Hello Gentlemen. Why buy a Luxury watch? Why do we love watches like we do?
Investment? Quality Timekeeping? Status? Heirloom? Talking Point? Luxury Accessory? Life Companion?
When staring longingly at a prestige brand, luxury watch, many of us will find ourselves torn between the financial cost of the timepiece and the potential benefits of owning it.
But what, exactly, are those benefits? Why do so many of us make the plunge and invest our hard-earned money in a prestigious brand-name watch? Do we really need a luxury watch? We want one, but that’s not quite the same thing.
Have you ever experienced the sometimes almost unexplainable bond that can form between you and your timepiece? A ‘romance’ with this amazing little product that is attached to you journeying through life with you enjoying the good times and enduring the bad times.
A watch is an aesthetic pleasure. What do you look at more often each day (that makes you happy) than your watch. Modern phones are competing for this adoration but for many, a fine watch will always trump a Mobile Phone for feel-good factor.
Let’s take a no-nonsense look at why men love to own and wear luxury watches:
1. It’s with you all the time
A watch is always with you. Close to you. Reminding you. Evoking feelings of happiness and pride. Mobile phones are often put away out of sight. Luxury pens are only used occasionally. Classy man-bags are often stowed away. Nice wallets hide snuggly out of sight. Cars live outside. But watches are always present. Always. No matter what the occasion – from exercising to attending important functions to cuddling your family, your watch is right there, living your everyday life with you.
A top-quality timepiece is your best opportunity to discreetly show the world who and what you are, and that is one of the reasons why every man needs a luxury watch. It makes perfect sense.
There are few treasures you always have with you. You can’t take your car or your iPad in the shower. But your trusty watch is always there. Your wrist feels strange when you take it off. Because it’s always with you, it becomes a part of you.
At the risk of sounding appallingly sentimental, it becomes your partner, your wingman. It doesn’t bombard you with information and noise like your smartphone does – it just unobtrusively carries on keeping your day on track, whatever you are doing. It even reminds you what the date is.
2. It offers quality timekeeping
Beyond aesthetics, there is a one very basic thing that every watch must do well: keep the time. Skilled artisans are usually behind the crafting of luxury timepieces.
Prestige brand watchmaking companies employ master horologists to put together their signature timepieces in state-of-the-art facilities (often in Switzerland), where standards of craftsmanship are kept remarkably high; for instance, Patek Philippe’s timepieces are so intricate that they typically take between 10 months (for basic models) and 2 years (for extremely complex models) to be manufactured.
This top-tier level of quality, in craftsmanship as well as materiel, ensures that luxury watches are able to reliably keep the time – often for decades or more – with only minor tune-ups being necessary every five years or so.
When you factor in the many additional features that luxury watches include, such as water-resistance or aeronautical gauges, or chronometers, or perpetual calendars or moon phases, their legendary reliability becomes all the more impressive to behold.
3. A well-chosen watch could be a stellar investment
Although it is true that luxury timepieces are investments in the functional sense that they will last their buyers many years, they are also investments in the sense that they are composed of valuable substances which retain value over time. One need only look at gold’s meteoric rise in value over the past decade to be reminded of the potential long-term value of jewellery pieces composed of such precious metals.
Lower quality watches like those made of plastic or plated alloys, almost never command impressive prices in the resale market over long periods of time.
The other factor in a luxury timepiece’s long-term investment value is in its prestigious brand name, which makes it all the more appealing to watch collectors, many of whom will gladly relieve themselves of thousands of £$€ in exchange for decades-old prestige watch brand models.
Naturally, this depends on the watch. Some watches depreciate (although not with the alarming speed of a new car), but others can hold or increase their value. Rolex watches are regarded as being one of the sounder investments; however, if this is one of your main considerations when choosing a watch, talk to me before you make your choice.
And there are other meanings of investment: you are investing your money in a watch you hope will last for your lifetime, possibly even beyond that as a family heirloom. You are paying for the watchmaker’s investment in the best possible materials, skills, and technology. If nothing else, your watch is an asset, a tangible item that can’t be used up, spent, run into the ground, or go out of date
4. It presents a subtle display of wealth
Let’s be brutally honest: in this world, looks matter.
And just as a prestigious brand is held in high esteem on the market, in the social sphere, luxury timepieces are widely respected and easily recognized by people who appreciate details and luxury. Particularly when paired with other tasteful clothing choices – such as business suits, tuxedos, or semi-formal wear for casual events – luxury timepieces are accessories that identify their wearers as successful men.
Such watches subtly display wealth in a manner that is quiet enough so as to not be self-aggrandizing, yet just bold enough to never be mistaken. One need only look at the prevalence of luxury watches among the world’s most successful and powerful men, from Top celebrities, American Presidents to FTSE100 CEOs, to appreciate this fact.
Particularly discerning eyes are often drawn to accessories and, as quality attracts quality, luxury timepieces are a sure signal to cultivated women that the wearer of such a piece understands and appreciates a refined quality of life.
While flashy cars and over-priced champagne might scream a recent payday, luxury timepieces have come to epitomize wealth with an understated confidence that has nothing to prove.
5. It can be passed from Father to Son
As is already apparent, a luxury timepiece is a socially effective and intrinsically valuable investment.
