Vintage Fakes

Before homages, clomages, and outright modern fakes there was another world. This was the world of the street hustler who offered you a fine Swiss luxury watch for an obscenely low price. Perhaps, they still exist in far away bazaars and flea markets, but I suspect that trade has moved online.

Unlike the nonsense scrambled letter watch brand names that are so common on AliExpress, these watches wanted to fool your eye. The name looked familiar. Who doesn't love a Hormilton?

Image

If it says "Electra" it must be a battery powered watch right?

Image

Do you wind an "Electronic" Bolivia?

Image

Is the "25" jewel count? Is that an Omega with a coronet?

Image
Image

The name was meant to deceive. Electric was new, "Electra" was just a name. In an era where watches wore their jewel count with pride, the "25" or whatever meant nothing whatsoever.

These were mostly cased and imported from Hong Kong in the late 1960's and early 1970's. Many, if not most, of the movements were Soviet, made off the books for export. They were almost all one jewel or no jewel pin pallet movements. Very few that actually work have survived.

All of these watches are for sale now online. These sellers aren't pretending that these are Longines, Bulova, Omega, or Hamilton. There are collectors of kitsch who prize these. Each of these sells for about twice what you would have to spend for a vintage Elgin in working condition.

Look how far we have come, you now need more than superficial knowledge and a loupe to tell a fake. Fifty years ago you just needed to spot the superfluous letters.

Image

Are those diamonds?

·
Image

Thank you for giving me justification to use this again!

·

Dude, this is awesome! I still have a Folex kicking around as a joke (though it is definitely more recent vintage than this). Perhaps a bit of deliberate faux kitsch?

Had no idea they were generally Soviet movements.

·

Oooo very interesting! These are so much more interesting than just straightforward copies! Loving the brand names they’ve chosen hahahaha

·
Edge168n

Dude, this is awesome! I still have a Folex kicking around as a joke (though it is definitely more recent vintage than this). Perhaps a bit of deliberate faux kitsch?

Had no idea they were generally Soviet movements.

My sourcing on the Soviet thing was a Popular Mechanics article from 1971 found on WUS. That seems a bit thin. It read like the Hong Kong watch manufacturers needed a bad guy to blame. In 1971 the Russians were the obvious bad guy.

·

Your telling me that if I make Seiko clones and sell them as "Seako" branded watches they could be worth more than a real Seiko in 40 years??

This puts "investment watches" into perspective. Sounds like a good street marketing campaign. Of course my ADs would all be "Doug" on the corner by the liquor store.

·

This is great. I have one of these that I wondered about for months until I started seeing similar designs in seemingly unrelated brands and realized that's just the design aesthetic of this era of fake watches. So weird!

·

Interestingly, I fancy all of the watches pictured. Fake, in this case, feels oh-so-good.

·

I was accosted by street hustlers during my first visit to NYC in the late 80's early 90's. Looking like a typical clueless tourist I was the obvious target for street entrepreneurs who actually did perform the jacket/coat trick that is flicked opens to reveal rows of watches attached to the inner lining.

I never bought anything nor have stopped to look at the brand names, but the experience is still alive in my memory as a lesson on why it's important to learn to blend with the surrounding.

·

Very enjoyable and informative read, thank you for sharing.

I find it interesting how the stereotype of 'Hey Kid wanna buy a watch?' actually used to be a regular occurance, as opposed to now being merely in the realm of Cartoons and mobster parody movies.

·

I love this Bolivia...

Image

I like that they have included the 'Date' label to avoid confusion as to what that number meant. Yes, it's a 'Datematic', but its always best to be clear.

·
Deeperblue

I love this Bolivia...

Image

I like that they have included the 'Date' label to avoid confusion as to what that number meant. Yes, it's a 'Datematic', but its always best to be clear.

I think this must be the greatest watch posted on the site. It’s just so wrong on so many levels, but genuinely punches well above its weight in that gold plate and shiny dial. Yes, please put Date next to the Date window, the numeral is red so is already more interesting than most jobbers, and why not be Electronic and 25-jewels. This is the watch equivalent of not wanting to know what you want to be when you grow up, and I am very much not one to ruin this little guys dreams. Dream big little Bolivia, you do you, and aim for that AD-sale, you deserve it.

·
Image

A mate brought this in to work for me to look at, an infamous 'gas station' fake with a basic French movement in it from the 50s,it was cool doing the research on it,and even better I got it working again.

·
Image
Image

If you ever see a movement like this run far, far, away.

·
Deeperblue

I love this Bolivia...

Image

I like that they have included the 'Date' label to avoid confusion as to what that number meant. Yes, it's a 'Datematic', but its always best to be clear.

I'd wear the heck out of this thing, it's awesome!

·
JBird7986
Image

Thank you for giving me justification to use this again!

"In The Pale Moonlight," one of my favourite episodes of Deep Space Nine!