Is a Frankenwatch ever okay?

Frankenwatches are an important topic and we have had over 643 unique posts on Watchcrunch discussing this according to google.
I recently purchased three refurbished watchs from ebay. They claimed to be vintage Seikos and Orients. And when someone posted their "vintage" Seiko they were met with criticism. Though the watches movement was made from old Seiko parts as well as the dial and case, but it wasn't a "Seiko."
This made me remember the crazy price people paid for the perfect "fake" watch: the 1957 OMEGA Speedmaster that sold at Phillips for $3.4 million. This was obviously a con, but even Omega employees were involved, so was it truly fake?
What even is a fake watch? Is it just something that misrepresents what it actually is? Then just about every hommage would be fake... or is fake a counterfeit piece?
What about a customized g-shock or a watch I build myself?
So is a Frankenwatch fake or not and if not why isn't it okay?
54 votes

IMO customizing something collectible in order to pose as something it isn't (whether to make profit off of, or for clout), is fake behavior. I talked with a guy once who swapped a Speedy with an aftermarket Mitsukoshi dial, and a different style Omega bracelet, so his would look like a coveted Mitsukoshi. He sold it and made a huge profit - this to me is incredibly deceitful and dishonest.

Modding a g-shock, even seikos or whatever else, is fine in my eyes as long as it isn't trying to be deceitful for some sort of personal gain.

No one is getting cheated buying a used watch for 40 bucks no matter what is on the dial. The sum of the parts and labour are worth it. Cheating people for big dollars is the bad part. Buying a $40.00 Oris is not the same as a $10,000.00 fake sub. It's all down to the amount of injury.

There is this huge sliding scale from "reassembled from legitimate and correct official parts that are totally correct but just not the original set as it came from factory" to "haha, barely resembles a factory product inside or out."

The former is totally fine with me. If the crown came off an identical donor watch, I'm not concerned one bit. Similarly, a total mishmash of a Mumbai special with fantasy dial and mystery provenance of all parts is fine as long as one knows that this is what it is.

I really can't get into the hyper-authenticity patrol, where one gets dismissive of an aftermarket crystal or spring bar or something like that. The whole mentality assigns some magic to an item and maker that is way outside of reason. I get it if one is a top notch collector, but for those of us whose feet touch the ground, there is no point in pretending to be on such a high horse.

I think frankenwatches are not okay if they are put together with malign intent to deceive/scam a customer.

I think frankenwatches are okay if they are a modded watch put together for your own enjoyment, to dabble in watchmaking as a hobbyist, and customize or assemble your "dream watch".

neveroddoreven

IMO customizing something collectible in order to pose as something it isn't (whether to make profit off of, or for clout), is fake behavior. I talked with a guy once who swapped a Speedy with an aftermarket Mitsukoshi dial, and a different style Omega bracelet, so his would look like a coveted Mitsukoshi. He sold it and made a huge profit - this to me is incredibly deceitful and dishonest.

Modding a g-shock, even seikos or whatever else, is fine in my eyes as long as it isn't trying to be deceitful for some sort of personal gain.

That鈥檚 also fraud and illegal.

I used to get some of my old Rolex bubbleback watches serviced by a self taught watch guy who acquired cartons of old discarded watches obviously many were not Rolex or movements from vintage Rolex watches but the parts that he salvaged from donor movements fitted and were technically correct to the movements that he was servicing, the watches were keeping correct time. I sold a considerable number to dealers who made a point of compromising what they paid when I did admit that the decades old watches were made to operate with donor movement parts. Over the years I would occasionally run into a few of my watches on wrists of local enthusiasts who paid premium prices because the watches were advertised, sold as authentic. Vintage was more time consuming than I desired in a hobby.

OldSnafu

No one is getting cheated buying a used watch for 40 bucks no matter what is on the dial. The sum of the parts and labour are worth it. Cheating people for big dollars is the bad part. Buying a $40.00 Oris is not the same as a $10,000.00 fake sub. It's all down to the amount of injury.

All injuries matter. If a watch is sold as something it is not, that is fraud. If a watch is sold as an advertised modification, that鈥檚 fine.

cornfedksboy

That鈥檚 also fraud and illegal.

No kidding

Fake watches are items that look like watches but that do not actually function as watches.

Counterfeit watches are watches that are not the brand that they claim to be.

My understanding is that 鈥淔ranken watches鈥 are generally assembled from genuine parts that match the brand on the dial (but not always or not always 100 percent of the parts), but the parts may be put together in combinations that the original manufacturer did not make.

Generally, I don鈥檛 see anything wrong with franken watches. They can be fun for a hobbyist and they provide for a way to use parts that may otherwise be discarded. I think I would have a problem if the watch uses counterfeit parts or if a seller misrepresents the watch as something other than what it really is.

I think there鈥檚 a clear line of separation that has nothing to do with the amount of money at hand.

Fake: these are like the hand wind Oris on eBay, I鈥檝e bought a few. Some are decent but there鈥檚 nothing Oris about it.

Counterfeit: a clone, a copy, created only for deception.

Franken: genuine parts although not belonging together. An example would be my Rado. It鈥檚 all Rado parts but it鈥檚 he dial is wrong one for the case reference.

Modified: your Seikos, Casios, Vostoks. Taking a production watch and building it to taste. Dials, bezels, hands鈥

I'd say there should be an it depends option:

-If it's all Omega parts but put together from different watches it's an Omega in my opinion. Just not an "original" example. With cars we see this all the time. Someone buys a frame and engine block then builds or replaces everything else. Those aren't considered "fake" Corvettes, "fake" Mustangs, "fake" Ferraris, or "fake" Porches. They are just rebuilt.

-If someone offered to sell me a Speedmaster with dial, hands, case, and movement that were all genuine Omega but from different eras for $1,000 I'd buy it and wear it without a second thought.

-If the seller is honest and there is no intent to deceive there's no harm and no foul in a rebuilt or Frankenwatch.