Fighting Replica Watches With Hidden Laser Images & Nanostructuring

Luxury replica watch makers are constantly fighting against fake and replica watches that damage the authentic watch market in a range of ways. While I have personally suggested that few fake watches are passable by experts as authentic items, there are a number of situations where being able to unequivocally verify a timepiece as being “real” is important. You can read more about the truth about replica watches here. Brands such as Rolex and others have engaged in special techniques to battle replicas for years. A common tactic–such as those used by currency printers–is to produce elements in the watch which are difficult or impossible to copy. A new technique to do so uses something called CLR-LIGA to battle against replica watches, and it will start being used by the Swiss watch maker Carl F. Bucherer soon on all of their in-house made mechanical watch movements.











Carl F. Bucherer is working with fellow Swiss company, Mimotec SA, that developed the CLR-LIGA process, which is actually a combination of two relatively recent technologies. “CLR” stands for “covert laser readable,” which is an interesting way of hiding images that only lasers can read. Basically, a laser is pointed at a particular spot where a CLR image has been produced. The covert hidden image is visible in the bounced light, and there are special scanners designed to read CLR images which are very small and are not visible to the naked eye.

Mimotec uses Laser LIGA technology to produce the small CLR images on the surfaces of watch movements. LIGA is a German acronym for a process that uses nano-structuring to shape the surface of materials on a very small level. LIGA is used to produce the CLR images, and the combination allows for an almost impossible to replicate image that, when combined with a laser scanning device, can display a unique image which lasts forever and helps identify authentic products from replicas. It is unclear whether or not Carl F. Bucherer will be using this technology to place individual serial numbers on its watch movements or more general “brand signatures.”

A problem I have with Swiss luxury watch brands focusing on these niche techniques to battle watch replicas is the message it can have to some consumers. If Carl F. Bucherer has to resort to hidden nano-structures in order to battle fakes it sounds like the fakes out there are pretty good. That couldn’t be father from the truth. It is true that I personally represent a more sophisticated class of watch lover, but I don’t think that most people putting a real or fake Carl F. Bucherer movement next to each other would be fooled by the replica model. In fact, even if fake watches Carl F. Bucherer replica watches exists, I don’t think anyone is clever enough to copy the look and feel of their in-house made movements.