x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Dealers use UAE website to offer copy watches not quite on face value

Fake watches are peddled openly on Dubai trading sites, such as Dubizzle. But what can be done to stop these dealers?

DUBAI // Dealers are ignoring laws against selling counterfeit goods and peddling fake Rolex watches on websites such as Dubizzle.

One, who includes his phone number in advertisements, has a number of models in stock.

He describes one, a platinum Yacht-Master 40mm, as "Swiss-made AAA", a designation used to describe replicas. He warns buyers not to confuse it with lower-quality copies made in Asia, and the ad includes a section headed: "What makes a Swiss-made copy different from other Rolex replicas?"

The list price for a genuine Yacht-Master 40mm is Dh41,000, while the fake is available on Dubizzle for Dh1,800. The replica is described as brand new, still in the original packaging and perfect inside and out.

Other Rolex replicas available from the same dealer include a Datejust II, Submariner and Daytona.

A variety of other replicas are available on Dubizzle, including copies of watches by makers such as Omega, Cartier, Ulysse Nardin and Hublot.

Other counterfeit items advertised on the site include designer handbags and mobile phones.

Ahmed Sawalhi, head of customer support at Dubizzle, said: "Our policy is that we do allow replica items to be posted on Dubizzle, but the ad must clearly state that the item is a replica.

"We do not condone scams where our users are deceived. In the instance that a brand complains to us and requests that we remove ads for replicas of their products, we always collaborate and remove stated replica listings for that brand.

"We have not received any formal request from the UAE police or government to remove such ads."

Counterfeit goods are also available on other websites, based in the UAE and overseas.

One dealer, who gave his name as Abdulla, even has a Facebook page, dubaiswissreplica. He said he was not concerned that dealing so openly in counterfeit goods could lead to prosecution.

"You get replicas in Dubai a lot, they're everywhere," Abdulla said. "Some people sell a copy and say it's an original Rolex and that's fraud. I wouldn't want to risk that."

Omar Shteiwi, chairman of Brand Owners Protection Group in Dubai, said selling replicas was illegal.

"However, with digital media and e-commerce nowadays you will find lots of these counterfeited items offered for sale," Mr Shteiwi said. "The consumer should be aware and vigilant not to buy.

"I think the brand owner, Rolex, needs to take legal action. However, because of the size of the counterfeit problem worldwide, usually this type of owner does not react to such illegal activity."

Cases involving trademark infringement in Dubai are investigated by the Department of Economic Development's commercial compliance and consumer protection division. The maximum fine for such an offence is Dh30,000.

Fake Rolex watches were among the items in a three-tonne haul of counterfeit goods seized by Dubai Customs last December.

Improvements in the quality of some Rolex copies over the past few years can make it difficult to tell if a watch is a fake.

One tell-tale sign is the distinctive motion of a real Rolex mechanism, where the second hand moves eight times each second.

If the movement is continuous or jerky, the watch is a fake.

csimpson@thenational.ae