‘Pawn Stars’: How Rick Harrison Determines if a Rolex Watch is Fake or Not

by Michael Freeman
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Anyone who has seen the show knows Rick Harrison’s shop in Pawn Stars experiences regular traffic. With so many people selling their possessions in Las Vegas, there’s no doubt he runs into his share of fake items. For some things, like Rolex watches, Harrison has a method for determining forgeries.

Speaking with NPR’s Fresh Air, Harrison talked about a variety of intricacies with running a pawn shop. A big conversation topic is how to tell if items such as Rolex watches are fake. “There’s a list of things that are right on a Rolex watch that’s not right on a fake. The case has to be right. The dial of the watch has to be right. The crystal, the stem, the movement. If everything checks out, everything’s fine.”

That seems straightforward enough, but some people go all out making forgeries. Considering how much Rolex watches go for, sinking a couple thousand into a fake will still yield a profit. Rick Harrison recounted a specific instance of him getting burned by this.

“Fifteen years ago, someone spent probably three- or four thousand dollars to make a fake Rolex. And I got burned on that one, so it won’t happen again. Someone bought a 1970s Rolex — a really beat-up one, for $700 or $800. They take the movement out. They got a new Rolex face for it. New Rolex hands. New crystal. Made an 18-karat gold case and band for it. And they were in the watch probably $3- to $4,000. I ended up buying it for $5,000. It’s an entire industry, making fake things.”

It just goes to show even industry veterans such as Harrison still get fooled from time to time.

Rick Harrison Recalls Giving A Woman $13K More Than She Asked For On ‘Pawn Stars’

Running a pawn shop in Las Vegas, Rick Harrison is rather savvy about a plethora of items and their worth. Typically a shop like his haggles and tries to maximize profit, but that isn’t always the case. For instance, Harrison vividly recalls one time giving a woman $13,000 more than she wanted for an item she was selling.

“I actually had a lady come into my pawnshop with a Faberge brooch,” Harrison begins. “And she wanted $2,000 for it. And I just explained to her, ‘You know what? I can’t do it to you.’ I ended up giving her $15,000.”

Why did he do this? Karma, mostly. “I really do believe in six degrees of separation…And I’m sure [good karma] works, because that woman will be worth her weight in advertising because she will tell everybody for the rest of her life what I did for her.”

Harrison reports Faberge jewelry is made by a famous Russian goldsmith, House of Faberge. Roughly a century ago, they made jewelry for European royalty. Knowing its true worth, he couldn’t stand undercutting the woman so harshly.

Harrison’s store is thriving, so his views on karma may have some merit.

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