June 09, 2022

The world of wristwatches opened up in the early twentieth century and has delighted us with countless models produced by thousands of different watchmakers. Some of them have become so iconic that no watch lover can afford to ignore them.

So much that many other manufacturers have decided to "take inspiration" from these icons, in a more or less marked way, to produce their timepieces. To build over the years what has been called the Homage market: watches made by a distinct company that recall, sometimes very closely, other celebrated timepieces. The importance of such a market and the interest of many watch lovers for it are the main reasons why we wanted to offer you a selection of homage watches that take a prominent theme and interpret it in their own way. Are you ready to discover them with us?

homage gmt watch

What is a homage watch?

A homage - also known as a tribute watch - is technically a timepiece that resembles another, which has a pre-existing - and more famous - design. But how close do they look alike? 

The similarity can range from a superficial inspiration to being a near-faithful replica of the other - but one characteristic that all homages have is one, and a fundamental one: they are either marked with their manufacturer's logo or without a logo (displaying what is known as a "sterile dial"). Never, ever do homages carry a symbol that could be confused with the original watch's.

If it were, it would be what watch collectors call a "replica" (when they want to use a positive term) or a "fake" (when they don't want to sound so diplomatic). However, it has to be said that watchmaking purists consider homage talk quite divisive enough without going into the topic of replicas. 

For example, the most "homaged" watch in the world is possibly the Rolex Submariner. Its genuinely timeless design has been repeated by other automatic watches with a diver's style, and many other companies who have chosen to inspire themselves on its style elements like the design of its bezel, with the large hollowed numbers, the Mercedes hands, the style of the dial, the cyclops lens, the robust President bracelet, and so on. If we take an Invicta Pro Diver, we see that it takes up all of these features in an almost identical way.

However, when we examine a Rolex Submariner, we tend to forget that it as't always like this. Quite simply, the Submariner grew to become the most successful diver's watch on the market after it was presented. Watchmaking history tells us that it was launched in 1953 at the Basel Fair, simultaneously with the Blancpain Fifty Fathoms. And that historically, the two were immediately followed by many other watches produced by houses that were prestigious some time ago and perhaps no longer active today, or at least, not famous for those particular models.

Therefore, when we talk about "homages," we should never forget this fact: ideas have legs, and they walk around in the industry! Apart from this, a question arises spontaneously: from the perspective of the public why buy a homage instead of the original? Actually, there are three good reasons to do so.

 

1 - Accessibility

Quite often, the iconic watches that inspire homages are difficult to access. That is, they are challenging to get even if you can afford them. For example, it is well known that watches belonging to the Rolex Professional series in steel, although available at the price list, are not immediately available from the authorized dealers of the brand: to get one, you have to book it, and it is not said that you can receive yours even after many months or years of waiting. A homage allows you to get a watch that inspires you in a much shorter time.

2 - Cost

Needless to say, watches are beautiful objects, but they are often quite expensive. Nonetheless, a homage typically costs less than the original. The reasons why it is more affordable can vary, and often are a combination of these two factors: first, the brand effect. Second, the technical features, which can range from the type of movement installed to the finish of the timepiece. Just a few differences in the technical details adopted in production can mean a lot: a mineral crystal instead of a sapphire crystal, a different component for the bezel, such as metal instead of ceramic, a less prestigious and sophisticated caliber. They all allow to reduce the cost, and you could make a watch just as beautiful, although technically less endowed.

3 - Variations

A homage watch can be enjoyable precisely because it resembles another timepiece we like but differs from it in some important detail. For example, many enthusiasts love the style of Tudor watches but hate the Snowflake hands that they use! So what could be better than a watch that is similar to a Tudor but mounting different hands? The same can be said for other important details of a timepiece that risk making it difficult to wear: for example, the size of the case. Vintage watches were smaller, and maybe they don't look that good on someone with a big wrist: a bigger homage would solve this problem at the root. 

Concerning homages, for example, we can affirm that Rolex, in the case of the Submariner, produces both the original and the tribute: Tudor, a brand belonging to Rolex, for a long time used cases and elements coming from the House of the Crown, differing only in the calibers used, which were not made by Rolex, but were ebauches - movements from a specialized manufacturer such as ETA.

So, beyond the controversial - and sometimes a little disrespectful - judgments of some watch enthusiasts, we can safely assert that buying a watch such as a homage certainly makes a lot of sense.

 

What is the best homage watch?

As usual, there is no unique answer to this question: there is no "best" that can be applied to everyone's taste, precisely because everyone appreciates very different things. So, if you like Rolex watches - and their models which have earned some colorful nicknames (like Batman watches, Kermit watches, etc), you might like one feature and not another. This means that it would be nearly hopeless to make a list of every iconic watch with every homage made - that would fill a book, not an article. 

