While dismissed by many, I think there is a certain place for almost any type of homage watch. Let me explain.
Here are three "scenarios" (to some, those might be "hot takes", but I consider them to be merely lukewarm):
1. The straight up AliExpress-type of homage as a viable, safe and (mostly) legal way to get a feel for certain aspirational, contemporary references. If you want to find out whether, say, a Sub really is for you, whether it's worth the saving up involved etc. there aren't too many other options. Not everyone has that buddy who is willing to support your personal research with a 10k+ loaner for weeks and months. And the two-tone reference at your local AD that you tried on last week didn't tell you quite enough during the two minutes you had it on the wrist.
If you eventually do make up your mind in one way or the other, you can still hand it over to your nephew. Just don't fool yourself by mistaking the test balloon for the airship.
2. The timepiece that pays homage to very old and virtually unobtainable references. While there are still some chinese options (take the much loved San Martin SN004-G, for example), more reputable brands start joining the party, like Timefactors/Smiths with their rather obscure, yet beautiful Rolex Commando homage (see picture). To me, this is way less controversial than the first scenario, since reverse-engineering something that looks like it fell out of a Phillips catalogue with an estimate of six digits (that you wouldn't daily anyway, even if you could afford it) feels way more honorable, devoted and legit than any "PAGRNE DESIGN EXPLORER GMT SUBMASTER CERTIFIED SINCE 2019 YACHT".
3. Watches that pay homage to a certain era/general style of watches without copying one specific reference. For some this might not even qualify as an homage, for others it sums up everything a true homage (in the very sense of the word) should be. Take Lorier's transparency about how they mixed and matched design cues taken from different icons, or Vario's attention to detail revitalizing the WWI trench watch. In this case, a decision for this kind of watch is not a compromise out of necessity, but a deliberate choice.
Do you agree? Did I miss something?
Classic menswear enthusiast, shoe aficionado, collector of vintage perfumes and colognes... Oh, and I love watches. Preferably sub 40mm.