Imitation is the best form of flattery. Except when you’re talking about faked goods. The Audemars Piguet Royal Oak and Offshore models are such a big hit worldwide that the counterfeiters have gotten busy whipping up a bunch of fakes. Fortunately, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection were on top of their game and were able to find over 1000 phony AP watches hidden among other legit brands, the street value worth a cool $28.7 million.
Asia is the biggest culprit in manufacturing replicas and this case was no exception. According to a Laredo CBP field operations acting director, over 60% of fakes in 2011 originated in China. Watches drive a lot of business, ranking 7th in product confiscation overall last year.
Although we watch enthusiasts wouldn’t ever consider buying a replica, some of them are getting really good, especially if they are copies of rare and valuable pieces. The Audemar Piguets happened to be really crappy copies that wouldn’t fool anyone familiar with the brand, but there are a lot of uneducated buyers.
Let’s be careful out there.