There are many homage watches on the market, and even a few homage brands like Alpha which makes homage watches to the much pricier Omega brand. There are some people who have serious ethical reservations about homage watches, considering them to be little more than intellectual property theft. There are others who see homage watches as a way to bring luxury and quality to the masses as the flattery of being copied only increases the brand equity of the original.
No matter where you fall in the homage watch ethical category, there is a very real advantage and disadvantage to homage watches. Of course I will discuss them here.
Here’s the advantage, homage watches are great for watch wearers to get the form, fit, and function of a much nicer watch without spending the cost of a much nicer watch. The advantage is price.
And here’s the disadvantage, homage watches do not appreciate in value, have little to no brand equity, and are as a rule cheaper to replace than repair. The disadvantage is lost value, as homage watches are essentially just “fashion watches” for all intents and purposes.
I fall into the philosophy that a homage watch is a good way for the casual watch person to expand their fashion options. Several years ago, whilst wearing traditional Bavarian lederhosen I wore a Fossil skeleton watch that my wife gave me as a gift. Fossil is by no means a top end brand, but the watch remains mechanically sound, and all of the exposed clockwork put the right touch on the outfit, clearly displaying a level of fashion sense that only a man who lets his wife dress him displays.
But knowing what homage watches are, and aren’t, here are some guidelines.
- Never trust the depth rating displayed on an homage diver. Sure I’d feel fine diving with an Invicta submariner homage, but really only because we use dive computers now and the watch is just there for backup.
- Everyone wants to get a Ferrari for the price of a Fiat, but homage watches and fashion watches are often Fiat upsold to the price of a Ferrari. Be very careful before you toss away money on a homage watch as you will not get that money back.
- Advertising that boasts about “quality” and “craftsmanship” is just advertising, your homage or fashion watch was assembled in Malaysia or China for pennies on the dollar.
To show the difference, we’ll compare the lowest cost “good brand” watches for your wrist with their homage/fashion watch alternative.
First up, Orient. If you want to get a nice dress watch for work or formal outings, get an Orient Bambino. And if you want a nice every day tough watch get an Orient Ray II. Those two watches will set you back about three hundred dollars combined, which is a really not that much to spend for a pair of name brand watches.
However, an Invicta Pro Diver automatic will set you back around 60 bucks for that every day tough watch, and a Gute mechanical “winner” model less than 35 (and Amazon has the “Vigaroso” variant of the same watch for less than 20 dollars). The “Winner” watch is a horrible watch from a mechanical standpoint, very little reserve power, but it looks the part for a conservative dress watch in a business/banking setting.
Clearly the homage watches cost a third of the Orient offerings, but it is highly likely that you’ll have an Orient watch working well into a third decade, so they do offer a better long term value in my opinion. But for someone who just needs a watch for wear a few times a year? An homage watch fits the bill nicely. If you have the coin though, the Orient option is what I would recommend.
So if you like the look of a watch, but don’t want to pay the name brand price an homage watch might just be the right thing for you in your circumstance. Then again it may not be as possibly instead of someone starting your career you are focusing more on quality and brand equity than price. I don’t know your situation but I do hope that this has helped you think through what you want in a timepiece on your wrist.