Although identifying a genuine Breitling from a fake my seem a daunting task at first, there are many simple checks you can make which will pick out most of the fakes. The high quality replicas need more careful examination but the top tips listed below are a good starting point for you to see if the watch you are interested in is genuine.
GENUINE Tip 1 - The Tourbillon FAKE
A tourbillon is a device designed to counteract the effects of gravity that can minutely effect the accuracy of a watch. Just one Breitling watch, the Mulliner Tourbillon, has this feature. Only a handful of these custom made watches, which cost over £100,000, are made each year. The genuine Mulliner is shown on the left and features the tourbillon at the six o'clock position.
This is one of the easiest ways to spot a fake Breitling. If the watch you're looking at has what looks like a tourbillon, it's a FAKE. Since the tourbillon is a complex and very expensive mechanism to make, the fakes simply have a hole in the face to show part of the standard watch mechanism whirring around. The example on the right is the best Mulliner replica I've found. Most simply add a fake tourbillon to a standard watch.
GENUINE Tip 2 -The Cost FAKE
The cheapest Breitling watch costs around £1,000 brand new. A genuine used or "pre-owned" model is, therefore, going to cost at least £500. This is for a simple watch with no sub-dials, the small dials which are used like a stop-watch. A chronograph, which has the sub-dials, is likely to be around twice the cost. There are hundreds, probably thousands, of watch collectors who are on the look-out for bargains every day. They know the true worth of a watch and so if you think you've found a bargain, you haven't. You've found a FAKE.
Tip 3 - The Chronolog
Each year, Breitling produce a catalogue of their watches called a Chronolog. This has pictures and techical details of all their watches and is the best reference book you can have to check if a watch is real. The Chronolog is available free of charge from any Breitling authorised distributor.
When you see a watch you're interested in buying, compare it to what you see in the Chronolog. However, do be aware that like any manufacturer, Breitling regularly update their models so if it is several years old, it may have changed. In this case, you can always ask on one of the Breitling forums for expert opinion. My personal collection of Chronologs stretches back 14 years so there is a wealth of information at your disposal if you ask!
Tip 4 - The Seller
A golden rule is "Buy the seller - then buy the watch". We all have to start somewhere but you should take great care if you chose to bid on an item being sold by a new seller with low or zero feedback rather than a well established internet retailer.
GENUINE Tip 5 - Poor Photos FAKE
We can't all be David Bailey with a camera but when someone is selling a $5,000 watch, you would expect them to have a $50 digital camera to take some reasonable photos. If the listing has fuzzy, distant, or just a single small photo, it is likely the seller is trying to hide something. If they can't provide better photos, walk away.
GENUINE Tip 6 - Box & Papers FAKE
One of the best sights you can see is a full set of boxes and paperwork which came with the original watch. Whilst the package varies from watch to watch, there is usually an outer carboard box, an inner bakerlite box, instruction book, warranty and COSC certificate.
Beware of sellers who use fake boxes. There are all sorts of Breitling watches being sold with a fake Crosswind Special box, instruction manual and hang tag so look closely.
Tip 7 - Auction Sites
No matter how much some people accuse eBay of allowing fakes to be sold on their site, they do at least make some attempt to remove fakes from their sites if reported and the vast majority of Breitlings sold on eBay are genuine.
Other auction sites such as cqout and ioffer seem to have no such interest in removing fakes and 99% of Breitlings on these sites are very poor quality fakes.
GENUINE Tip 8 - Display Backs FAKE One of the most beautiful and rare features of Breitling watches is the display back. Only a very few limited editions have this feature but some fakes use a display back to show a cheap Chinese movement with Breitling engraved on it. Don't be fooled! GENUINE Tip 9 - Breitling for Audi FAKE Breitling are associated with Bentley automobiles, not Audi. This four sub-dials in a line dubbed "Breitling for Audi" is a pure fantasy! GENUINE Tip 10- The Emergency
FAKE The genuine Breitling Emergency watch has a built in VHF transmitter which broadcasts on the international distress frequency of 121.5. Since the fake watch obviously does not have this feature, the container is used to house a "hidden compas" which is probably less accurate than the watch!