How to Tell a Fake vs. Real Cartier Watch

a person with a watch on her hand

When investing or simply purchasing a luxury timepiece like a Cartier watch, making the difference between a genuine piece and a counterfeit is crucial.

This guide will equip you with insights to identify the authenticity of Cartier watches, focusing on key elements that set apart a real Cartier from a fake one.

Whether you're a seasoned watch enthusiast or a first-time buyer, understanding the nuances can help you make an informed purchase. Nobody wants to waste money on a fake watch, right?

But if you still feel like you need the eye of a professional to decide whether to buy a particular Cartier timepiece or not, don’t hesitate to use our luxury watch authentication service!

Table of contents


When checking if a Cartier watch is real, focus on its weight. Genuine Cartier watches, made from top-notch materials like steel or precious metals, have a solid and bulky feel. You will always feel its presence on your wrist, which will never happen with a fake aluminum knock-off.

The sapphire crystal glass on the dial, known for being resistant to scratches, also contributes to the watch's weight. The same with the mechanism and the interiors, which are also made out of precious metals.

If the Cartier watch feels too light, it might be a fake, as genuine Cartier watches are recognized for their weight and sturdy build.

Inscriptions and Case Back

When checking if a Cartier watch is real, examine the case back for engraved details. Real Cartier watches have clear engravings like the 4-digit model number, the Cartier logo, "water-resistant," "Swiss Made," and a serial number with two letters and four to six digits.

Some models might mention "automatic" or "stainless steel." Look not just at the content but also the quality of the engraving. Genuine Cartier watches show precise, deep engravings, while fakes may have unclear, light, or messy lettering.

Real watches usually have a solid case back, while some fakes may have transparent case backs. However, that depends on the model you’ve chosen.

Cartier watch case back

Dial Details and Luminosity

Check the dial for authentic Cartier watch details. Genuine watches have precise guilloché decoration, a consistent circular wave pattern, and "Swiss Made" near the 6 o'clock marker.

Look for the hidden CARTIER signature in capital letters between the 7 and 10 o'clock markers. Authentic Cartier watches feature sharp printing and consistent fonts on the dial. In contrast, counterfeits may show fuzzy printing, uneven fonts, or misaligned features.

Genuine Cartier watches use high-quality luminous materials for visibility in the dark, while counterfeits often have poor luminosity, resulting in a dim or no glow.

Signature Blue Details

Authentic Cartier watches are recognized for their unique blue details on hands and crowns, prominent in popular collections like Santos, Tank, Panthère, Ballon Bleu, and Ronde.

The steel hands are carefully painted in a brilliant sapphire blue. Another distinct feature is the sapphire cabochon stone on the crown, expertly set in place, not glued.

Genuine Cartier watches ensure quality with matching blue hands and a signature blue cabochon, a polished gemstone capping the winding mechanism on the right.

In contrast, counterfeit watches may lack precision in color and finish, showing inaccuracies in the blue elements that signal potential authenticity concerns.

Cartier watch blue crown

The Screws

When checking a real Cartier watch, look at the screws holding the case. Authentic Cartier watches have flathead screws that are the same throughout the watch.

Fake watches might use Phillips screws with a criss-cross pattern, which is different from Cartier's flathead design. Real Cartier watches don't have cases that just snap on; they use flathead screws on the front and back, securing the case over the dials and movement.

Fake watches might have Phillips head screws or fake screws that look like stamps, showing they're not real Cartier watches. Watch out for the screws to know if a Cartier watch is genuine.

comparison of real and fake Cartier watch screws

Cartier Watch Serial Number

Verify your Cartier watch's authenticity by checking its 8-digit serial number on the case back. It consists of 2 letters and 4 to 6 numbers.

Ensure the serial number matches the details on the certificate of authenticity (COA). Genuine Cartier watches always have a precise serial number, and a mismatch with the COA indicates potential counterfeiting.

