Homage watches are often discussed in the watch community and can draw mixed reviews and responses. What are homage watches anyway? Are they as good as they sound?
The simplest way to describe a homage watch is a ‘lookalike’ watch. It aims to look like the original but does not cross the line into outright cloning. The word ‘homage’ means ‘paying respect and reverence’ and ‘something done in acknowledgment of the worth of another.’
In this article, we explore all the common questions about homage, and then decide once-and-for-all if you can actually wear it.
What Are Homage Watches?
Homage watches are basically watches with designs similar to another watch, usually an iconic, luxury model. This is done as a way to pay homage and show respect and reverence to the original.
Therefore, homage watches are a form of flattery to the original watch. It is not done to copy or steal the limelight and recognition from the original watch.
Homage watches also stop from being a replica or counterfeit watch. Homage watches do not steal the original’s trademark, or copy the design completely.
An example of a homage watch is the Invicta Pro Diver, that has similar design to the original Rolex Submariner. Both watches are pictures below.
In this article, let’s talk about homage watches – what, why, pros and cons, examples, and tips when shopping for one.
Why Are Homage Watches Controversial?
Homage watches are controversial as they could be viewed as a positive and negative development within the watch industry. Homage watches are an affordable, legal alternative to the original. However, it could also be seen as ‘lazy ripoffs’ or original, iconic designs.
People who see homages positively think that they help encourage people to start and get into watches since homage watches are affordable, compared to the luxury watch from the original maker.
They also see that by making iconic watch designs affordable, homage watches actually help the original lucury watchmakers to market their watches.
Those that dislike homages think it is nothing but a lazy design made by companies that just want to ‘stay safe’ on designs and ensure that their watches sell.
Some also think that homages encourage people to take ‘shortcuts’ in watch collecting and not save up for the original watch.
Both sides have valid arguments, and people showcase their support through the watch purchasing decisions they make. Which camp you stand with will be your own decision to make.
Are Homage Watches Fake Watches?
Homage watches are not fake, replicas, or imitation watches. They do not try to pass themselves as the original watch. Homage watches adopt the look but not the brand.
|Branding||Uses own brand||Uses the original brand illegally|
|Looks||Similar, with differences to avoid direct copying and infringing copyright||Copies original design as much as possible to fool people into thinking they are original watch|
|Pricing||Affordable, usually below $1,000||Super clones could cost more than $1,000|
Homage watches are designed to be close to the original watch. However, they do not pretend to be the original. Clones, or replica watches do that.
For example, The Invicta Pro Diver is a homage to the Rolex Submariner. Yet it does not have the Rolex logo on the watch but the Invicta logo.
This means this is an Invicta that looks like a Rolex, not a fake watch pretending to be a genuine Rolex.
Fake watches will simply copy the original watch down to the logo and branding. A fake Rolex will simply look real to an untrained eye because these fake watches never try to differentiate themselves.
Are Homage Watches Legal?
Homage watches are legal because they do not infringe any copyright, patent rights, or intellectual property from the original watch.
Homage watches used their own brand and labeled it appropriately on the watches. That means any watch buyer can tell that the watch is made by another company.
The watch design is also similar and close to the original watch. Still, it does not copy it entirely down to the last detail.
There are differences between the homage and the original watch when observed closely. Sometimes the dial size might be bigger or smaller by a few mm. Sometimes the hands are dauphine instead of cathedral, etc.
Educated eyes could quickly tell the difference and tell that homage watches do not break any copyright or intellectual property laws.
What Watch Companies Make Homage Watches?
Popular home watch companies include Steinhart, Pagani Design, Dan Henry, San Martin, Tisell and Alpha. Many established watchmakers also make homages from time to time. These bands include Seiko, Orient, Invicta, Bulova, and Stührling.
Many watch companies make homages. Even legendary brands like Seiko or Orient too. The difference here is whether the company only makes homages or they also release their proprietary designs.
For example, Bulova, Seiko, Orient, Invicta, Stührling, Steinhart, make their own watches, but also release homage watches. If you look at Orient for example, their Panda Neo 70s can be said to be a homage to the Rolex Daytona Paul Newman. You do not need to look far to see similarities in design cues.
