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Affordable Chinese Homage Watches - The 8 Best Brands

Posted on June 22 2021

The Best Chinese Homage Watches

What if you're unwilling or unable to buy a Swiss luxury watch?

It's a common scenario and it's why I set up this website.

For many of us, dropping 10k on a wristwatch isn't realistic. Even more so if you're a fan of watches and want more than one.

It's why I'm so passionate about affordable watch brands. They're more accessible and don't usually involve a sacrifice to buy.

But what if you have a specific watch in mind? An iconic watch that you'd love to own? or a style you'd like to mimic?

That is where a homage model can fill the gap.

What is a Homage Watch?


A homage watch is a model that copies the style of another watch but isn't a fake. A homage watch is usually a more affordable alternative to a luxury watch.

It's important to note that there is no deceit. A homage watch isn't pretending to be a Rolex. It just looks similar to a specific Rolex model.

Who Makes Homage Watches?


The simple answer is the Chinese.

While I've just clarified that homage watches aren't fakes, China does have the dubious honour of being the counterfeiting capital of the world. As the world's factory, it's no surprise that this is where the majority of fake watches are produced.

One of the main reasons is because that is where a lot of Western brands have their legitimate watches made. China is one of the watchmaking giants.

But innovation and unique design isn't their strong point. So Chinese watch companies seem very keen to copy more successful European watch brands.

One result of this is the proliferation of Chinese homage brands.

And I'm a fan.

Some Chinese homage brands produce great quality watches, at very affordable prices.

I want to show you my favourites.

The 8 Best Chinese Homage Watch Brands


China is the king when it comes to homage watches. But not all of them are great.

Some brands are better than others and quality can vary greatly. So I'd like to show you the brands that I like the most. They cover a range of styles and prices.

If there is a brand that piques your interest I'd suggest that you follow the links in this piece. I have more detailed articles on each brand.

Corgeut Black Bay Homage Watch

Corgeut is a master of the homage watch.

If you’re familiar with them it will be because you’ve already seen their Tudor Black Bay homages. They are high-quality automatics that have been well received by the watch nerd community.

This variation of the Black Bay comes with a reliable Japanese movement. It has great specs for the price - a sapphire crystal and 100M of water resistance come as standard. Unlike cheaper homage watches, the Corgeut is built to last.

The style is 100% inspired by the iconic Tudor model.

  • 41mm Case
  • No Crown Guards
  • Snowflake hands
  • Black Dial with Gold Accents

It’s a stunning design that has been a proven winner with watch fans since the original Tudor Heritage Black Bay release in 2012. But Tudor's success comes at a price - it’s not a cheap watch to buy new and used examples are snapped up quickly.

This homage is a great affordable alternative.

The Corgeut can be found with a choice of Seiko or Miyota mechanical movements. Both are good and often used in watches two or three times the price of the Corgeut.

Remember, there’s more than just the black and red variation on offer.

Corgeut Black Bay 2010C-SRB

  • 41mm Diameter
  • 12.5mm Thick
  • 22mm Lug Width
  • Stainless Steel
  • Japanese Automatic Movement
  • Sapphire Crystal
  • 100M Water Resistance


San Martin Rolex Homage Watch

This is a homage to the watch that Sean Connery wore in the early James Bond films. It's San Martin's take on a 1960s Rolex Submariner.

Stylistically, it ticks the boxes that you'd expect. It has the aged lume, Mercedes hands and the prominent crown that the early Rolex's were known for.

It's a cracking piece and in an era of over-sized watches, it's refreshing to have a modest 38mm case. That adds to the authenticity.

The specs are good and include a sapphire crystal and Seiko's reliable NH35 automatic movement.

The size and simple colouring mean that this is a versatile watch. And it can be worn like Sean Connery wore his, with a canvas NATO strap.

This is an inexpensive way to get a vintage Rolex look.

San Martin Water Ghost 6200

  • 38mm Diameter
  • 13mm Thick
  • 20mm Lug Width
  • Stainless Steel
  • Japanese Automatic movement
  • Sapphire Crystal
  • 200M Water Resistance


Pagani Design Seamaster Homage Watch

This is another James Bond watch. Omega’s original was designed for Bond in 2020s No Time To Die.

It was a Limited Edition and Pagani’s PD1667-G is a very affordable alternative.

On the whole, it looks the part. Not down to the smallest details, but near enough.

So where does it differ? The most noticeable difference is the case. Omega's Seamaster 007 is equipped with a titanium case. It's lighter than steel and has a darker colouring.

Pagani has stuck with stainless steel and hasn't included the Helium release valve. But in other areas, the watch is very close. The distinctive Omega bezel for example.

Most importantly, when you first see this watch you recognise it as a Seamaster homage. I'm most taken with this variation that uses a Milanese bracelet. But it is available with a few strap options.

Like other homage brands, Pagani has opted to use a Seiko movement. This ensures both reliability and value for money. It's nice to see a sapphire crystal included, but slightly disappointing to only have 100M of water resistance. The PD1667 looks like a diver, but it's not really built for the job.

If you can live with that - and there is no reason that you can't - this is an inexpensive way to get the look of an Omega limited edition.

Pagani Design Omega Seamaster 007 PD1667-G

  • 42mm Diameter
  • 14mm Thick
  • 20mm Lug Width
  • Stainless Steel
  • Japanese Automatic movement
  • Sapphire Crystal
  • 100M Water Resistance

 


Parnis Rolex Datejust Homage

This beauty is very similar to one of the Parnis models I own (used in the title photo). It's a straightforward homage to the Rolex Datejust.