But for men with even greater concerns in life than peers and money, a quality timepiece can be a meaningful heirloom that lasts for generations.
Tasteful and well-manufactured watches are timeless pieces that can be treasured and passed down from father to son. A young boy growing up, finally becoming big enough to wear the watch his father wore, and which his father’s father wore before that, is an archetypal tradition symbolic of the most important duty a man has: looking after his family.
I personally fell hook, line, sinker for Patek Philippes marketing message of “Begin your own tradition” and “You never actually own a Patek Philippe, you merely look after it for the next generation.”
While monetary inheritance is often of little comfort when a child has lost a parent or grandparent, a timepiece is a personal effect that reminds those to whom it is bequeathed of its previous owner’s lifetime, success and love for his survivors, making a lasting quality timepiece an ideal gift for generations to come, even during the most difficult of times.
And leading on from this, because a good watch lasts, it can be passed down from generation to generation. An object offers limited consolation for the loss of a loved-one; however, glancing down at the watch on your wrist, knowing it was such an intimate part of the person’s everyday wear, brings a feeling of closeness and continuity.
There’s a rite of passage here. The young man is old enough to wear his father’s watch; the outsize, vintage Rolex finally fits his adolescent wrist, and he’s ready to assume the steady, reliable duties of the man of the house (qualities he shares with the watch).
Just try to get the Christopher Walken monologue from Pulp Fiction out of your head.
6. It allows you to accessorise
Let’s face it, we’re often a little bit envious of the ladies. They can liven up a dull work suit with some well-chosen jewellery, or a smart bag, or shoes they like to describe as “killer”. We can’t. Even our socks are dull. But a watch, a watch is allowed, even encouraged; and as it’s the only bit of jewellery (save a wedding band) that it’s acceptable for a man to wear, we need to make it count.
A luxury watch is a wonderful statement piece that enhances your whole look. Like a good handbag, it can say a lot about you. So choose one that suits your style. You may be a minimalist Calatrava sort of man, or like the aviation-influenced gadgetry of the Navitimer, or the sporty look of a Speedmaster.
7. It transcends fashion
A classic watch never goes out of fashion. The effortless grace of a Royal Oak timepiece does not fade with the years. A 1960s Rolex Submariner still looks stylish.
Some prestige watch brands keep evolving, with subtly-adjusted new looks and features. However, their soul remains the same, one of the things about these classic watches that transcends fashion. Search out the spirit of a watch, as well as the style of its dial.
Of course, some watches are firmly of their era. If you’re looking for your life partner, choose a watch that isn’t too on-trend (Hublot, Franck Muller, Ulysse Nardin). A good watch is timeless.
8. It’s a great talking point
You are aiming for a subtle display of wealth; someone has noticed your treasured timepiece and you’re delighted. If it’s appreciated, you have that clannish pleasure of meeting a like-minded person. You and your new friend can now have an enjoyable half-hour discussing the relative merits of different watches, no doubt moving on to other common ground. This is an interesting aspect of quality watch ownership: you have chosen a good timepiece that stands out from the crowd, yet it’s great to feel part if that discerning, watch-wearing tribe. And while we’re on the subject of talking, we all use our hands a lot when we speak (yes, British men, even you). A great opportunity to discreetly flash that watch…
9. You appreciate fine engineering
You wouldn’t buy an iPhone with a transparent case back; however, peering at the engine of a watch, with all its intricate parts, is as reassuring as looking at your car engine. It doesn’t matter that you don’t really know what all the bits do, and that you’d be clueless if something went wrong, it still feels solid and familiar, and far less alien than the insides of a digital device. A classic watch should inspire awe as well as affection. A watch such as the Rolex Submariner is an engineering icon like a Vulcan, an E-type Jag, Concorde.
And to be frank, you just love the gadgetry and performance of your watch. You may never take your Seamaster to depths of 300m – but isn’t it great to know that you could?
10. It’s a rarity
It goes without saying that market-stall digitals are knocked out by the boatload. Your luxury watch hasn’t been. Painstakingly handcrafted in numerous different stages by expert horologists, it is unlikely that your watch is just one of a million. When a watchmaker says that their new model is a Limited Edition, it is exactly that. For example, the IWC – Big Pilot IW502628 created a limited edition of just 70 units – a remarkably limited edition for a commercial tie-in from a big brand maker.
Whichever luxury watch you wear, it’s unlikely that you’ll keep bumping into people sporting exactly the same model. A great statement of individuality.
Why buy a luxury watch? In Conclusion
Ultimately, although any watch can, for a period of time, do the simplest duty of keeping the time, luxury timepieces offer those willing to invest in them more than a lifetime of satisfaction.
The skilled craftsmanship that is behind these pieces and the premium value of the precious metals that go into them ensure ultimate durability, precision and retained value. The wearers of luxury timepieces are the men who may quietly own things that are synonymous with refined wealth, yet whose success remains tastefully understated thanks to a true sense of class. A well made mans wristwatch combines inspired design, technical innovation and precise manufacturing and, as there are watches to suit every personal taste and every individual style, there is plenty of options to chose from when it comes to matching a watch to a wardrobe or a personality.
Contribution credits to Roman Sharf and Antonio Centeno