Some companies primarily make homage watches, such as Pagani Design, Dan Henry, San Martin, Loreo, Alpha, and Tisell. These companies generally do not design their own watch models from scratch, but release homages only.
Please note that the list is non-exhaustive, and many other homage watchmakers are not listed here.
Are Homage Watches Affordable?
Homage watches are affordable and great value for money in many cases. This is because homage watches sells you a watch, without the branding. Homage watches are also made from common materials, keeping costs low.
Watches, Without The Hype
Homage watches are affordable since they do not try to sell intangible things like ‘history, tradition or brand.’ Instead, you are paying for the workmanship and material only.
In fact, luxury watch companies invest a lot of money to build up their brand image, sponsoring sport events and celebrities. As a result, they need to sell their watches at a high price, that you need to pay for.
Homages skip all that and makes you a great similar-looking watch instead, without the hype and fluff.
You Do Not Pay For Research, Development, and Design
Another thing that made homage watches affordable is that they often do not need to spend too much on research and development and design.
Most of the design work was done by the original watchmaker. Homage watchmakers have the design nailed down there, only needing to implement some changes to avoid patent infringement.
Homage watchmakers also do not need to spend money on research and development. They rarely develop their watches in-house. Most will source or contract important parts from multiple vendors and then assemble them.
For example, most homage watches will use movements from movement makers such as Seiko, Miyota, Sellita, or Seagull, instead of developing their own.
Homage Watches Use Common Materials And Movements
Homage watches also use common materials, such as stainless steel, instead of say, Oystersteel in Rolex watches. This keeps the cost low, which makes homages cheaper too.
READ MORE: Why Are Homage Watches Popular?
However, despite the common materials, homage watches perform well too. For example, most are capable to keep time well, and has a respectable water resistance too.
Homage watches have also become an affordable alternative since they use generic and popular movements. This means servicing them would be easier and cheaper.
Any watchmaker worth their salt would know these movements inside out since they have serviced so many, and parts are also easy and cheap to obtain.
For example, an original Rolex explorer has an MSRP of €6750 ($7,455) at the time of writing, while a homage Tisell 9015 is around $350 only. The secret? Instead of Rolex’s proprietary Caliber 3230 automatic movement, you get a Miyota/Citizen 90S5 instead.
Are Homage Watches Bad Quality?
Homage watches are not bad in quality, although it pays to do your homework when shopping for one. This is because homage watches can vary in pricing, workmanship, and performance.
To stay competitive, homage watchmakers at times engage in a price war. Homage watches would sometimes use less reliable movements or be different in type from the original. This keeps costs low.
For example, homage makers such as Reginald makes Rolex Datejust homages that look good on the outside and are often under $100. You can even find their homages in the $20 – $50 range.
This made them way more affordable than homages from Stührling, Invicta, Tisell, etc.
However, you will also notice that Reginald’s homages often run with a quartz movement and have low water resistance. These are the sacrifices made to keep the watch price low.
This might not be something many people can accept.
But you also have homages that are very well made. The Steinhart Ocean One is one of the best examples example of quality alternatives of the Rolex Submariner.
It runs on a Swiss Sellita automatic movement and has 300M (1000ft) water resistance depth. The watch is also made with 904L steel, much stronger than the typical 316L steel you see in many watches.
This watch also comes with ceramic bezel, sapphire crystal, cyclops lens, fluted bezel, and design features almost similar to the Submariner. It also comes with a stainless steel strap.
READ MORE: Ultimate Guide To Watch Crystals
In fact, Steinhart can be considered as a high-end watch within homages, as they make beautiful watches that comes with reasonable price.
Therefore homage watches can have both low and high quality. It pays to shop and compare specs properly before purchasing.
What Are The Benefits Of A Homage Watch?
You get to access an exceptionally designed watch at an affordable price, and you get to wear your watch without fear or worry. You can also turn your homage as a daily beater, sparing your original luxury timepiece for special occasions.
Similar Watches At Affordable Price
Not all of us are fortunate enough to be able to splash five figures on an iconic luxury watch. Homage watches allow us to get a taste of these watches at an affordable price.