What we can do, however, is to compare a few of these homage watches with their better-known references, to provide some unusual alternatives to purchase - and help our readers discover some surprising and relatively unknown brands and models available in modern horology. We are focusing on watches currently in production along with their iconic original reference, and we start with three among the most famous and coveted timepieces worldwide: the Rolex Submariner, the Rolex Daytona, and the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak.

 

Rolex Submariner

The Submariner is probably the most famous watch in the world, and since its appearance in 1953, it has been continuously updated and modified. Still, the current version is still very similar to the original from almost 70 years ago, even though technically almost everything has changed.

The latest version of the Submariner, the ref. 116610, has a diameter of 40 mm, a ceramic bezel, and a case and bracelet made from the famous 904L steel typical of the Maison. It mounts the automatic manufacture caliber 3135, a robust and time-tested caliber since it dates back to 1988, but offers "Superlative Chronometer" performance, i.e., with a maximum error of -2/+2 seconds per day. The timepiece provides water resistance of 300 meters - a full 3 times higher than the first Submariner from 1953.

 

Invicta Mako Pro Diver 8926OB 

The similarity between these two watches is frankly quite striking, as is the price difference: with the price of one Submariner, you could buy about ninety Makos. But undoubtedly, apart from everything else, the Mako turns out to be surprisingly good Rolex Submariner homage.

It offers you an automatic NH35 movement made by Seiko, exhibited by an exposed case back, a 316L stainless steel case and bracelet, a good quality unidirectional rotating bezel, and a cyclops lens to enlarge the date. Sure, the finishes are decidedly different, as is the performance of the movement, with error ranges of -20/+40 seconds per day, and the water-resistance reaches "only" 200 meters: but for the price you're paying, this is an excellent buy.

 

Steinhart Ocean One Ceramic 

Steinhart is a German company that makes excellent homages to famous watches, and this Ocean One Ceramic only confirms that impression. The quality of this timepiece's 42mm case and bracelet is evident, as are the details of the surface polishing.

The watch houses a quality Swiss caliber such as the ETA 2824 or Sellita SW200 automatic movements. In addition, it offers a water resistance of 300 meters and high-grade finishing details such as double anti-reflective treatment on the crystal and Superluminova C1 to ensure good visibility even in low light conditions.

 

Davosa Ternos

In this case, we have a Swiss Made timepiece that has superior characteristics to the original. The Davosa Ternos is an authentic diver watch: it offers a solid 42mm case and bracelet, both made of 316L stainless steel, and a unidirectional ceramic bezel. In addition, the watch is equipped with a helium escape valve and offers water resistance up to 500 meters - almost twice that of the Submariner.

The Davosa Ternos is available in a wide range of references that vary in both the presence or absence of the date, the color of the dial and bezel, as well as the type of bracelet: this allows everyone to find the one that is precisely right for them.

batman homage watch

Rolex Cosmograph Daytona

This watch is part of Rolex's history and is one of its best-known and most coveted models - and possibly it represents the most desired racer watch in the world.

Launched in 1963, the Daytona has remained virtually unchanged throughout its history, becoming a style icon over time. In its 40mm case made of 904L steel, though other more precious variants in different metals are available, the modern reference 116500 mounts an automatic manufacture caliber 4130, with Superlative Chronometer certification. It has a ceramic bezel with a tachymeter scale and water resistance of 100 meters. 

 

Davosa Speedline Black 16347055 

If you want a Daytona and you want it now, this is the timepiece for you.

Beautiful and well-made, the Davosa Speedline pays homage to the lines of the Daytona in a slightly larger version - 42mm in diameter - that instead of the automatic caliber has chosen to mount a precise Swiss Made Ronda quartz movement (and you are aware how exact are quartz watches).

Otherwise, the bezel is made of steel, as in other Daytona models, and the water resistance is 100 meters. In addition, the watch, which has a steel case and bracelet with shiny and satin polishing like the original, has another quality not to be underestimated: it is highly affordable. 

racing homage watch

Echo Neutra Cortina 1956 White

Coming from an Italian-based micro-brand that is making a name internationally, this pleasing chronograph is dedicated to the first Olympic Winter Games held in Cortina d'Ampezzo in 1956. It takes up the typical style of the watches of that time, some ten years before the Daytona was launched, so more than a homage is a more elegant and affordable alternative.

