They say imitation is a form of flattery, but counterfeit luxury watches are a trend we shouldn’t be wasting our time on.
A 2016 report on “The economic cost of IPR infringement in the jewelry and watches sector” by the European Observatory on Infringements of Intellectual Property Rights found that:
- The legitimate watchmaking and jewellery industry loses around €9 billion in annual revenue as a result of the presence of counterfeit watches and jewelleries in the EU market.
- Counterfeiting in this sector causes a loss of sales worth around €5 billion to the EU economy, leading to the loss of 28,500 jobs and €600 million in government revenues.
Not much has changed in recent years as counterfeit luxury goods seized by law enforcement agencies consist mostly of watches, leather goods and branded sunglasses, according to a EUIPO 2019 study on the Trends in Trade in Counterfeit and Pirated Goods.
In Switzerland, the watch industry is considered as one of the most important sectors of the Swiss economy with exports worth 21.2 billion Swiss francs, over 3% of Swiss GDP, in 2018. According to the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry FH , the Swiss watch industry produces around 30 million original watches, and yet, tens of millions of fake Swiss watches are offered for sale every year. Fake watches account for 9% of customs seizures, placing watches second only to textiles as the most counterfeited products.
A Waste of Time
In August 2020, US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers assigned at the Port of Cincinnati seized 85 counterfeit luxury watches. Had the supposed Swiss luxury brand made it to the market disguised as genuine pieces, the retail value of the watches would have been over USD$5.8 million.
In November 2020, CBP officers based in Louisville, Kentucky seized 200 counterfeit luxury watches with a retail value of more than USD$2.6 million had they been genuine.
In December 2020, two shipments of counterfeit jewellery and watches were seized by CBP officers in Cincinnati. Included in the seizure were 171 different items of high end jewelleries and watches. The authentic version of one of the branded counterfeit watches seized would normally retail at USD $500,000. Had all the items been genuine, the suggested retail price would have totaled around USD $8.4 million.
Fake Goods, Real Dangers
The CBP has launched ‘Fake Goods, Real Dangers’, an educational initiative containing information about the downsides of purchasing counterfeit goods. It aims to raise consumer awareness about the consequences and dangers that are often associated with the purchase of counterfeit and pirated goods.
For counterfeiters and criminals, time is gold and the luxury watch industry is a target for easy money. Which is why anti-counterfeiting and brand protection solutions are core requirements for any company seeking to protect their value, reputation, revenue and profits. It’s never too late for luxury watch makers to take proactive steps to protect their brands.