Luxury watch makers beginning to wage war on “pirated” smartwatch faces


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Growing pains are likely to come with any emerging product category. While Android Wear can’t claim credit for starting the smart watch category, it can take credit for its skyrocketing popularity. The platform’s potential grows day by day in many different areas, though there’s one big area they nailed early on: customization.

Custom watch faces are awesome and allows users to have the watch they want with little ease, and the flexibility to change how said watch looks at the simple click of a button. Unfortunately that great power comes with some great responsibility. Luxury watch designers don’t like the fact that folks are making digital renditions of their timepieces and they’re not hesitant to let anyone know about it.

According to TorrentFreak, the legal hounds from IWC, Panerai, Omega, Fossil, Armani, Michael Kors, Tissot, Certina, Swatch, Flik Flak and Mondaine have been issuing cease and desist orders and takedown notices for sites hosting smartwatch faces that copy their watch designs.

One such site is FaceRepo, a great one-stop shop for Android Wear watch faces that we’ve covered here in the past. The website allows users to upload their watch faces for others to download. Many of the uploads are great, unique and original creations, though some look to do nothing but emulate existing mechanical watch faces through the advent of digital design.

rolex watch face android wear

Moto 360 with a Rolex face

The owner of FaceRepo understands the sort of trouble that can come from hosting watch faces like these, and he’s no less respectful of the plight of the aforementioned watch designers:

Although some of the replica faces we’ve received take downs for are very cool looking and represent significant artistic talent on the part of the designer, we believe that owners of copyrights or trademarks have the right to defend their brand.

Thankfully he responds to all valid takedown requests with compliance so his site won’t be under legal scrutiny and pressure. While there aren’t many other popular destinations for finding custom watch faces (Google Play being the obvious first stop for many), these companies aren’t shy in protecting their work in the early going and have seemingly issued a warning shot for anyone who might look to step on their toes in the future.

Quentyn Kennemer
The "Google Phone" sounded too awesome to pass up, so I bought a G1. The rest is history. And yes, I know my name isn't Wilson.

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  1. IMO the whole point of these high end watches is to purchase impressive engineering and meticulous design to display as art. If these companies can’t compete just because you can put a similar appearance on a screen then something else is wrong with them.

    1. Pretty sure there’s nothing at all wrong with Rolex.

      1. Rolex watches aren’t good enough to command the prices they get. I have crappy Timex watches that have lasted longer than the 2 Rolex watches I have. Hell, I think I have a Rolex knockoff that lasted longer as well.

        1. Aaaand I call BS on the Interweb Rolex Denier.

    2. You’re absolutely right; if I owned one of these physical watches, I’d almost be embarrassed at the message this sends: your cheap digital image, with fake drop shadows and all, is basically just as good as the real thing. Furthermore, the way to approach the future is with open arms, not with your head in the sand—these companies should commission designers to make official watch face designs. I mean, if I WANT a virtual Rolex on my wrist, that’s what I WANT and if you’re not there to sell it to me, in a way, that’s your problem…

      1. There’s nothing stopping Rolex et al from making their own smart watch. Who knows, if one of the biggies jumps in and does it right, they could lock up a whole new demographic that wouldn’t normally wear their watches. It might be enough to overcome the initial development hurdles.

      2. Nobody is mistaking a digital watch for a luxury watch. The reason they are even upset is because it damages their image- They don’t want to see the word rolex on a crappy piece of 300 dollar junk.

  2. Just gonna sit back and watch the most anticapted fight of the year!. Oh wait but the year is ending

  3. I think having a Rolex watch face on a smart watch is the easiest way yet for someone to tell you have a fake Rolex. But I do understand where the watch manufacturers are coming from. But having them removed from distro sites won’t get rid of them. I’ve seen lots of posts on Reddit where watch face creators simply offer the faces for download from Dropbox and other sites like that.

  4. This reminds me of how the Music Industry responded to pirating and looked how well that worked for them. In the end it won’t play out the same though because no one planning to buy a high end watch will forego that purchase because there’s a replica face on a digital watch.

    1. You’re comparing apples and bowling balls

      1. I think I admit that by saying, “in the end it won’t play out the same…” considering a pirated album and a sold album is the same tangible product and in this example it is not. This reminds me of the music industry because they had the same reaction. They were slow to change and quick to remind everyone of their legal rights.

  5. Step 1 – get rid of Touchwiz and go full android. You can still add bloatware to distinguish
    Step 2 – Get rid of stupid button
    Step 3 – make a decent battery cover

    All 3 of those happen and I’ll be first in line

    1. Wrong article

      1. LOL but I agree with the statement made there lol

  6. What I find hilarious more than anything else is how “cool” this new digital watch craze is. In another year or two, hipsters will make REAL watches cool again. And RICH hipsters will go for mechanical watches.

    1. Alas, “free market” economics.

  7. The people who should be mad are the people who make fake Rolex’s. They are the only ones losing money.

  8. On the side of those watch makers.

  9. lol who cares? surprised they spent legal money on something so insignificant…bc people are gonna really try to play off their moto 360 as a rolex bc of a digital face. . . . .

    1. Are people trying to play off their Galaxy S as an iPhone?

      1. Samsung is

        1. That explains why every one of their endless offerings of commercials and print ads from the last few years focus on pointing out the DIFFERENCES between Galaxy devices and iPhones, and how the iPhone is NOT a Galaxy….yea, that makes perfect sense.

    2. moron

  10. This is flagrant copyright infringement. I actually CAN believe people are defending it here because no matter how flagrant the theft is, nerds are always on the side of piracy, unless it’s a minority physically stealing a CD or DVD from a store. Wait until one of you develops an app and everyone rips it off, then see how you feel!

    1. But this isn’t even copying anything. It’s basically a damn picture of a finely made mechanical device.

  11. So I can’t take a picture of a rolex and hang it up anywhere? or cut it out and tape it to my wrist? come rip it off my cold, dead wrist. pic relevant: unauthorized use of a company logo. quick, sue this fool and make him shave his head!

    1. Legally that’s probably fair use haha

    2. This is free advertisement, we’re good here. Move along, nothing to see here nothing to see!

  12. I think this actually presents an opportunity for watch brands to release watch faces for smart watches themselves. For most people a smartwatch will never replace a luxury watch – however it can be used as an accessory for certain days or for the gym – give your fans official watch face tokens for free when they buy your watches or for free when signing on to your websites. It could be an interesting way to advertise.

  13. upload the watchfaces on torrents and aptoide. Cease and Desist *that*.

  14. Time to start torrenting watch faces now. :/

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