Omega and Richemont go to war over pirated watch faces for Moto 360

Luxury watch makers go after ripped-off designs
Wareable is reader-powered. If you click through using links on the site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more

If the Apple Watch wasn’t enough of a headache for the likes of Rolex, Omega and Swatch, the pirating of their classic watch faces for use on the latest smartwatches just adds insult to injury.

In a development so obvious and futile that we actually face-palmed, a cohort of Swiss watchmakers have sent out cease and desist letters to sites offering smartwatch faces that rip off classic wristwatch designs.

IWC, Omega, Fossil, Armani, Swatch and Mondaine, which famously sued Apple for $21m over the use of its iconic Swiss railway clock face in iOS, are all attempting to limit the distribution of their designs via torrent sites and smartwatch apps.

Essential reading: Best Android Wear watches

A post on Torrent Freak showed that Omega had targeted a forum offering its designs for download and it has been successful:

“Although the forum would not talk on the record, its operator revealed that the content in question had been removed.”

It’s a story that’s been often repeated, and the watchmaking fraternity must be aware there’s only so long that they can keep their designs off the web. A quick search revealed plenty of big-brand options still readily available.

You can't blame the watch designers for being militant about their IP, although the idea that the watch face would be enough to make a prospective buyer choose a $200 smartwatch over a $10,000 luxury timepiece is rather comic. However, it could be an opportunity.

We can only hope that those brands learn lessons from the music and film industries and realise the value in offering their designs legitimately. If they sold them officially via Google, Motorola and LG, it could nip piracy in the bud, and usher in a new era of relevancy for brands. Like that will ever happen.

TAGGED Smartwatches

How we test

James Stables


James is the co-founder of Wareable, and he has been a technology journalist for 15 years.

He started his career at Future Publishing, James became the features editor of T3 Magazine and and was a regular contributor to TechRadar – before leaving Future Publishing to found Wareable in 2014.

James has been at the helm of Wareable since 2014 and has become one of the leading experts in wearable technologies globally. He has reviewed, tested, and covered pretty much every wearable on the market, and is passionate about the evolving industry, and wearables helping people achieve healthier and happier lives.

Related stories