Bogus bling on boastful wristsMr. A is in the fashion marketing business. He loves to show off his watch, boasting it’s a certain luxury brand. He doesn’t hesitate to reveal that it’s a knockoff and that he switches to a new model every six months or so.
He knows all the ins and outs of picking the best bogus watch. On a certain day of the week, he waits at a certain spot at 1 a.m. to meet a dealer. A group of men gather around to buy the watch of their choice. The seller then packs up and leaves after doing business for about an hour. Mr. A says he has tried a range of knockoffs, and this particular vendor carries the best. They’re not the common Chinese fakes, but are Korean-made. He says these fake watches are on a different level.
Many men have a special affection for counterfeit watches, and they have a different attitude about them than women do toward their fake bags. Women tend to want their knockoff purses to look authentic. But men aren’t reluctant about revealing that their watches aren’t the real thing, and even boast how they got them. They often elaborate on how they met a hard-to-find dealer or landed some rare item at an online pop-up shop in the early hours of the morning.
Nowadays, watches are the most coveted counterfeit luxury good. Crackdowns catch knockoff watch dealers, and the size of the business is far greater than that of fake handbags. A few days ago, the Maritime Police Agency found a stash of counterfeit watches, hidden in coils of wire that had officially passed customs, that would have been worth 400 billion won ($360 million) were they authentic. Last year, the National Tax Service made 400 busts of counterfeit clothing and accessories, worth some 350 billion won. But with only 48 fake watch busts, the total value, had they been authentic models, would have been well over 300 billion won.
Watches are the hottest items in the luxury market. Last year, the sales of luxury goods at department stores slowed, but sales of watches went up by 20 to 30 percent. As more men are interested in high-end watches, the counterfeit watch market is also enjoying brisk business.
Watches, along with automobiles, target men’s vanity and obsession with machines. As men become more conscious of their appearance, the first thing many want is a nice watch. But the latest knockoff watch craze is not entirely driven by vanity or fashion, but also about boastful, showy urbanites seeking adventure and escape.
* The author is an editorial writer of the JoongAng Ilbo.
By Yang Sunny