untrained eye, it might look like a perfectly normal movement. 

Experienced watch collectors will instantly notice the lack of details in this movement. First of all, Seiko is known to stamp almost every piece with their logo. 

Below is a real Seiko 7009 movement with all the markings. It is easier to notice the differences when you have both movements side by side.


The images below represent a much more obvious example of a ''Feiko'' movement. This one uses extremely cheap parts, such as the plastic outer rim. These manufacturers hope that you won't ever open your watch, as anyone could tell this is fake.

source: Youtube user TTINKOGNITO

Misalignments/Uneven edges

After the movement, misalignments are the second easiest way to tell a watch is fake. You need to be cautious though, because some authentic watches will sometimes have small misalignments such as uneven hour marks.

This doesn't mean your watch is fake, what tells you if it's a replica is the presence of multiple misalignments and uneven edges.

I don't really have a picture to prove my point, since you need to look at the timepiece really closely to notice most unaligned elements. It also helps if you can see and touch the watch in person, as it will be the easiest way to feel the uneven edges.

Youtuber ''Just One More Watch'' does a great job at showing different misalignments and sharp edges in the following video.

Most common misalignments are hour marks, day-date features and bezel. Uneven edges can often be noticed on the bracelet, deployant clasps, lugs and case back.


You can't tell a watch is fake only on the basis that you've never seen a similar model before. There are several instances where watch collectors gathered several unused parts from japanese watch factories to create custom timepieces from original parts.

This happens most of the times when brands such as Seiko or Orient close several factories and leave the remaining parts in the abandoned buildings. The enthusiasts then raid the place and take every single piece they can.

source: Watchuseek user Boltz1976

As long as they are disclaimed as frankenwatches, these timepieces are perfectly fine and some are even collectible. The difference between a fake and a frankenwatch is the latter will only use original parts.


When you're buying a watch online, it is nearly impossible to know if you are buying a real model by looking at the images. Often, counterfeit sellers will use photos of a real watch  to sell their replicas.

The best way to know a watch is fake online is by studying the average price at legit retailers, such as the watchmaking company, or Amazon and such. If the price you're getting is much lower than that, you're best bet is to steer clear.

The phrase ''too good to be true'', really applies here.  If you see an ''incredible'' deal on a website that's not well established, you simply can't be sure it will be authentic.

This also goes for websites such as Wish or eBay. you need to be very careful and vigilant when buying timepieces on these platforms.


To wrap up this article, I must say that the best way to avoid fake watches is to stick with legitimate retailers, even if that means paying a bit more.

If you have the chance to see the watch before buying it, you should take your time to manipulate it and look at every elements very closely before taking it home.

I encourage you to share any bad experiences you've had with fake affordable watches, or even mid-range brands. If you have any other tips to detect replicas, feel free to leave a comment below!

This Post Has 26 Comments

  1. Frank Elia

    Great article.
    Ironically enough while recently in Cuba I encountered a lot of the locals wearing orient watches, they confided to me that they were indeed fake, And only cost a few pesos

    1. Romeo's Watches

      Thanks for your comment Frank!

  2. Danica Ocayo

    Hi can I ask what if the number at the back of the seiko watch is only 5 number is that fake or real?

    1. Romeo's Watches

      Hi Danica, I need to know the exact Seiko model you’re talking about to anwser your question.

      1. SMC01

        I bought a SRP789 (Seiko Turtle Coke bezel) off of EBay. I thought it was coming from Japan, but it turned out to be coming from China. It took forever to get to me and when I finally got it I gave it a thorough going over. What I didn’t notice from the sellers pictures was that the movement engraving on the back didn’t match what was on the dial. From the front it looked great. On the back it even had the tsunami logo, but it wasn’t lined up correctly with the rest of the engraving. It did have a seiko movement in it though. Still…it was a Feiko. I contacted the seller and he tried to make a deal with me to partially refund me and I could keep the watch. I’m not into wearing fakes so I said I’m sending it back for a refund. The seller gave me an address in China and stated to send it back via regular post. I followed their instructions to the letter and kept screen shots of all the communications. A month went by and no refund. I contacted the seller again and they said they hadn’t received it and wouldn’t refund me until they received it. I ended up disputing it with EBay who refunded me (thankfully!) as the vendor wasn’t selling the genuine article. This vendor ended up pulling all their other Feikos and now only sells Corgeut, Parnis and other mushroom brands.

        1. Romeo's Watches

          Glad to hear you got your money back!

  3. Bluetan20

    I got screwed and bought a fake Orient though the photo was a real Orient, what arrived was not!

