For the record I'm not a fan per se of homages. I would also personally rather buy something authentic and true to its own manufacture rather than having a copy of another model. In fact, I've always convinced a particular friend to not buy homages or fakes and save up for the real thing because I know in the end he will otherwise regret his purchase, but that's only because I know it's within his means and he does actually appreciate watch manufacturers in general. But he does have the means and the ability to appreciate certain brands. Many people do not.
Case in point, I too would rather look at Fortis, Oris and Damasko etc.. over a Kingston, but that's because I enjoy watches and know a little about them and take pride in knowing I have something original on my wrist that I've chosen. However there are many out there that want that Submariner or "X" look without the price tag. Heck, there are some that may even like the MKII aesthetic more than the Rolex branded orginal - who knows? Some have no interest in looking for alternatives either because they're not really into the whole watch culture, are too stubborn to give up on their aesthetic preference, or are just too damn lazy to look.. again who knows? Even though I wouldn't buy an Invicta diver, there are plenty of people out there who love em for what they are - a Rolex clone, without the Rolex tag. It's not my preference but that's not really what we're talking about..
I agree with you about these companies that really are just borrowing another brand's prestige, and we're talking about homages here and not fakes, I just feel there's something inherently wrong with the notion that if someone can't or won't afford a Submariner than they're wrong to buy a MKII or an Invicta. If it was so wrong, and I'm sure it's not for Rolex' lack of legal trying, these homages wouldn't be able to be procured legally as they are now. But that's another debate.
If luxury goods were restricted so consumers could only buy the "original", then think about this as it pertains to electronics alone - we'd have far fewer TV/Smartphone/computers from far fewer companies that have basically retread the same design in smaller and cheaper cases with cheaper parts etc.. By your theory, no one should be allowed to buy a Vizio when originally Vizio was blatantly copying Sony and Samsung's LCD and Plasma models (when Vizio first came out..), and everyone should thus be forced to have a Samsung or Sony, or live without an LCD..
I have no delusions - these homages are indeed cheaper copies of the real thing. Whether they're truly there to pay 'homage' or just cashing in is probably somewhere in between although again that's subject for another debate. The fact they exist for people to own a particular timepiece look if they so choose is fine with me. On the street I'll know that he's wearing a Panerai Homage and not the real thing, and so will he.
alright NOW I've feel like I've beaten this horse enough.
I understand your point.
But when you think about it there are literally zillions of non-homage watches out there that are affordable and genuinely interesting - so why do people still go for homages? The elephant in the room is the borrowed prestige of the original watch.
That Kingston which RogerP likes was 1100 GBP - which is well into the territory inhabited by interesting companies like Fortis, Oris, Baume et Mercier, Damasko, Stowa, etc. If you went vintage you could pick up a spectacular Omega Constellation "pie pan" or Universal Geneve Bicompax for that price, and have enough left over to service the watch too. Second hand non-vintage would get you a Nomos or maybe a Tudor.
So really... there is no excuse.
Homages offend me on an intellectual and aesthetic level. They're lazy unimaginative solutions released by lazy unimaginative companies eager to make a quick buck by standing on the shoulders of giants. The term "homage" itself is the basest form of PR triumph, pure marketing doublespeak.
The homage buyer pays for the privilege of an unregulated and completely unfinished or minimally finished ebauche in a cheap steel case that will be finished in a ho-hum way and without a shadow of doubt be a pale imitation of the original. I can guarantee you your homage company would have gone bust in 20 years because they are simply not there for the long haul and their business model depends mostly on the goodwill of cheapskates... who are a fickle bunch and will move on to the next homage company that sells the same thing or close enough for $30 less.
Given their very existence is a sort of common-sense defying anachronism when you really think about it, I don't believe in too many half measures when it comes to little luxuries like mechanical watches - and homages are a half measure too far for me, the "Gacci", "Chenel" or "Luis Vuitton" bags of the watch world. Would you let your wife carry one of those?
I guess there are those homage lovers who will call me a watch snob, but I'm happy to be one if it means that I am passionate about something actually worth preserving, something with deep roots in tradition and skill... unlike the homage anti-snob who too often is happy to hoist the banner of faux egalitarianism. Just drop by any of the homage forums... you'll see what I mean.