It mounts a Sellita SW510M hand-wound, Swiss-Made movement mounted in a 40 mm steel case. It offers a black ceramic bezel with a telemetric scale, two wristbands of different kinds that you can swap (we really like the Milanese mesh bracelet), and provides a water resistance of 100 meters.

 

Hamilton Jazzmaster Lord Hamilton

Initially launched in 1967, this timepiece with a high-sounding name - and a large 46mm diameter - is an excellent alternative to the Rolex Daytona.

A sturdy stainless steel case, bold silver indexes, chronograph and tachymeter functions, and a solid-looking steel bracelet give the Lord Hamilton a level of sophistication befitting its name. The Lord Hamilton mounts a Valjoux 7750 automatic caliber with 42 hours of power reserve and has a water resistance of 100 meters.

 

Audemars Piguet Royal Oak

The Royal Oak was a genuinely revolutionary watch that changed the course of contemporary watchmaking. Launched in 1972 and designed by the ingenious Gerald Genta, this timepiece overturned all concepts of luxury applied until then, with its important size of 39 mm, its steel case, and integrated bracelet.

Since then, it has evolved with minor tweaks to the lines and movements but has retained the elements that made it the almost unreachable icon it is today, such as the unmistakable octagonal porthole-shaped bezel with exposed, inspired by old diver's helmets.

 

D1 Milano ATRJ02

This microbrand isn't very well known, but it deserves some limelight, It produces minimalist-designed watches that sit somewhere between homage and creative design interpretations of the great horology classics.

In particular, this model seems to combine typical Royal Oak elements with those of the Patek Philippe Nautilus. Be that as it may, this D1 Milano is elegant, with a linear and straightforward steel case with brushed and gunmetal PVD treatment topped by an octagonal bezel, but with no visible screws. The dial is clean, simple, and well readable. Its 41mm size matches most wrists, and it fits well around them thanks to its soft but sturdy natural rubber strap. It mounts a Seiko NH35 automatic movement and has a water resistance of 50 meters.

 

Davosa Titanium Black Automatic

This timepiece looks like a version on steroids of the Royal Oak Offshore, the sporty variant of the Royal Oak. The Davosa Titanium underlines its gritty, modern look with its black bezel with contrasting PVD treatment with exposed screws on the brushed titanium case.

It is an assertive watch, at 46mm in diameter, but remarkably balanced in its smart-casual character, with a carbon-effect composite strap that enhances its masculine lines. It mounts a reliable Swiss Made DAV3021 automatic caliber, visible through the exposed case back, ensuring approximately 40 hours of power reserve. This sexy timepiece has a water resistance of 100 meters. 

titanium automatic homage watch

Hublot Big Bang Classic Fusion 42mm Titanium Ref. 542.NX.7071.LR

Another watch that definitely shows its kinship with the Royal Oak is the Hublot Classic Fusion, the result of the creativity of Jean-Caude Biver, who revolutionized the Maison and invented its "Art of Fusion."  Hublot, you either love it or hate it - but for sure, it's a brand with a personality that doesn't leave you indifferent. Its timepieces are generally big, brash and bold, and stand out for their character.

On the other hand, this Classic Fusion model, with a beautiful and austere rhodium-plated dial, surprises with its discretion. It is a pleasant, sporty timepiece, driven by an in-house HUB1110 self-winding caliber, mounted in a lightweight titanium case.

 

In summary

The talk about homages and replicas is always considered borderline for many watch enthusiasts. While many of them love homage watches, others can't suffer them. And at the end of the day, that's okay - horology is a great passion, and there really is room for everyone.

The important thing is to remember that all iconic watches were just like any other watch, or nearly so, at the beginning of their "career." And this is demonstrated by the timepieces that we have illustrated in this article: when it was launched, the Rolex Submariner was considered the poor version of the Blancpain Fifty Fathoms. The Blancpain timepiece was initially built for military purposes and was therefore considered a better and more costly alternative.

And the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak itself was considered an absolute flop in the beginning since everyone was talking about it, but no one was buying it: it started selling only after a few years and precisely after Patek Philippe launched its luxury sports watch, the Nautilus. So, our suggestion to our readers is to enjoy your timepieces - even iconic ones - with a bit of lightness.

 

The Davosa-USA.com website is NOT affiliated in any way with Audemars Piguet,  Blancpain, Franck Muller USA, Inc. or Richemont Companies, Seiko, or any other brand which is not Davosa Swiss. Rolex is a registered trademark of Rolex USA. Davosa-USA website is not an authorized dealer, reseller, or distributor for Rolex and is in NO WAY affiliated with Rolex SA or Rolex USA or any other brand besides Davosa Swiss.
June 09, 2022 — Davosa Editor

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