Recently, there was an interesting thread in the Seiko & Citizen Watch Forum about copycat Seiko watches. Copycat manufacturers are not to be confused with counterfeit watch makers, who blatantly pass off their fake products as genuine ones.
Okay, counterfeit makers would prefer to be called by a more polite name “replica watch” manufacturers. Either way, it’s the same thing. It is an outright copyright and trademark infringement of the original brand owner and sales and distribution of such fake watches are considered a felony in most countries.
I’m not talking about homage watches either. A homage watch is one that is styled after a very well known and established model but with intentional visual alterations so as not to be sued by the original manufacturer of the watch.
Seiko, Casio, Citizen and Orient have been “guilty” of making homage watches designed after the ones from the famous Swiss brands - Rolex and Omega to name a few. Alpha, AMF, Invicta and Sandoz are also other watch companies that have made homage watches that are almost close to the real thing.
Perhaps one of the most widely copied watch in the world is the Rolex Submariner diver. The watch is a timeless classic design, thanks to product placements in the early James Bond movies, the Submariner is perhaps the most recognizable diver’s watch in the world. Even Tudor has its own version of the Submariner.
An original Rolex Submariner (left) and a homage Sandoz Submariner (right)
It’s so famous that you can get 99.9% perfect copies of the Rolex Submariner from the best replica watch manufacturers to el cheapo quartz fakes from the worst ones. It’s not surprising as the “Sub” has long established itself in the wonderful world of horology.
This post is about copycat watches that look like some well known Seiko and Citizen models. Probably one of the “Johnny-come-lately” makers is a manufacturer named Fajita. 🙂
Oh, sorry, I meant to say Fujita. It sure sounds like a Japanese brand but it’s not. It’s actually a Chinese manufacturer called the Fujita Watch Craft Co. Ltd that makes all sorts of watches under the sun, including digital/analog quartz, simple automatics and “Kinetic” Tourbillon mechanicals.
I don’t know why they used the name “Kinetic” to describe an automatic watch, as far as I know “Kinetic” is a protected trade mark of Seiko Time Corp and that Seiko Kinetics are nothing more than wrist motion powered quartz watches. Why Fujita would make a quartz-controlled watch with a Tourbillon escapement is beyond me. Maybe it’s an automatic after all and “Kinetic” was used to describe that the watch is motion powered (as do all automatics).
This model F391GS from Fujita is described as a “Kinetic Tourbillon”. Yeah, right.
Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery?
It’s one thing to copy the myriad fine watches from Switzerland. It’s another to copy low end models from Seiko and Citizen. The point of interest is that this company actually copied the Seiko SKX779K Black Monster and the SKX009K and branded them with their Fujita brand.
There’s a fine line between copycat and replica watches. While Fujita is not guilty of making counterfeit Seikos and Citizens – they are certainly to be ticked off for design copyright infringement.
Let’s see Fujita’s copies and the original designs from the original manufacturers. Don’t look surprised! 😉
Seiko SKX779K “Black Monster”
Well, in the comparison photos above it appears that Fujita not even copied Seiko’s SKX779K but even had the gall to use Seiko’s catalog photo and do a magical Adobe Photoshop job on the dial.
I mean, what are the chances both photos are not only showing the same date (Sun 6th) but also the exact time (10:08:42)? 😉
If the Fujita F312GS actually looks like the real Seiko Monster, I’ll have to tip my hat off to them. It takes a lot of effort in designing the molds to machine parts that look like the real model.
Seiko SKX009K classic diver
Seiko’s SKX009K is another best selling diver’s watch and it’s hardly surprising that Fujita cloned this watch. I do wonder though, how close to the real SKX009K in real life.
Citizen NY2300-09 200m diver
Not even Citizen was spared. You can see that the uncanny resemblance of the Fujita F313GS to the original Citizen NY2300 diver.
Who buys these copycat watches?
Interesting moot point. Why would anyone purchase a Fujita copy of a Seiko diver when they can get an original one? If you’re reading this article, chances are that you are already a Seiko watch fan and you wouldn’t even think of buying a Fujita.
The answer is yes, there will always be people who will buy copycat watches just as there are many who buy fake Swiss watches.
I should think there is a market for copycat watches. During my last visit to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, I had seen a Quemex brand watch that looked like my Seiko SKX779K Monster in one watch store. It was a poor copy of the Monster and it was also a quartz watch.
I happened to be wearing my Black Monster and went I actually showed my watch to the sales assistant, he called his employer to take a look at my Seiko. In broken English, the Arab watch seller said he had never seen the Monster before and asked where I bought it from. 😉
Later I noticed that many of the low end watch stores in the city of Jeddah also stocked Quemex Monsters. Hmm… must be one of the best sellers there.
A blue quartz Monster look-alike from Quemex (borrowed pic). You can see that it’s a poor copy of the real Seiko Monster.
Well, for every knowledgeable Seiko owner out there, there are more ignorant people who had never heard of or let alone, even seen the original Seiko and Citizen divers. These copycat watches are likely to be sold in the Third World countries, especially in remote towns where most of the population cannot afford a genuine Seiko or Citizen.
The prospective buyer will see the Fujitas, possibly alongside its genuine counterparts. The watch seller offers a much lower price than the originals. What the heck? They’ll buy the Fujita anyway. It looks “just like the Seiko” and might as well spend a fraction of a price of the real thing.
I’m not certain if Seiko and Citizen will sue Fujita for copying their designs. My guess is that sales of these knock-off divers would hardly put a dent into the two Japanese giant corporations’ profits. Then there are the litigation expenses and the hassles of hauling up this company to court.
Furthermore, these diver models constitute a tiny niche from Seiko’s global sales. Their bread-and-butter products have always been their plethora of quartz and Kinetic models – not to forget their countless Seiko 5 entry level automatics.
Citizen too, is concentrating on their Eco Drive models for some time. While they do have low end automatic divers such as the NY0040 and NY0045, these models perhaps represent a very small market for them.
With the increasing demand for replica and fake watches sold worldwide, it’s hardly surprising that copycat manufacturers want to get into the game too. I strongly doubt either Seiko or Citizen licensed Fujita to produce almost perfect copies of their products but as I mentioned earlier, it could be too much of a hassle to pursue this matter legally.
Nevertheless it’s interesting to know that Fujita took the trouble to make copycat watches based on Seiko and Citizen’s designs. 🙂