By Charles riley
(CNN Money) – The Apple Watch will officially go on sale in more than a month, but China is already making its own model.
Imitation versions of the Apple watch can be found in the Huaqiangbei electronics market in the southern city of Shenzhen, and others have been sold nationwide through popular e-commerce websites.
The fakes mimic the design, style and even the digital crown of the new Apple Watch, which will cost between $ 349 and $ 10,000. Clone names like “Ai Watch” and “D-Watch” cost between 250 and 500 yuan (something like 40 to 80 dollars).
Read: 5 minutes with the gold Apple Watch
Most run an Android operating system that has been made to look like an Apple interface. They even have Apple icons on the main screen.
However, buyers are unlikely to mistake clones for real ones. The price alone is a clear indication, since the cheapest Apple watch will cost in the United States $ 349.
The immediate availability of counterfeits underscores the speed of the Chinese “shanzhai,” or counterfeiters, who are capable of designing and producing the counterfeits for the market. In this case, its products are on the street even before Apple’s.
“These guys are specialists,” said Laurent Le Pen, founder and CEO of Shenzhen-based smartwatch maker Omate. “The speed at which they can bring copies to market is incredible,” he added.
Le Pen, who has fought his own battle against the Shanghai people, said the Apple Watch is a prime target. The first knockoff watches will be rough knockoffs, he said, but as counterfeiters perfect their design, they’ll be closer and closer to the real thing.
“The hardware is not the big challenge; the difficult part is in the software and the applications aspect,” he said. “In the end, sometimes it is necessary to be an expert to know the difference between what is real and what is false.”
The online sale of counterfeits is particularly difficult to combat. Le Pen said he constantly finds sellers on Chinese e-commerce sites, including Alibaba’s Taobao, who use his company’s logo and design, claiming to be official distributors.
Even when Alibaba removes the ads, Le Pen said new sellers are quickly replacing them. Alibaba did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
In Apple’s case, there are likely a lot of buyers who insist on getting their new watch straight from the source, not from copycats.
Nick Hui, walking past an Apple store in Hong Kong on Tuesday, said he would consider buying the “Sport” version of the Apple Watch, but never a fake.
“I’ve seen a lot (of fakes),” Hui said. “I have seen the Android versions, but they are not the same.”
Shen Lu, Felicia Wong, and Vivian Kam contributed to this report.