Homage watches are increasingly popular, as original luxury watches are increasing priced out of the range of many watch collectors. But why are homage watches popular at the first place? And is it legal?
Homage watches are popular because it is a cheaper way to indirectly own an iconic timepiece. Homage watches are legal and come with a warranty and spare parts. Watchmakers also tend to be open to servicing homages.
This article will look into why homage watches are popular, and also the best homage brands your money can buy. We also discuss the best ways for you to purchase a homage watch.
What Is A Homage Watch?
Homage watches are watches that look similar to the original but stop short of being a complete replica. Homage watches usually have a similar appearance, function, and design but may not use the same material or movement. Homages use their own trademark.
A homage watch can be described as a watch that ‘looks alike’ to another watch, usually a luxury, iconic timepiece.
Although it attempts to resemble the original, it stops short of being an exact replica. They may have exact sizes, colors, layouts, or functions but use a different brand, for example.
The word “homage” implies “paying respect and adoration.” It can also mean “anything done to appreciate the worth of another.”
This demonstrates that homage watches are created by other watchmakers who want to pay homage to the original. These watchmakers pay homage by creating watches that are inspired by the original.
As a result, tribute watches are a way of flattering the original timepiece. No single original watch is copied, and no market share is taken from it.
READ MORE: Homage Watches Explained
Why Are Homage Watches Popular?
Homage watches are popular because it is a cheaper way to ‘indirectly’ own an iconic timepiece. Aside from that, homage watches are also popular because they are legal and come with a warranty and spare parts. Watchmakers also tend to be open to servicing homages.
READ MORE: Why Homages Are Better Than Replicas
Homages Are Cheaper. Homages are popular because they are much cheaper. For example, let’s compare an original Rolex GMT with an homage.
The original Rolex GMT Master ii with black and blue (Batman) bezel color is around $21,000. But if you are open to a homage, you can pick up a Pagani Design PD-I662M at around $110.
On the surface, the watch looks the same. The measurements, design, and function, all work similarly. The difference may be in quality in finishing, materials used, and of course, the branding.
This made homages popular, as you get to indirectly own an iconic timepiece at an unbelievable price.
Homages Are Legal. Unlike replicas, homages, in general, do not break intellectual property or trademark law, although some may not agree with this.
Homages generally design watches inspired by the original iconic timepieces but use their own brand. This means they do not use the brand of the original. For example, the Loreo Submariner looks and functions similarly to a Rolex Submariner but does not use Rolex’s logo.
As a result, homage separates itself from replicas, which copy the original completely, even using the logo and branding of the original watchmakers without permission. This is highly illegal, as it is a violation of trademarks.
However, not all agree with this. Some will see that copying everything from the original and slapping a different brand is still some form of intellectual property theft.
This is when things become gray and less certain. Debates have continued to this day about whether homages are ethical. You will have to do your research and eventually arrive at a position for yourself.
Homages Are Serviceable. Unlike highly illegal replica watches, homages are legally kosher. This enables companies to sell homage watches openly in the market and, at the same time, offer after-sales services such as warranty and spare parts.
Most homage watchmakers offer a watch warranty, meaning you can purchase with peace of mind. This is unlike replicas, which usually do not come with a warranty, or service centers if the watch malfunctions.
Homage watchmakers also make it easy for you to source spare parts if you need them. Some homage watchmakers, such as Alpha, sell spare parts for their watches in their online shop.
This means you or your watchmaker can purchase these parts and service your homage models, just like the original watch.
Watchmakers Will Work With Homages. Replica watches are illegal and also highly unethical. As a result, many watchmakers will reject servicing them out of principle.
Many will also reject servicing replicas; replica watches are of unknown quality, so they are not sure how to service them best.
Replica watches may use unknown movements, which may not come with servicing and repair manuals. This means watchmakers will not know what type of grease or oil is best for the movement, as there are no official recommendations.
On top of that, even if they decide to service or repair the watch, they may not know how to source spare parts for the watch.
With homages, watchmakers do not have these issues. Since homages are legal, they usually are open to servicing and repairing them.
Homage watchmakers may not use their own proprietary movement. Still, the movements are usually popular third-party movement makers such as Miyota, Seiko, Seagull, or ETA. This means watchmakers can still get a proper repair manual and source spare parts for your watch.
Best Homage Watch Brands
Some of the best homage watch brands include Steinhart, Stührling, Pagani Design, Alpha, Tisell, and Invicta. Some major brands such as Seiko, Citizen, and Bulova also have homage pieces.
There are many homage watchmakers, but several brands are popular and well appreciated by watch collectors.
These brands usually have a broad offering of homages, with good build quality and sturdy materials. These brands also offer after-sales services such as warranty, and spare parts, just like a full watch company.
Some brands make only homage watches, such as Tisell and Pagani Design. Some brands offer uniquely designed watches and many homage watches, such as Stührling and Invicta.
READ MORE: Best Homage Brands Reviewed
How To Buy Homage Watches
You may buy homage watches from Amazon, overseas eCommerce platforms, or directly from the watchmakers. There are various upsides and downsides to each option. The key is to buy from only recognized brands.
Amazon. You may source homage watches right at home on Amazon. Many homage brands offer their watches on Amazon, either directly or through a dealer. We highly recommend you this option.
The upside of buying from Amazon is you read customer reviews before purchasing, which may give you a good idea of what you are buying. You also get peace of mind since your purchase will be covered by Amazon if anything happens.
The downside, however, is you may miss out on some great homage brands. Steinhart, for example, is some of the best homage brands. Still, the brand is currently not offering its models on Amazon.
Overseas eCommerce Platforms. This is more for those willing to explore, as you may get to see a much more comprehensive range of homages. Popular overseas eCommerce platforms include Aliexpress, Wish, and Pinduoduo.
The upside with these platforms is you get to see a much more comprehensive selection of homages at a lower price. These platforms are also where you get to shop for Chinese homage watchmakers. Not all are good, but San Martin, Pagani Design, and Loreo can be excellent options for you here.
The downside, you may not be assured of your purchase. Many things can go wrong, from bad product delivery and lost packages (since they are traveling half a globe away) to downright scams. This is why it may be a good idea to make your order with a mindset that there may be hiccups.
If you want to avoid the headache, just shop on Amazon instead.
Directly From Watchmaker. You may also opt to purchase directly from the homage watchmakers’ website or stores. They may open up opportunities to purchase homages not on offer on Amazon, for example, Tisell watches.
The upside of this option is you may purchase directly, without a go-between. This means you might be able to save some money. Buying directly from a watchmaker may also make warranty registration and claims easier.
The downside is, again, assurance. Websites can appear and disappear overnight, and packages may be lost in transit since you may buy from a watchmaker in Europe or Asia. You may also get lemons of a watch, looking different from the pictures.
If you intend to take this route, purchase only from reputable homage brands, and check online reviews before making any purchases.