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Homage watches, worthy or just lazy?: The Collector’s View

by Chester Lau on December 28, 2014
Reviews

Tudor makes great videos, preaches a style, a lifestyle, something ethereal, a foregone past that is still desired. The heritage chronograph is greatly influenced by motor sports. Through collaborations with Bruce Meyer for instance, Tudor has cleverly pumped up the legitimacy of its heritage line with the association of vintage cars.

A watch tells a story. It gives one a fleeting escape from reality, an imagination of the world embodied in the timepiece. It inspires the wearer to fulfill his dreams. And in this case, the wearer of this chronograph blue, rolls up in a Shelby, swims out to sea, to a picturesque setting and with a beau by his side.

To be brutally honest, it was not love at first sight for me. The Tudor Chronograph has a clumsy case construction, foggy glass due to a lack of AR and its colours were not instantly appealing. I was very much reminded of lego because of the colours, but that might be a defect of my childhood. Nonetheless, it performed well and did as required, but it was not impressive. Could it be due to the fact that it is a homage? In my mind I am reminded that this is a modern watch that’s made to copy the past, which means, there is an original out there that probably looks better and means a lot more than this copy.

tudor-heritage-chrono

The Tudor Heritage Chrono Blue, with its trade mark tri-colour, blue, white and orange. It is set in a 42 mm steel case with polished and satin finish.

Side profile of the Chronograph, a bit too chunky for my liking.

Side profile of the Chronograph, features a steel screw-down winding crown with the TUDOR logo and steel screw-down pushers.

tudor-heritage-chrono-dial

Bidirectional rotatable 12-hour graduated steel bezel for second time-zone display, waterproof to 150 m.

Then again, the new Tudor series should be applauded now that Tudor has come out of the shadows as a poor man’s Rolex and has begun to take cues from its rich history. If any, its emphasis on watches as a part of heritage is a run in the right direction. The Chronograph uses a modified 2892 movement, with approximately 42 hours power reserve. Notably different from other chronographs, the movement’s minute counter does not jump at every minute, but moves continuously instead. It comes in a steel bracelet with folding clasp and safety catch and additional fabric strap with buckle.

It was inspired by the the reference 7169, or “Monte-Carlo” released in 1973/74.  The ref 7169 uses a two register dial and features a magnifying window for the date. It was the last Tudor chronograph that uses the manually wound Vajoux 234 movement before the switch to the 72 and the 7750. And that makes it all the more collectible. One notable difference between the 7169 and the modern Chronograph is the switching of the minute counter to 9 o’clock instead of at 3 o’clock.

The Heritage Chronograph retails at approximately S$5880, while the ref 7169 has traded between USD$10000 to $40000 at auctions.

So what do you think about homages? Can they ever be superior to the original? Or a slipshod low cost solution to creating ‘new’ products? A chain of homages and reproductions with some modifications and ‘face-lifts’ would set the watch company in steady stream of designs and ‘new’ products for a good many years. Does this promote complacency and a reduced interest in developing new products? Here’s a collation of several other homage models, just how well do you think they fare? Worthy or lazy?

The Tudor Ranger

Click here to read more about it.

tudor-ranger-dial

The Tudor Ranger, with the Bund Strap option.

The Tudor Ranger, with the Bund Strap option.

Then again, could the issuing of homage models signal the brand’s recognition of the prowess of its past models and its ability to reproduce its legacy? It also gives collectors a chance to own a new piece of old horology.

The Jaeger Lecoultre Tribute to 1948 Reverso.

Click here to read more about it.

jlc1948-tabletop

The Reverso case, first shown by JLC in 1931 is a model of beauty. It looks deceptively simple, yet the case is extremely complex, and completely made in house in Le Sentier.

The Reverso case, first shown by JLC in 1931 is a model of beauty. It looks deceptively simple, yet the case is extremely complex, and completely made in house in Le Sentier.

The Omega Seamaster 300 Master Co-axial

Click here to read more about it.

The new Omega Seamaster 300

The new Omega Seamaster 300, cosmetically enhanced with patina lume. Looks great and rustic, but can it outdo its predecessor?

The Omega Seamaster 300, with the Liquidmetal Bezel.

The Omega Seamaster 300, with the Liquidmetal Bezel. Material changes are a sign of modern improvements through new technologies. Anti-reflective coating to sapphire crystal, tougher case construction, use of new materials, like ceramic or Liquidmetal in this instance.

The Jaeger Lecoultre Memovox Tribute to Deepsea Alarm

Click here to read more about it.

JLC Tribute to Deep Sea Alarm.

JLC Tribute to Deep Sea Alarm.

On the wrist, the watch is very comfortable. Very nice indeed.

Seen here on the wrist, the Deepsea Memovox not only looks like a vintage but wears like one too.

To be fair, coming up with homage and tribute lines could also be a respectable effort by brands to honour their past designs and to show that they still maintain the technical prowess to take on past icons and to improve them. Let us use the Jaeger Lecoultre 1948 and Deepsea Memovox for reference. The 1948 Reverso has a beautiful dial and brilliantly finished case construction while the dial detail on the Deepsea Memovox reveals the attention the manufacture gives to uphold the prestige of the line.

In fact, Jaeger Lecoultre does not only focus on homage models; it releases homage models in limited productions and also continues to grow new product lines.

However, there are some brands who focus more on marketing to milk out the essence of its past and simply replicate their icons using simpler stock movements and face lifts. Worse still, their homage models become their main product line. This is the type of brands that I would consider lazy and I do not have high hopes for their future plans. After all, the homage strategy will run out in due time.

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