    1. Romeo's Watches

      I’m sorry to hear that. Unfortunately, there is no surefire way to avoid buying a fake watch, especially when buying a timepiece online. I hope this won’t happen to you again!

  4. Tawfique

    Recently at November 2019 I bought a Seiko 5 automatic wrist watch model SNZF15J1. I continuously used that watch for 12 hours and left for 12 hours. I found my watch stopped. But in watch description it is written that it should reserve winding power for 40 hours. Is my Seiko watch authentic ? Do I need to go to the watch repair store ? Do I need a watch winder if I don’t want to wear my watch always especially when I am at home ?

    1. Romeo's Watches

      Hello Tawfique,

      Indeed, the SNZF15J1 is equipped with Seiko’s 7s36 movement, which has around 40 hours of power reserve. To make sure your watch is fully wound, it is important to shake it for at least a minute or two before putting it on. If you find that the watch still stops after 12 hours even when you shake it correctly, you should contact the store that sold it to you. They should be able to replace it with a new one since you bought it less than a month ago. If they’re not cooperative, you could always send it back to Seiko to get it repaired under warranty, but you will probably have to pay for shipping.

      To know if your watch is authentic, I would need to know where you bought it.

      Let me know if there’s something else you need help with!

  5. winston golledge

    I purchased a so called citizen Blue Angels watch from ‘Wish’ ,supposedly solar and also atomic clock regulated. However there is no serial number on the back of the watch so likely fake. I paid $35 whereas the real version would be $500.

    1. Romeo's Watches

      Hey Winston,

      I never buy any watch from Wish as they are almost certainly all fake.

      Thanks for your input!

  6. Wan

    Seiko snn167p2 isit genuine?

  7. Wan

    Does seiko SNN167P exist?

    1. Romeo's Watches

      Hey Wan!

      It is a real model, but Seiko stopped its production a long time ago, so you won’t be able to find a brand new example. Your best bet is to get one from a reputable source on the pre-owned market.

  8. Henning

    There are a lot of Citizen watches for sale on the internet with the model number ctz-6618. They all look different. So I wonder if they’re fakes or generic fake watches with a Citizen logo on.

    1. Romeo's Watches

      Hey Henning,

      I’ve never heard about this model before, and there doesn’t seem to be too much information about it around. In this case, I think it’s always best to be safe and get a known watch instead.

      Have a great day!

  9. Anonymous

    I have a Longines watch which I can’t decide is a fake or not. The movement looks identical to the one used in the genuine article. I looked it up on Cousins materials house UK. But the bracelet has a warm, rounded feel I normally associate with cheap Chinese watches, though the quality and stamping seem acceptable.

  10. Anonymous

    I have a fake Seiko prospex and without even looking at the glass back it fails by not stopping the second hand when pulling out the crown. Looking at the face it looks very good and the second hand moves very smoothly.

  11. Homer Jarvis

    I have a fake orient 22 jewel auto wind that looks real enough but it’s supposed to have a stainless case and it’s turning copper color which tells me it’s not stainless, it does keep good time for a mechanical watch about + 1 minute a week, I ordered it from one of those cheap Chinese shops on line, not much invested so it makes a good work watch.

  12. Homer Jarvis

    I have a fake orient 22 jewel auto wind that looks real enough but it’s supposed to have a stainless case and it’s turning copper color which tells me it’s not stainless, it does keep good time for a mechanical watch about + 1 minute a week, I ordered it from one of those cheap Chinese shops on line, not much invested so it makes a good work watch.

  13. Bob

    I think you are only partially right. Orient for instance manufacture watches in Hong Kong but use the Orient Japanese movement. Their cases may differ for the eastern market as opposed to the ones found in official imports in the West this does not make them fake. I suspect you may be an expensive dealer who like everything else sold in the US and western Europe is 3x as expensive as it is in Asia.

  14. Anonymous

    It’s probably a genuine orient movement stuck in a poorer quality asian case. I have never seen a fake orient only ones made for the car easy which still have the Japanese movement in an often poorer case of strap.

  15. Anonymous

    Car easy car easy

  16. J.J Canada

    Hey, quick question: some say if the Orient dial does not have small writing “Mov’t Japan plus model number” this watch is a fake. Is that true? I’m looking to buy Kamasu (red dial) unfortunately in Canada I do not see a store that would offer such a piece, only Amazon. With Amazon, you never know where they get the stuff.

  17. peter Sutherland

    Great article. I would add that the FAKE orient and alot of seiko fakes look at the BRACELET/STRAP look at the stamping of ORIENT or SEIKO the engravings are lumpy ENGRAVED WITH DOTS. clear pointer that what you are looking at isnt correct

Leave a Reply