Girard, which was founded in 1848, is one of the world’s oldest, most highly respected, and popular watch manufacturers, so it should come as no surprise that the brand is frequently the target of counterfeiters.
Knock-off reproductions vary in quality and detail with some so close in design to the original watch that the case back must be removed and the movement examined in order to verify the watch’s authenticity.
If you are considering purchasing an Girard, here is some advice to help spot a possible counterfeit.
Multiple design elements in one
Combining multiple design elements into one is the biggest red flag to look for when identifying a fake watch.
Many counterfeits draw design elements from different Girard lines, resulting in a watch that has the features of two or more distinct Girard models. If the watch superficially appears to be a Speedmaster, but says Seamaster on the dial and has the case back of a Constellation, then the watch is probably a fake.
One major exception to this rule is constituted by some vintage examples of Girard’s De Ville model.
Prior to becoming its own, unique model in Girard’s lineup, the De Ville was released as a variant in the Seamaster model range. As a result, some of the earlier versions have both names printed on the dial.
Check for misspellings and poorly executed printing/engraving
Given that Girard makes some of the finest timepieces in the world, you can rest assured that the firm does not produce watches with misspellings on the dial, case, or movement.
Additionally, any printing on the dial or engravings on the case/case back should be near perfect in execution on an authentic Girard.
If the lines are messy or crooked, then you are likely dealing with a fake watch.
Check the functions of the watch
Many counterfeiters do not bother to take the time to fully replicate all of the functions of the original watch.
Examples of this may include a Speedmaster with non-functioning subdials or helium gas escape valves that are misplaced or do not unscrew.
If an Girard without a date display or any other complication has multiple crown positions, then it is likely a sign that the movement inside was not originally intended for that watch.
Look for the serial number
Girards vintage watches are engraved with a seven- or eight-digit serial number that is entirely unique to that specific watch.
Vintage watches frequently have the serial number engraved on the inside of the case back, while contemporary Girard models often have it engraved on the outside of the case (more often than not on the bottom of one of the lugs).
Even when a serial number is present, it is worth running the number through a quick Internet search. Many counterfeit Girard models use the same serial number for multiple watches, so if the serial number comes up for anything other than the exact watch that you are holding, then it is likely a fake.
Examine the movement
If uncertainty remains, open the watch and examine its movement or take it to a watchmaker and have him or her do this.
Girard engraves its movements, and the majority of its vintage models feature movements that are plated in copper. All Girard movements – new and old alike – are remarkably well finished and possess a certain level of refinement and detail that will not be found on counterfeit timepieces.
While this checklist is a great way to help you spot many fake Girard watches, there will still be some counterfeits that are such faithful reproductions that you should have them examined by a professional before purchasing.