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Ramblings about replica watches & future repercussions

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    Ramblings about replica watches & future repercussions

    So, as someone who has collected watches since the early 90s, worked on watches since the mid 90s, and did it professionally for 13 years; I look at these a little differently than most people.
    I'm (like all of us) attracted to a watch because of it's general form, dial layout, hand shape, features, etc., but I also spend a lot of time looking at all of the parts through a loupe. The last fake I bought until recently was at least 10 years ago. I was pretty impressed with the quality of these back then, but there was still a lot of novelty factor in it; Getting something I could put gen parts on and fool myself enough to enjoy wearing it was fun. Prior to discovering this underground high-end fake thing, almost every fake I saw was total garbage. These had reached a point where none of them held a candle to the genuines, but were close enough to enjoy as long as I didn't look at them through my loupe.

    Fast forward to now. I just bought an Omega SPECTRE with the new "clone" movement, and a Korean Chanel J12 for my girlfriend. I have a few others still coming.

    I am completely blown away at the leaps ahead in general and finish quality on everything. Including the movement in the Omega.
    I haven't torn it down yet like I intended, because it came timing at -3 sec per day. It's 12 seconds slow at 7 days on the wrist. This is chronometer grade accuracy. The finish quality on all the visible parts is hovers between ETA Elabore & Top grade, and I don't expect to find any different when I pull it apart. The timing says a lot about the finish already. The external finish is also impressive, the case, crown and tube are convincingly genuine. The AR is extremely good, and really helps to sell it.The dial print suffers a bit, and the bracelet isn't radiused in spots that make it feel a bit wrong to the hand when manipulated off the wrist, but it is visually extremely close to the genuine even under a loupe. All of the engraving and etching is crisp and correct looking, the polished flats are flat, and the brushing is precise and perfect. The bezel clicks didn't feel great either, but I improved it quite a bit by cleaning up the detent & polishing the teeth. On the wrist it feels and appears genuine to the naked eye, and I'm pretty picky.

    I did pull the Chanel apart, and aside from the timing bezel click mechanism being kind of cheap, and the ETA quartz movement not being quite as nice as I would expect; if you walked in and dropped one on my bench I would have sized it or swapped a battery without it crossing my mind that it might be a fake. (I'm not real familiar with Chanel, though.) The dial, case, clasp and bracelet are fantastic.

    What I'm getting at is this: The Chinese are getting very close to being able to produce something that is near indistinguishable to the touch and totally indistinguishable with the unaided eye. I believe this market has driven some of the attention to detail that is going into these now and will filter into the production of legitimate products.
    ETA controlling parts & movements, Omega making it harder, Rolex doing what they have always done- all are pushing a need for aftermarket parts that are acceptable quality for independent watchmakers & consumers. The Chinese are very soon going to be able to fill this need with parts that are near perfect copies perfectly worthy of replacing their Swiss equivalent. When they hit that point, we're going to see an explosion of micro-brands that use Chinese everything, that are finish & function equivalents of watches of Swiss manufacture at a fraction of the price.

    I'm not sure exactly where that will leave the Swiss watch industry, but it's going to shake things up in a big way. The Chinese will have a very difficult time with the cachet thing, but I have a feeling that will be helped along by a small manufacturer with a good reputation already, and something to prove. There are several that were hurt by ETAs crackdown, all it will take is one to dare to use a Chinese produced chronometer of original design and have success to start a snowball. High end watches are micromechanical jewelry, and it will be very difficult for the Chinese to develop any kind of brand themselves that will be taken seriously by the Rolex crowd, because as we all know, many non-watch people own these as a visible status symbol. But the quality will be there.

    I'm excited to see what these fakes look like in 5 more years. (If we can still buy them, but that's another discussion.)

    #2
    Very well put and an interesting perspective. Thank you.

    Comment


      #3
      Thanks for your insight from your experience and your background with working on watches professionally. I have always wondered about the tear down comparisons. I know that there is a much greater push for accuracy on an open caseback. Some of the closed ones attend to detail and share those photos willingly but I don't know any watch repairmen that I could chat with about their experience.

      Have you ever been duped by a model? Apart from your lack of experience in Channel, that is.

