FakeWatchBusta calls himself “The Horological Batman," a vigilante out there policing these internet streets keeping everyone safe from the scourge that is fake high-end timepieces (“Horology” = the study of watches and keeping time; it comes from the same Greek word from which we get “hour.”) Armed with only an eye for detail and a smartphone, FWB puts anyone flossing a replica watch on blast. He’s had his accounts canceled, legal threats, and a lot of pissed off ballers, but he will not be stopped!
Although his identity is a mystery, his email address is not. We caught up over the weekend.
[Note: I'd like to give a shout-out to @mister_aok on Twitter for hipping me to this account.]
Noisey: Who are you and where are you from?
FakeWatchBusta: I’m a dude in my 30’s from Europe. I don’t want to [say much more] since the threat of lawsuits are starting to pile up from the jewelers selling these fake watches. I get a cease and desist letter almost once a week. Instagram shut down my first account after I busted Carmelo Anthony with a fake Audemars Piguet and a fake Panerai. He is clean now but there was a lot of drama with his sponsors after I exposed his replicas.
Was the C&D from the jeweler or from Melo?
The C&D’s are from several jewelers, almost every time I bust one of these rappers they are linked to they freak out pretty bad. Threatening to sue if I don’t remove the pictures. They also want me to go out and say that the watches are really real. Never done that.
How do you know so much about watches?
I was a big record collector, mostly punk/hardcore and some indie related stuff, but almost every genre have always interested me. I freaked out when a friend got his record collection destroyed in a basement flood. Since records are so fragile I sold off all the valuable pressings and just kept the music.
I started to get into watches since they hold value really well, but I’m also very fascinated with the mechanical aspect of them. Hundreds of parts working together making a fine tuned machine that can be spot on day after day. I’m not that into them for the luxury aspect of it, I’m more of a watch geek and study the different kinds of movements and how they work. I also appreciate the good quality and workmanship involved. I know much about them from being an avid forum reader and a detail freak; even some of the real watches have details that are off sometimes and that irritated me. I started to study some of the quality control issues in the Swiss watch industry and this led me to know the real watches very well. When you then look at a replica it’s pretty easy to map out those small things that give you an off feeling.
So you’re entirely self-taught in terms of watches? No formal training, just intrinsic appreciation?
I’m not a watchmaker, I’m just a detail freak and It’s part of my obsession with watches, it’s a million details on a space of 4cm.
Why did you decide to start calling out people with fake watches?
I started calling out some regular accounts on Instagram for fun, you know, just a dude in his 20’s that is fronting like he bought a Rolex Submariner to his followers and tagging #Rolex #Millionaire #Money and that sort of thing. I thought the need to front like that was pretty pathetic, and when it’s a fake it’s both tragic and funny. I got like 1000 followers the first week and got an interview with Hodinkee, one of the best watch blogs in the world. There was a lot of drama in the comments from the start, especially when I tagged friends and people that had commented that the watch was nice in the original post. From there it started to go pretty fast and I was up to like 7000 followers when I busted Carmelo Anthony and was taken down. I also busted Ice-T and his son.
On the new account I have busted a lot of people, everyone from Rick Ross to Soulja Boy and Sean Kingston. I just busted Jadakiss and he responded that he didn’t buy no watch from that guy. But I found a video that I posted proving him to deal with him and he even had the fake watch on his wrist. It’s all on the account.
The lengths some of these people go to are pretty crazy, there was this classic one were a dude found a picture of someone that looked like a sales associate inside an Audemars Piguet Boutique and thanked him for the good service and stuff. The person in the picture was Ben Clymer who runs Hodinkee and it was just something he had found searching Google images. There are also some funny video busts and sometimes they will show the price and picture of a real one found online and show the fake like they bought that watch.
So this is as much about shady jewelers passing off replicas as it is about rappers trying to floss extra hard.
Yeah, I think the jewelers are taking advantage. But if [the rappers] wanted the real deal from, say, Ben Baller it would be twice the price. I don’t think they care about the watch part – it’s the diamonds and shit that’s important to them. I think it’s more jewelery than watches for most of them.
I mean Soulja Boy’s watch is a bad Audemars Piguet quartz fake and the battery has run out so it shows the same time in all his pictures. It’s 10:25 all day, every day. It’s pretty funny.
Are there more fake watches than there used to be?
Replica watches are actually on the decline. Searches for them on the web have gone down in the last few years and I think regular people are getting more into buying something real. I have so much respect for those that just go and buy a Seiko, Casio, Tissot or whatever because they just want a watch for their budget. You can even get mechanical watches down in like $100-$200 and those are nice watches.
One of the reasons for doing this, it’s mostly for the laughs you know, but I don’t like the replica industry at all. No one loses any sleep over some Swiss million dollar companies getting hurt, but all the research I’ve done comes down to terrible conditions, use of hazardous materials and child labor. I mean there is bad shit like this in legitimate production also, but remember that the replica industry including fake bags, watches, sunglasses and shit is a major global economical player without any form of regulation at all. At the prices they sell this for it’s not possible to [make these watches] in an ethical way and the working conditions must be some of the worst there is. Just buy a goddamn Seiko.
But the laws are getting stricter, especially at airports. In Italy for example you can go to jail if you are stopped with fake junk in your baggage.
Who are the rappers with the best real watch collections?
Meek Mill is genuine, 50 Cent is genuine, Eminem got one Rolex, and it’s real. Jay-Z is the one with the nicest watches. He is not into all the bling, he got some real quality high-end watches. He also has his own models from both Audemars Piguet and Hublot.
The most awesome thing would be if a rapper with genuine watches would use me as a diss towards one of these fakers. Macklemore just started following the account, I hope he likes it.
Macklemore gonna rap about buying a Timex joint at a thrift store for $2 then come out with a rare Macklemore x Timex x Supreme version that sells for $1000.
Haha, if Macklemore releases the $1000 Timex I would be into it! At least it would be a genuine watch.
What kind of watch do you have?
I have a small watch collection that is constantly changing. Since they hold value really well it’s possible to try out a lot of different things without losing any money. Recently I have owned an IWC Portuguese 7 days, a Jaeger-LeCoultre Master 8 days, a Panerai 312 and some other stuff. At this point I have a Rolex Submariner and a couple of Omega watches. I’m looking for my next buy at this point.
What kind of watch do you wish you had?
My dream watch is a Patek Philippe Nautilus 5711 or 5712. Just a clean classic watch designed by one of the greatest designers in the watch business. I’m also a sucker for the A Lange & Söhne Zeitwerk. You can never go wrong with Rolex. Never. A lot of people think Rolex is the ultimate bling brand, but fact is that they have pushed the mechanical wrist watch forward more than any brand when it comes to diving and temperature/magnetic issues. They created the first watch with a date and they have created the watch that [has survived the deepest dive]. James Cameron put that watch outside his submarine. [Rolex] has a very interesting history when it comes to their sport watches.
Would you ever rock a pocket watch?
I have a pocket watch, I wear it once a year on a special occasion with some weird clothes.
Skinny Friedman doesn't own a watch, just a Beats Pill that he duct tapes to his wrist. He's on Twitter - @skinny412
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