For example, a Rolex Daytona’ Paul Newman’ (Ref.6241) is a very iconic racing watch. However, it is now over six figures on pricing.
But instead of splurging that money, why not consider great homages to that watch, such as the Orient Panda Neo or the Dan Henry 1962 Racing Chronograph.
ALSO READ: 15 Watches That Look Like Rolex
They look similar, run reliable movements inside, and in the case of the Orient Panda, backed by Orient’s excellent reputation. They are incredibly affordable, too, with both priced below $300.
There are also many Chinese homage brands that make watches similar to the Daytona. You can choose between automatic or quartz movement, or multiple clasp type. You can also choos between domed sapphire crystal, or just regular mineral crystal.
Wear Without Worry
Because homages are affordable timepieces, they can become a ‘luxury beater’ – a luxury-looking watch that can also function as a beater.
If you wear a homage watch, you do not need to worry about scratches, knocks, or dings since they are cheaper.
If they have deteriorated to the point of you not being happy with them, simply splash another $100- $300 and get yourself another homage from another maker.
Compare that to how your heart might ‘bleed’ when you notice a small scratch on the dial of your beloved Rolex GMT.
Replace Your Original For Daily Wear
No doubt, expensive luxury watches are fashionable style statement. It screams class, taste, and prestige. Wear one and you automatically belong to a special club.
However, even if you own Swiss luxury watches with iconic designs, you may still find homages useful in several ways.
Assuming you have the original watch, one of the biggest fears about wearing luxury watches is that we become magnets to criminals.
We might enjoy the luxury IWC or Breitling ticking on our wrists, but when we leave the house, suddenly we fear being robbed or attacked.
Everyone seems suspicious, and this can take a mental toll. So why not just leave the original watch at home and wear the homage instead?
They look the same, and you get to enjoy yourself a little more without worrying too much about losing your watch in a robbery, etc.
You Do Not Buy Replica Designs
If you cannot afford the original luxury timepieces, you may be tempted to buy replicas. However these are counterfeit watches, and you may have ethical standards that are beyond that.
With homages, you get to support genuine watchmaking companies that are also affordable watch brands. Your money will go towards a legitimate business entity, that operates their business ethically too. Behind homage watch brands, are properly registered business that pays tax.
If you buy replicas, you have no idea where your money goes. It may end up in shady organizations that use sweat shop labor. Worse still, you may be supporting a criminal enterprise.
What Are The Drawbacks Of A Homage Watch?
Wearing homages can have drawbacks. One, watch snobs or purists hate homages, as they see it as a ‘shortcut’ to expensive watches. Untrained eyes might see homages as fake watches. You may also no longer try to get the original watch, since the homage has satisfied the desire.
Snobs Hate It
Ahhh, here we come with watch snobs. They are a self-righteous, judgemental group of watch enthusiasts. They are also very set in their own ways and look down on people who make horological choices that do not follow theirs.
They mostly have issues with people who wear homage watches. They splash out five, maybe even six, figures to get the original watch.
And then you show up with a lookalike that is way, way more affordable than his.
Their usual line of attack would be to say that if you can’t afford the original, don’t try to wear a lookalike and ‘pretend’ that you actually have one. So if you wear a homage, be prepared to deal with people of this nature.
By the way, to counter their point, just go ahead and tell them that at least you got a watch that is an honest homage and not a super clone watch.
People Might Mistake It As Fake
To untrained eyes, they might think you are wearing a fake watch.
These people have some knowledge of watches but not deep enough to understand the difference between a homage and a clone.
They might know a Rolex Submariner or Omega Speedmaster and recognize the shape and color. They might have even seen and held one themselves.
So when they see your homage, they become a little shocked since the watch looks so similar, but the brand is different.
Since they do not know that these watches are called ‘homage watches,’ they pass them as fake watches instead.
So if you are wearing a homage, be ready to explain to these unfortunate and uninformed souls.
You May Stop Trying For The Original
Homage watches are affordable. Many are pretty well made, and it satisfies the ‘itch’ many of us badly need scratching – to own that grail watch we have always dreamed about.
It would never satisfy our desire completely, but perhaps just enough to make us not even want to get the original watch anymore.
