Monochrome Watches
An online magazine dedicated to fine watches

ATTACK OF THE CLONES! See What Happens When a Body and Face are CLONED – But the Soul is Nowhere to be Found!

| By Mario Squillacioti | 3 min read |
Bulova Royal Oak

I’m truly sorry to dredge up this subject once again – but I’ve been asked by some highly influential people to pontificate on the sordid subject of ‘so called’ clone watches.

A few weeks ago I shared an exchange of messages back and forth with Editor, Founder, Head-Honcho and newly-wed: Frank Geelen. This tête-à-tête was initiated by a ‘clone’ watch Frank saw in the window of an Italian jewelry shop. We then played a little game of ‘yeah – but did you know about THIS one’ sending links to auctions for clone watches back and forth. By the time we were done we were both a bit shocked at how many there were and we were also a bit horrified that the companies that created these watches were not fly-by-night organizations, they were generally well-regarded brands in the industry, with serious credentials and credibility at stake!


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Frank asked if I could revisit the subject touched upon in August’s write-up about the legal action between Audemars Piguet and Tommy Hilfiger (read it here). This time we’ve ratcheted up the stakes by focusing on real watch brands – not just a fashion designer’s ‘also ran’ watch contraptions. Bulova, place your hands on the dashboard – you are under arrest!

From the proud maker of the very first electronic wristwatch come a slew of clones! I know that I have mentioned the Bulova “Royal Oak” before. There’s one for sale on Ebay (click here). What the exact historical context is, we don’t know. Some rumors even say that Genta offered this design to Bulova, before selling it to Audemars Piguet. Whether that’s the case or not, Bulova has found “inspiration” from other brands on another occasion. It seems that the proud American firm dialed down in the rolodex to the section marked “R” for these. Tell me if they remind you of anything?

Bulova Day-Date


Bulova Submariner

Gevril(ly got to see these!) It literally (and accurately) states on the Gevril website: “Although the company has been making fine Swiss watches for more than 250 years, many people never heard of Gevril until it was acquired in 2001 by watch industry insider Samuel Friedmann.

Too true! Anonymity aside, Gevril as a holding company controls and/or distributes a basket of brands: Fortis and Lorenz two name two of the more horologically significant. How much ‘horological significance’ went into these? First up, a pastiche of a Gerald Genta creation that some of you may recognize.

Gevril Audemars Piguet ROO
GV2 Gevril Corsaro – Audemars Piguet RoyalOak Offshore Grand Prix

And then… well this:

Gevril Tribeca
Gevril Tribeca

Utterly Speechless / Cover bands:

In the music industry there is a tradition performing ‘cover’ songs. Performers pay homage (there’s that word again!) to the artists that inspire them by interpreting their songs. In the 60’s lots of acts that went on to acclaim in their own right began by performing cover versions of popular songs. It could be argued that a whole genre of music, the much-maligned ‘Progressive’ movement, was spawned by performers taking pop hits and transforming them into obtuse sounding songs with entirely new arrangements. But we’re not talking about music. We’re not talking about new arrangements or innovations. At the end of the day we’re talking about an octagonal bezel with 8 hexagonal screws in it. We are talking about a 40mm diving case with a black dial and the familiar face that we know as the Submariner! Also – we’re not talking about up-and-coming brands – or back alley creations. The watches shown here are made by successful organizations with lengthy histories and achievements… taking the easy way out.

Feel free to shock us! Comment with some of your favorite cover-watches! (Remember, is family entertainment, so do try to keep your comments respectable! 😉

9 responses

  1. The Royal Oak is definitely an AP design, and the Bulova is a clone. A little bit of research shows that the Bulova Royal Oak has an ETA 2892 movement. This movement was introduced in 1975 and the AP Royal Oak was introduced in 1972. So I think that pretty much makes it impossible for Bulova to have produced the Royal Oak before AP. Moreover, in this interview Gerald Genta himself states that the design of the Royal Oak was commissioned by AP:

  2. We’re fully aware of the entire history of the Royal Oak, Thomas. If you doubt, please search here on Monochrome and you’ll find all historical information and a link to the very same interview. However, some say… 😉

  3. Is that abomination you show: Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Grand Prix, really a Genta design or is it basically just as much a “pastiche” of the original Royal Oak, much worse in my view, than the Bulova?

  4. Bulova have a track record of muddying historical waters in order to try and hijack the achievements of others. See the Bulova version of the “moonwatch” saga (to which their two main ACTUAL contributions were a failed attempt to get the Speedy blocked from the US Government and a Bulova instrument dying and requiring that a Speedy be left in the craft as a substitute. Oh, the glory).

  5. I have read the interview from mr Genta and some things stick out. Mr Gents came up with the octagon design in one night? Riiigghhhttt. I’m a designer myself, things like that don’t work like that. Really. I’m sure that he already had designed it before hand, maybe at Bulova? And probably was dismissed. Kept it in his back pocket. Because… What did he design when working for Bulova? And indeed why did AP did not burn Bulova when they made the crude version of their Royal Oak? Because that crude version was the original version is my guess. And while burning all the other ‘clone’ watches. Let’s start with clone watch Submariner from Rolex! They leaned heavily on the Fifthy Fathoms design from Blancpain. And really how many designs can you make for a watch? I mean the watch industry pumps billions of dollars each year. There are thousands of watch brands, big ones, small ones, boutique ones and everything in between. I don’t believe any clone brand is taking money away from the ‘real’ brands. Because nobody who can afford a real watch buys a clone watch. Do they? So why would the fake brands cannibalise the big brands? They don’t. And when you can’t afford a real watch heck buy a ‘hommage’ watch or even a fake if you must. Because people will ask; Is that a real Rolex?… you know when they can or can’t afford one… so billions will be pumped around and big brands will not sell one watch less because of fake or hommage brands.


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