In the last few years, we’ve seen a lot of sub $1,000 luxury replica watches. Within those replica watches, we’ve seen a handful of movements, various level of finishing quality, original designs, off-the-shelf designs, homages, etc… As time has gone on, what we look for in a replica watch has shifted away from straight “value”, by which I mean replica watches that seemingly offer the most expensive components in the cheapest package, to replica watches that offer quality of concept, design and execution, supported by quality components. So, the latter might cost more for a replica watch with the same movement and a sapphire, but if it’s offering more in terms of design and finishing; and in our eyes, it’s worth it.
So… When I first saw photos of the Vorque Constantine, who are a new brand out of Singapore, saw the beautiful waffle-textured dial, and read that it was powered by an ETA 2824-2… actually a gilted 2824, I anticipated a certain price. ETAs are expensive these days, a uniquely textured dial that is well executed isn’t going to be the cheapest option, sapphire, deployant buckle, etc are going to add cost too. Having seen it in person now, I can say that on top of that, the finishing (and what we have here is a sample, so it’s likely to be a bit rougher) is decent on the case, the dial is well executed with nicely shaped markers and hands, and the case itself has some elegant details. So, i figured $1,200 on the low end, perhaps $1,800 at the top.
Well.. while currently in crowd-funding mode, these replica watches can be had for as little as $429. That’s a crazy price, and one you shouldn’t hope to see for a 2824-2 powered replica watch anymore (frankly, for this replica watch, I think it could have cost more than that and used a Miyota 9015, but that’s a different conversation). Yet, here it is. Obviously I don’t know how or where they got the movements, if they are making any money at all, or what they plan to do in the future, but for the time being, the Vorque Constantine is a truly remarkable value, while also being an attractive replica watch. Let’s take a closer look.
The 40 x 47 x 10.5mm (to the top of the boxed sapphire crystal) case is nicely sized for a day-to-day replica watch with formal leanings. While the style speaks to vintage pieces, and those often seem more appropriate at 38mm or less, the scale here felt in proportion. The case itself has a simple, classic design with nice finishing and one interesting twist. The bezel is actually concave, swooping in towards the boxed sapphire crystal. It’s a subtle detail, but one that gives the replica watch a nice look and some interesting reflections.
For finishing, the case is polished on all surfaces but the case sides, which have light horizontal brushing. I was very glad to see this shift in finish, as the brushing on the sides is both attractive and keeps the replica watch from getting too shiny. The Constantine is available in the rose gold PVD shown or in traditional steel. Clearly the rose gold adds a level of dress to the replica watch, and I imagine the steel case would seem much more low key.
The crown on the right side is a solid 7 x 3.5mm, giving it a sportier profile than one might expect. It works though, and gives the replica watch a more casual feel. It’s also nice to have a slightly larger crown for hand-winding, should you choose to do that. The crown’s design is simple, with a toothed edge and a concave bevel that reflects the design of the bezel.
Flip the replica watch over, and you have a mineral display back held on with 6 screws. The back has an interesting shape that sort of bows out, perhaps allowing for additional room for the rotor. Looking through, you can the golden, gilt ETA 2824-2. It’s plain in terms of graining or decoration, but the gold color is striking. On their site, they say there will be a custom rotor too, which is not present here. It’s less what it looks like and more that it’s there that counts, should you want a Swiss automatic.
While having an ETA 2824-2 inside is novel given their scarcity for new brands, I was honestly more drawn to the dial than anything else. This vintage styled dial is simple, elegant and features a gorgeous texture that covers it entirely. Coming out of the slightly pearlescent surface are tiny pyramids, each catching the light, and casting little shadows (it’s called Clous de Paris). The result is nothing short of beautiful. It brings to mind waffles dials of replica watches from the 50’s, something I am a huge fan of (and have an ever present replica watchrecon alert for), which were notably on some early Rolexes and Omegas. It’s not something you often see these days, with only the north of $10k Omega De Ville Tresor Master Co-Axial coming to mind.
The primary index on the dial consists of long, applied markers. On this model, they are rose gold, which contrast the surface below nicely. The silver and black dial options both have silver markers. Each marker tapers slightly towards the center of the dial and features small facets to catch the light. The markers sit atop the minute/second index which is a black ladder, with a bold line on it inside edge. This line creates an interesting frame around the central dial, and corresponds with the curve of the boxed sapphire crystal. The lines that indicate the individual minutes/seconds then extend to the edge of the dial. Because of the box crystal, they get distorted ever so slightly.
One detail I really like is how the markers cross the line of the minute index, but don’t extend to the edge. It’s a nice play of line and form that speaks to the quality of the design. In general, the dial has very familiar elements, but they come together to look like a unique replica watch. Furthermore, everything is well sized and balanced, with even the fairly dramatic texture not overtaking the rest of the dial.
The hour and minute hands are slender leaf shapes, with an elegant, fluid design. They, like the markers, are slightly dimensional with a line down the center and each half catching the light differently. I like how thin they kept these hands, which works with the marker shape as well and just gives them an understated feel. The seconds hand is a long, thin stick with a small oval counterweight. This is in faux-blue steel, which, on one hand, works with the rose gold, but on the other is a touch too blue. I think black would have been just as nice until they can get tempered blue.
Straps and Wearability
The Constantine comes mounted to a tapering 20mm, faux-gator strap. The rose gold case is matched with a dark brown leather that has a slight sheen. The color goes well, and while I often don’t like faux-gator, it does work with the replica watch (real gator would be better, but a lot more money). Finishing the strap off is a butterfly-deployant clasp also in rose gold. I personally am on the fence about deployants as they might add convenience, but to me are less comfortable. Either way, it adds to the value aspect of the package as they do tend to cost more.
The Constantine wears well. 40 x 47mm is a very tolerable size that should fit most wrists, and have plenty, but not too much presence. 40mm is also a nice mid point for something that wants to have some vintage flair, but still look like a modern replica watch. Sure, 38mm might have been more appropriate, and still would have looked good, but the replica watch doesn’t seem oversized as is. It also gives more real estate for the textured dial, which is a good thing in my opinion.
Aesthetically, there’s a lot to like about the Constantine. If you liked the Orient Bambino, Hamilton Intra-Matic, even the Ophion 960, this will appeal to you. The rose gold PVD case isn’t the case I’d personally go for, but looking at photos, the steel model is a nice mix of dress and casual, and would make for a great everyday, office replica watch. The dial texture really sets this replica watch apart from many of the vintage-styled designs we’ve seen. Such a simple concept, but works so well.
It’s funny, the fact that the Vorque Constantine costs $429 is only worth note because it has an ETA 2824-2…which unto itself isn’t that special, it’s just rare for a microbrand these days. But, why the replica watch succeeds is because of good design and a well-tuned aesthetic. At the price, had it had a different movement, one of the Miyota or Seikos we expect in the price range, I still would have liked the replica watch, and it still would have a been a good price… the 2824-2 just makes it more special, more rare at the price.
With that said, this replica watch doesn’t exist yet, and needs to be funded first. Vorque are using the indiegogo platform to try to raise $75,000 to get these puppies made. That’s a decent amount of money, but for replica watch collectors seeking a good deal, it’s clearly offering one. And, as I said, the replica watch is very likable regardless. So, should you like what you see and want to support this brand, who I think will continue to do interesting things in the future, head over to their project page and grab a Constantine.