When it comes to fine luxury watches, it doesn’t get any better than Patek Philippe. Known for its fantastic designs, impeccable movements and flawless finishes, Patek Philippe is considered by many to be the pinnacle of high-end Swiss watchmaking. Unfortunately, this reputation can also gain the wrong kind of attention, especially from counterfeiters.

Certain models of Patek Philippe, such as the Nautilus, Aquatimer and Complication, are so popular that counterfeiters keep copying them in search of quick (and illegal) money. So how do you protect yourself from inadvertently buying a Patek Philippe watch? Unfortunately, replicas are getting better and better, and it’s getting harder and harder to identify genuine watches, including ultra-exclusive brands like Patek Philippe. But we are here to help. Here are five ways on how to spot a fake Patek Philippe watch.

If you’re prepared to spend a lot of money to own a Patek Philippe watch, it’s a good idea to do your research first. Find out the reference number of the Patek Philippe watch you want to buy and look up as much information about it as you can. Find out about the style, size, material, dial colour, strap and bracelet type, and movement of the watch.

For example, some references are not available in stainless steel, some come with straps only and not bracelets, some offer only one or two dial colour options, and some use manual-winding movements rather than automatic movements. You should know this information before you pull the trigger. The more you know about the watch, the more likely you are to spot any red flags of a Patek Philippe watch.

Patek Philippe has built its reputation for impeccable quality and finishing on purity. Its watches are carefully crafted and go through a series of quality control checks. Therefore, the quality of Patek Philippe watches should not be in question.

One way to identify a Patek Philippe is to pick up a magnifying glass and examine the dial. The details on a Patek Philippe dial, whether it be the hands, indexes, luminescent application, printing or decoration, should be flawless.

The level of quality of the case construction is also something you should look into when identifying a Patek Philippe watch. The case of a Patek Philippe watch is usually thicker than the genuine article to accommodate the movement inside.

Check the proportions of the lugs to the edges of the case, as well as the quality of the brushed or polished surfaces – if anything looks out of place or not at the highest level, then it’s likely to be a fake.

The case should also be stamped to indicate the purity of the metal, the quality standard and the manufacturer’s provenance. For example, “750” is the metal purity mark for 18K gold and “950” is the metal purity mark for 95% pure platinum.

Patek Philippe’s serial and reference numbers are located on the inside of the case back of watches with solid case backs. On the other hand, Patek Philippe watches with exhibition backs will have their serial and reference numbers on the inner edge. The reference number is also known as the model number.

The best way to protect yourself from being duped by a Patek Philippe is to buy only from a reputable seller, whether it is a new watch from an authorized retailer or a pre-owned watch from a trusted dealer.

If you are buying a pre-owned replica  Patek Philippe watch, look for a dealer who is experienced in buying and selling pre-owned Patek Philippe watches. They will do their homework for you and check the authenticity of the watch. A reputable dealer will have in-house watchmakers who can meticulously check any timepiece to make sure it is genuine.