Are Luxury Watches Worth It?
Both luxury and affordable watches tell the time to a similar degree of accuracy. So are they luxury watches worth it?
Rolex, Omega, Patek Philippe, Cartier and their ilk are all wonderful examples of horological engineering, but they cost thousands of pounds on average. Sometimes tens, or even hundreds, of thousands in some cases.
Then you have the affordable end of watch keeping. Casio, Timex, Hamilton, Seiko and their ilk. I tend to think of affordable watches as anything under £500. Having said that, I get that for many people, £500 for a watch really isn't affordable, but we need to standardise here, folks. 🙃
So if I take my £75 Berny diver, or my £170 Seiko 5 and compare them to a friend's £5,000+ Rolex Oyster, where do things line up?
- All have high quality, tried and tested, automatic mechanical movements
- The Berny and the Rolex have sapphire crystal, whereas the Seiko has mineral glass
- All have a stainless steel case and are highly accurate, as mechanical watches go
Why you so expensive?
So what warrants the obnoxiously high price of the Rolex? Well, for me it's two things:
- Brand recognition
- Quality of components
I think we can all agree that the movements in the Berny and the Seiko are not even close to the quality of the Rolex. Same goes for the case, the strap, the bezel, and pretty much every single component that goes into the watch.
But my plucky watches are still stainless steel. The Berny still has a sapphire crystal. And both are still sporting a high quality, Japanese movements. So this still begs the question, is the Rolex still worth a price tag that's many orders of magnitude over anything I own?
I don't think it is. And that's why I prefer to collect affordable watches. If I run my Seiko and Berny for a month, and my friend runs in Rolex, the times will not be that far out from one another.
Ultimately, they all look good (in my opinion) and do a good job of telling the time. But I'm thousands of pounds better off thanks to my watch choices.
But your friend owns an icon
Yes, the Rolex Oyster, as with most Rolex watches, is an iconic watch. My Berny is an AliExpress special, so that is far from iconic, but I would argue that the Seiko 5 is also an icon.
It's been around since the early 60s, and comes in hundreds of different variations. People around the world love them and keep them for many years. Plus, a watch doesn't have to be expensive to be an icon.
This isn't some kind of reverse snobbery here, folks. Far from it. I think luxury watches are amazing. I look at my friends Rolex and it is a beautiful thing - I'm just not prepared to pay that kind of money for a watch.
If you have 2 luxury watches in your collection, vs my 40(ish) affordable watches, more power to you. The beauty of watch collecting is that we can all do our own thing and enjoy the hobby in different ways.
I'll end this post with the tagline of Balthazar, as user over on WatchCrunch:
Likes cheap watches. Not bothered about brands.
I'm with you there, Balthazar. But what do you think? What am I missing when it comes to luxury watches?
Please use the button below to drop me an email; I'd love to have a good old chat about this!
Oh, and happy new year for 2023, folks!
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