To watch enthusiasts with a more logical approach to things, they might think it makes little sense to splash so much money on a single watch. So they spend their cash and build an entire collection of homages instead.
If you also agree with them, then you may no longer be interested in thinking about getting the original watch anymore.
What Are Some Popular Homage Watches?
Some homages are popular with watch enthusiasts for quality and outstanding performance. We list here several homages of iconic Swiss pieces you can check out:
Homages of Rolex Submariner
Rolex Submariner is perhaps the most desired luxury dive watches out there in the market, with many homages designed after it. These are the three popular and affordable homages well received by watch enthusiasts.
ALSO READ: 17 Watches That look Like Rolex Submariner
Invicta Automatic Pro
Homages of Rolex Datejust
The Rolex Datejust is probably the most popular Rolex, as they are the more affordable Rolexes on offer. Many famous people such as Winston Churchill also wear a Datejust, making them extremely popular.
There are also many variations and customisation available to Datejusts, making it very different from each other. These are the common affordable homages of the Datejust that many see as great options.
Homages of Patek Philippe Nautilus
Patek Philippe Nautilus is one of the most iconic sports watch, and is priced as the level where you can probably buy a few houses with it. It also has a very unique shape and bracelet design that many also have grown to love.
Luckily there are homages out there to cater to demands for affordable options.
D1 Milano D1-UTLJ09
We advice you take time to shop and look around for homages that suit what you are looking for before making any purchase.
Tips When Shopping For A Homage Watch
When shopping for a homage watch, always compare the specs with the original watch, and ensure the homages have good specifications. If you are a bargain hunter and are ok with risks, you may try to shop directly from China.
Study The Original
Assuming you are buying a homage watch online. Always ensure you read up the specs and details of the original watch.
For example, take note of things such as day and date window position, texture on the dial, the watch hand’s style, etc.
The idea here is to allow you to compare the homage with the original and ensure the watch looks as close as possible to the original.
By knowing the original watch in detail, you will also be able to ensure you do not end up picking up a homage that is too far different in quality compared to the original watch.
Compare The Homage Watches In Detail
When shopping for homage watches, chances are you will be looking at several options.
At this juncture, it might be a good idea to compare the homages in detail to make sure you are getting the best money.
You can start by comparing the external look of the watch to the original. The dial, the style of hands, markers, size of the bezel and case, and the bracelets/straps.
You can then compare the insides of the watch. Movement types and origin is often the central point where homages can differ.
For example, homages that run on a Swiss automatic movement would probably be more expensive than those on Chinese quartz.
On this, select the movement similar to how you will shop for your affordable, sub $1,000 watches.
Swiss and Japanese movements are better in quality. It might be helpful to also enquire with the watchmaker about the manufacturer of the movement.
Shop Reputable Brands
Homages are not fakes. In fact, they have their own reputation.
Some companies make excellent homages, pushing for maximum quality, and making their own designs.
For example, Seiko, Orient, Steinhart, Citizen and Bulova are reputable watchmakers, but they also release homage watches.
These are the best companies to shop your homages from.
Some companies focus on homages, and they tend not to have much history and track record.
With these companies, they know that they are in a disadvantaged position, so they will spec up their watches and then keep prices low.
Feel free to try these companies if you are ok with a bit of risk.
Shop From Importer
Companies with no physical US presence make some of the best homages.
These companies rely on importers and dealers to help market their watches in the US or countries they have no presence in.
These importers usually sell the watches and offer warranty and services for them as well.
So if you do not want the fuss and trouble of managing your watch after purchase, you can do so by purchasing straight from these importers.
You can find these importers on their website. They might also be selling directly on Amazon.
Shop Direct From China
Many of the great homage watchmakers are from China. For example, Loreo, Pagani Design, and San Martin.
They also do not have a physical presence in the US, relying on either grey importers or individuals importing their watches to sell in places like Amazon.
These importers mark up the prices of the watches, although they do provide better after-sales service since they sell the watch to you.
If you are keen to save more money, you can take the plunge and go watch hunting directly online in China.
Online platforms such as Aliexpress are in English, the prices are quoted in US Dollars, and they definitely ship worldwide. This makes it an excellent place for you to start.