The Datejust is a staple of the Rolex line, first introduced in 1945 and worn by Winston Churchill. It's a classic design that is smart casual and versatile.

Parnis has recreated the plain bezel version, maintaining the simplicity of the original. It has the date window at 3 o'clock - a new feature in the 1940s - and the cyclops lens.

I love this watch and the 39.5mm case feels just right. It has a Chinese automatic movement, meaning that this watch is very affordable.

If you're a Rolex fan shopping on a budget, I'd suggest that you start here.

Parnis Datejust

  • 39.5mm Diameter
  • 20mm Lug width
  • Stainless Steel
  • Automatic movement
  • Sapphire Crystal
  • 30M Water Resistance


Alpha Explorer Homage Watch

The Rolex Explorer 1 is the Swiss brand's pared-down sports watch. It was released following the first successful summit of Everest in 1953.

It's my favourite Rolex and top of my holy grail list.

But it's not a very affordable watch, so I've been keen to dig around looking for good quality alternatives. That's where I first stumbled across Alpha watches.

Alpha produce this homage and sell it for less than £100. That's got to be worth a closer look.

The first thing that strikes me about this watch is the size. It's 36mm wide. That's the size of the original. So not only does this watch mimic the styling, but it is also true to the ethos.

Interestingly, Rolex has started making the Explorer in a 36mm case again. It's what the watches fans want.

The Alpha is faithful to the original and has the same Mercedes hands and bold numerals. It has a Chinese Seagull automatic movement and a sapphire crystal. Not bad for a sub-£100 watch.

I've spent a lot of time researching Rolex Explorer homage watches and trust me, this is the best value for money.

Alpha Explorer 1

  • 36mm Diameter
  • 12.5mm Thick
  • 20mm Lug Width
  • Stainless Steel
  • Seagull Automatic movement
  • Sapphire Crystal
  • 50M Water Resistance


Steeldive Omega Ploprof Homage Watch

Young Chinese brand Steeldive makes homages to your favourite dive watches.

Their take on the Omega Ploprof is very close to the original. It has the locking bezel, 9 o'clock crown and the distinctive plongeur hands.

It's a high-quality watch. There is 1200M of water resistance, meaning that this can be taken deep. It also benefits from a mesh bracelet and comes equipped with a sapphire crystal.

Like most good automatics at this price point, it is powered by Seiko's NH35 movement.

Price is a factor when looking at the Steeldive. There is a lot of watch for the money here. Especially considering the water resistance and reliable movement.

If budget is a top concern when looking for an Omega Ploprof homage, start here.

Steeldive SD1969

  • 56mm Diameter (with crown)
  • 13.8mm Thick
  • 22mm Lug Width
  • Stainless Steel
  • Japanese Automatic Movement
  • Sapphire Crystal
  • 1200M Water Resistance

 


Benyar Milgauss Homage Watch

The Rolex Milgauss is the only Rolex to have a tinted crystal. It’s a colourful watch that resembles both the Explorer 1 and the Oyster Perpetual.

Again, I'm a big fan of the original. Rolex is quite a conservative brand, but the Milgauss is quirky. It has that green crystal, colourful markers and a distinctive lightning bolt hand.

Each of these is recreated in the Benyar.

Benyar’s homage is a touch bigger than the original - but that’s barely noticeable.

The Milgauss isn't one of Rolex's most popular designs. Its colour doesn't appeal to everyone. But if you do like it - Benyar is a good place to start.

Benyar Milgauss BY5177

  • 41mm Diameter
  • 14mm Thick
  • 21mm Lug Width
  • Stainless Steel
  • Automatic movement
  • Hardlex Crystal
  • 50M Water Resistance


Heimdallr Seiko 62MAS homage watch

The 62MAS was Seiko’s first dive watch. Released in 1965, the watch now has a cult status. Seiko has recreated the watch themselves, but it’s not a very affordable watch.

Heimdallr has produced its own version. It’s slightly larger than the original but otherwise is faithful to the skin diver styling of the Seiko.

It’s not an obvious watch to replicate and is more subtle than a Rolex or Omega homage. The styling is vintage, but the watch uses modern watchmaking knowledge. It’s powered by a reliable Japanese automatic movement and has a domed sapphire crystal.

It’s the final watch on my list and one of my favourites. Most people who’ll see you wearing this watch will never know that it is a homage to something else. I like that.

It’s a Chinese watch, inspired by a historical Japanese piece and definitely worth a closer look.

Heimdallr 62MAS

  • 41mm Diameter
  • 14mm Thick
  • 20mm Lug Width
  • Stainless Steel
  • Japanese Automatic movement
  • Domed Sapphire Crystal
  • 300M Water Resistance


Conclusion


The Chinese make good watches. There's no doubt about that.

Many of the Western brands that you're familiar with use Chinese production.

However, apart from a few big names like SeaGull and others, the Chinese watch industry doesn't have a great reputation for innovation. Instead, they take their design cues from the giants of Swiss and Japanese watchmaking.

The best of these watches are well-made homages to those classic models. Watches that give you the same styling at a fraction of the price.

And they're not fakes or replicas. They're branded with the names of the Chinese companies who make them.

I've highlighted a selection of my favourites. I've included models that mimic famous Rolex watches. I've also included watches like the Heimdallr that recreates a less well-known dive watch.

I've looked at each of these brands in more detail elsewhere. So follow some of those links and then let me know your thoughts in the comments.


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