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.
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 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 Stührling 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.