It is true that many people don't quite know why fake watches are illegal, or that they are illegal. The problem with the FHH's campaign of "Fake Watches Are For Fake People" is that the message totally skews what is wrong with fake watches. Fake watches are a poor purchase decision because they are unlawful and because they are usually crap.
If you really want something bad but don’t have the money, go for pre-owned. For instance, you can find some pre-owned Rolex watches in specialized stores like the one in this link.
Pre-owned just means that someone has worn it before. It’s not that bad and definitely better than a knock-off, especially since they have been restored by experts to make them as good as new.
And if you can’t stand the idea of wearing what another man has worn, then I strongly recommend you find a no-name brand that makes quality watches. There are literally hundreds of Swiss watch manufacturers which make watches of all shapes and sizes.
Watchmakers surprisingly don't have copyright protection on the design of their watches. I am not going to get into a long intellectual property discussion, but the issue is that while designs are something you can protect, things that are "functional" need to be protected under patent law, not copyright. Patents filed long ago have since expired, or there is so much copying going on between brands, that nothing is "original" any longer. What brands can protect however is their name and logo. Those fall under trademark protection and cannot be copied legally. So what fakes are actually doing is illegally copying a name and logo, as well as other trademarked elements that are designed to tell people who made the watch.
This alone should be reason enough to not buy a counterfeit watch — it’s illegal, without exception. However, that clearly isn’t enough to deter a multi-million dollar industry of fake producers and the people who buy their watches.
Many people argue that if you’re only buying them and not selling them, you’re not really breaking the law. Unfortunately for you, the police, the watch community and the public will disagree with you. Not only does it impact the economy, but it impacts everyone who works in the industry. You can be charged criminally with selling a counterfeit watch and you can be charged for buying one in many regions around the world. True gentlemen don’t break the law or support those who do.
The number of elements on any given watch that can be copied legally is surprisingly numerous. This is why even legitimate brands end up "flattering" each other by borrowing design elements all the time.