      Sent from my Pixel XL using Tapatalk

      Comment


        #4
        Have you had a chance to look at their sophisticated tourbillons? Just a taste of it here: Dual Axis Seagull turbillon Of course they are pricey but quality and technological leap is impeccable! Just look at that:

        Comment


          #5
          amplitude I agree. I’ve been purchasing reps on a regular basis for 15 years. Bought my first rep 25 years ago. The quality now is unbelievable compare to where it started. It has improved leaps and bounds in just the last 5 years and the rate at which the quality is improving is amazing. That’s one reason I roll my eyes at some of these QC threads where complaints are made about an hour marker that appears .00001 mm off based upon a highly magnified QC photo.
          Tucker seems to be fallen into a pit of ignorance - Cavemax

          But in this underworld of rep watches,it is clear that the normal thing is to play with the luck of the Seller's roulette - j.m.mozos

          Comment


            #6
            This is a bit off-topic, but in the same vein: Chinese made suits of Italian or English cloth are making the same impact on the market.

            A suit which would have cost $3-5k five or so years ago can be had for $1-2k today. Same Holland & Sherry or Loro Piana cloth in the same bespoke delivery, at half the cost.

            More money for watches is the biggest net positive I can see haha.


            Sent from my iPhone using RWI

            Comment


              #7
              Originally posted by nalomb View Post

              A suit which would have cost $3-5k five or so years ago can be had for $1-2k today. Same Holland & Sherry or Loro Piana cloth in the same bespoke delivery, at half the cost.
              I’d say more 1k or less than 2k ????
              I'm in love with the shape of Roo // Sucker for 3-6-9 dials

              Comment


                #8
                Originally posted by SuperLory View Post

                I’d say more 1k or less than 2k ????
                $895-1,495 is probably a more accurate range ... unless you want to talk about REAL horn buttons haha


                Sent from the RWI mobile app

                Comment


                  #9
                  Where is everybody getting bespoke ITA or GBR cloth suits for $895-1,495?

                  Comment


                    #10
                    Originally posted by rolexwatchfan View Post
                    Have you had a chance to look at their sophisticated tourbillons? Just a taste of it here: Dual Axis Seagull turbillon Of course they are pricey but quality and technological leap is impeccable! Just look at that:

                    I haven't. I have only seen one tourbillion ever, a Breuget, and I told the customer I wasn't even going to open the case. I keep meaning to buy one, but always have something else to buy instead.

                    Comment


                      #11
                      Originally posted by amplitude View Post
                      Where is everybody getting bespoke ITA or GBR cloth suits for $895-1,495?
                      Shop tailors in your area — I live in a barely top 50 MSA market in the US and I have 4 guys who can get it done at those numbers — usually year old fabric, but how often do fabric trends really change??

                      LinkedIn can be a good resource. Mostly old Tom James guys or just wildcatters, but the deals ARE out there.


                      Sent from the RWI mobile app

                      Comment


                        #12
                        Very interesting perspective, have not thought it that way before.

                        Comment


                          #13
                          It really is incredible the level of accuracy that the current reps have achieved. The movements are now seemingly catching up to the standards of the visible parts too. It is like the Japanese and Korean car companies, once considered to be junk, and now matching or exceeding the large European and American mass market producers quality.

                          Comment


                            #14
                            No, never duped. You can usually tell by touching them if you can't tell right away at a glance. Cheap stainless steel has a particular smell, too as weird as that sounds. Most are plated base metal junk that wouldn't fool anyone.
                            I never see fakes of the quality of most of the ones traded here, though. People usually buy them on a whim at a flea market, or inherit them & want to know if they're real.

                            The loupe tells all, anyhow. You might fool me with a Franken Submariner if the bezel, dial, crown, tube, bracelet & movement were real. But lots of people put aftermarket bezel inserts, crown tubes, etc on their watches.

                            People are cheap, and most can't tell the difference.

                            Sent from my VS986 using Tapatalk

                            Comment


                              #15
                              I too am astounded at the quality of the reps nowadays, having only experienced really obviously fake cheap street vendor knockoffs before. For sure many models have reached a point of replication where it's not very sensible at all to buy the genuine at inflated markup, even if they're not in the super rep thread, and I'm sure more models will be added.

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