Authorized dealers supply a COA with each watch, specifying its origin, production date, and materials. Pay attention to the 8-character serial number and the 4-digit case reference, indicating movement, shape, size, and design.

Be cautious of fake Cartier with poorly etched or generic serial numbers. For additional verification, use Cartier's official online tool or contact the company directly.

Additional Authenticity Markers

Here are some additional markers you can use to make sure that you’re buying the real deal:


Cartier is a very expensive brand. Watches made by them are sold and bought for thousands of dollars each, which means that buying a $400 Cartier watch would be almost impossible.

Of course, very popular or old models can be sold by previous owners for less money than retail, but keep in mind that an 80% or above price reduction means that the watch is fake almost every time.

Seller Reputation

The world of watches is not that simple. There are reputable second-hand dealers, which have connections within the industry and always sell the real deal.

Such individuals, like Nico Leonard, value reputation higher than money, and will never sell you a fake watch.

Second-hand dealers with no reputation, on the other hand, are in the business of making money, and they don’t care if they sell you a fake watch.

They don’t have any connections in the industry, don’t talk with the watch brands, and can take fake watches and advertise them as real ones. If you don’t have experience with watch authentication, only use sellers with a high reputation!

Watch History

All high-end watches, including Cartier pieces, have a history of people owning them. For example, when you buy a second-hand Rolex Daytona from a reputable dealer, he will tell you the people who owned it.

If such a watch has a gap in its history, this could mean that during that period of time, the watch was switched to a replica, and the real watch with that serial number is sitting in someone’s collection.

Roman Numerals and Overall Look

Start checking if a Cartier watch is real by looking at the Roman numerals and overall appearance. Genuine Cartier watches have well-crafted Roman numerals, neatly arranged and evenly spaced. Make sure the font style is consistent and matches Cartier's unique design.

Real watches have a classy and polished look, showing the brand's dedication to quality. Fakes might have issues like uneven numerals, different fonts, or a sloppy appearance, signaling they're not genuine.

real vs fake Cartier watch face and Roman numerals

Stamping and Hallmarks

When checking if a Cartier watch is real, focus on the stamping and hallmarks. Genuine Cartier watches have clear, deep, and precise engravings, showing the brand's commitment to quality. Check the engravings of the Cartier logo and other markings on the watch case and bracelet.

Real ones have finely etched hallmarks with sharp edges, while fake watches may have blurred or shallow engravings. This attention to detail in stamping also applies to internal components like the movement.

Genuine Cartier watches keep clean, consistent engravings, while fake ones might have poorly done or inconsistent markings.

Scratch-proof Glass and Gemstones

Authentic Cartier watches have scratch-proof glass and premium gemstones. They use durable sapphire crystal for the glass, resisting scratches.

Fakes might use lower-quality glass prone to scratches. Check gemstones for quality too. Genuine Cartier watches have vibrant, well-cut stones, while fakes may have dull or poorly crafted gems, falling short of Cartier's expected quality.

Purchasing and Selling Tips

When buying or selling a Cartier watch, follow these important tips for a secure transaction. Choose authorized dealers to ensure authenticity and avoid fake watches.

If buying secondhand or online, research the seller, and ask for all relevant documents, like certificates and receipts. When you want to sell your luxury watch, give the buyer the original packaging, documents, and proof of purchase.

This builds trust in the authenticity of the watch, making the transaction transparent and reliable.

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, authenticating a Cartier watch involves a careful examination of specific features. Focus on the Roman numerals and overall aesthetics, ensuring precision and attention to detail.

Scrutinize stamping and hallmarks, looking for clear, deep engravings that match Cartier's quality standards.

By paying attention to these details, enthusiasts can confidently distinguish between real and fake Cartier watches, ensuring they invest in the craftsmanship and elegance associated with this esteemed brand.

If you are still not sure about your Cartier watch authenticity, our Cartier authenticity inspection service is available 24/7.


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