Homage vs Frankenwatch vs Replica : what's the difference?

Legal vs semi-legal vs illegal

As a watch lover I'm almost constantly scavenging the internet and thrift shops for interesting timepieces and it just blows my mind when I find that people are willing spend hundreds or even thousands of dollars on fake watches. I just don't get it because by definition, a fake watch is worthless because it's an illegal product.

Sorry I digress. Rant over. The point is, I think it's important to understand the huge difference between a homage watch, a replica and a Frankenwatch.

"Replica" = fake

There's no such thing as a legal replica or a "high-end" replica. Replica is just a nice word for fake. Weirdly, there are a lot of legal grey areas in terms of fake watches ownership but the law is a lot clearer on transactions because purchasing fake watches is illegal and selling one is even worse. Replica watches are considered counterfeit goods so the message is clear: don't buy one.

Legal? No.

Frankenwatch / Frankenstein Watches

A Frankenwatch is the term most commonly used to refer to watches that have been restored or refurbished with unoriginal parts and/or aftermarket components. Performance and longevity aren't guaranteed, and you obviously invalidate the warranty.

Frankenwatches are legal but even though there's nothing inherently wrong with them, you won't be able to service the watch, the modifications will tarnish the value and the whole idea is frowned upon in the industry.

You can usually recognize a Frankenwatch by the repainted, brightly-coloured dial, which almost always looks 'unnaturally' modern, and the equally brightly-coloured hands.

Legal? Yes, as long as they're acquired and sold between private parties with one-off sales and as long as they aren't sold as 100 % original (which they're obviously not).

Homage watches

Homage watches are 100 % legal, easy as pie. Some people like them, some don't but that's a matter of personal taste.

A homage watch is simply a legal replica of an authentic watch. Replicas are designed to resemble the specific watch they tribute as closely as possible without using any of the brand's trademarked names, logos or parts. New York-based manufacturer StĂĽhrling is a good example of this. Some of their watches are designed as a homage to popular Rolex models like the Daytona or the Submariner. Then again there are homage versions for some TAGs, some Omegas and even Seikos and G-Shocks.

Legal? Yes.

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Comments (27)

  • I don't wear a watch anymore.. really ever. I used to though, when I was in highschool a fake Rolex was the rage LOL, late 80's early 90's we all bought them at flea markets and if you so happened to vacation in Mexico you would return with a collection. They typically could be bought for $10-$20 They were I guess rip-off and branded as such, but come on... the quality was so off you could never try to pass them off as real. We all even called them Mexican Rolex or Molex LOL !! People will buy what they buy. If you want an investment go with the real deal, if you want something to wear daily that you don't really want to care if it gets scratched or damaged while wrenching your ride then what is the big deal?🤔

      7 months ago
    • I bought a fake Rolex in Hong Kong in the 80's. I knew it was a fake ($15 if I remember correctly). I thought it was funny. I wore it sometimes just to twist people up.

        7 months ago
  • I own a few homage watches, the best are my CWD Trident and my Steinhart Ocean One. I have no intention of buying a Rolex, although I might buy an Omega.

      7 months ago
  • I am sorry, but Stuhrling is no match to the Chinese. They are probably made in China and sold with a hefty profit.

    Their Rolex Daytona replica has no sapphire crystal, ceramic bezel, milled clasp, yet it costs almost 200 dollars.

    Then take a look at the Pagani design homage, you get all those extras and you pay less than half the price..

    When you need a nice Rolex homage, take a look at San Martin.

    They are considered to be one of the best manufacturers, using quality materials under a decent quality control.

    Their V3 submariner homage is outstanding, even more if you consider the price.

    I see the Stuhrling equivalent is offering “Krysterna glass”. For 380€. What?

    Fancy a nice Omega Speedmaster Moonwatch homage?

    Then look at Phylida.

    A fully mechanical chronograph, with seagull movement, visible under a see-trough caseback, with sapphire glass, for about 150€..

    Now that’s good value to me, if you are looking for a nice homage.

      7 months ago
    • yes but I never mentioned anything about quality. I simply said that Stuhrling is a perfect example to explain what a homage watch is. That is all

        7 months ago
  • Homage watches can be pretty cool.

    The Chinese are experts at this.

    Take the Seiko 6105 “captain Willard”:

    Chinese company Steeldive currently offers a very nice homage of this classic dive watch.

    -Stainless steel case,

    -screw down crown and back, -sapphire crystal,

    -120 click unidirectional bezel with ceramic fully lumed insert,

    -Seiko (!) NH35 automatic movement, hacking and hand winding,

    -signed crown and back.

    All this for less than 100€...

    I have one at home and it’s great, it has that retro vibe.

      7 months ago
    • Before Steeldive it was Heimdallr/Sharkey. I have one of those and the quality is superb.

        7 months ago
  • Burn the fakes, meh to the Franks, and homages? If the original is still in production, it's essentially a fake with a different name. And it ought to be made by the brand itself - Tissot for instances does homages to some of their own 1920s watches. I wouldn't buy a Tissot homage made by Movado.

      7 months ago