atikovi wrote: ↑
Mon Apr 27, 2020 10:33 am
This is my first post in this novel thread, and think the amount you pay over maybe, $500, is just for added bling. As in, a $1,000 watch has the same guts as a $10,000 watch and it's the diamonds and precious metals added to the outside are what make the price go up.
This is a bit of a misunderstanding of what watch enthusiasts look for. Brand prestige is a thing, but there is a substance to where that prestige comes from besides just snob appeal. Just as you can have an incredible BMW driven by someone who knows nothing of the vehicle besides the logo, you also have watch buyers who only want a Rolex because it's expensive. Nevertheless, there is a lot going on under the hood besides the name on the front.
Most luxury watch cases are made of 316L steel (or Rolex's proprietary 'Oyster steel', whose material properties has been much debated in watch circles), and is about the least expensive part of the construction. Grand Seiko and Citizen make a fair number of titanium cases. The point is, the presence or absence of precious metals has very little bearing on the cost of the watch. What you are mostly paying for is (1) the watch movement, (2) aesthetics, and (3) fit & finish.
Watches in the $500 - $3,000 range usually have a mass produced movement - most commonly an ETA 2824 or 2892, Sellita SW-200 or SW-300 (which are clones of the ETA movements, as the patent expired in the 80s), or a Miyota 9015. The standard variants are all roughly equivalent movements, but the ETA and Sellita movements each come in four different grades based on accuracy. The more expensive watches in this range are rarely stock movements - they will usually be modified by the particular manufacturer. Modifications can mean decorations of the movement, adjustments to increase accuracy or power reserve, shock or magnetic resistance, etc. These modifications are almost always done by hand by skilled labor - it's made in an assembly line, but the tolerances of a mechanical watch movement are such that individual attention is required for high end watches. For example, if you decide to replace the standard steel mainspring of a stock movement with a silicon spring (a common modification to increase the magnetic resistance of the watch), this will completely throw off the timing of the original movement. Variance in the manufacture of individual components means the movement will require trial & error replacement of different gears and springs to retain the accuracy specification - when a watch beats 28,800 times per hour, getting it to +6/-4 seconds per day in five different positions (the COSC standard for a certified chronometer) requires a lot
of fiddling. Usually, the modification will be done by the movement manufacturer according to the client's specifications, but some of the higher-end brands will make the changes themselves (which blurs the distinction as to whose movement it actually is). I've toyed with (and broken) a few inexpensive Seiko 7S26 movements for practice, and I can tell you even the smallest changes on a cheap movement is no joke.
Luxury watches (broadly defined) almost always have in-house movements developed and manufactured by that particular watchmaker, and usually (though not always) to higher specifications than the highest grade ETA or Sellita movements. Rolex advertises its 'Superlative Chronometer' standard (+/- 2 second per day in 5 dial positions), which is genuinely exceptional for a mechanical movement. I'm actually not the biggest fan of Rolex watches, but I have enormous respect for the craftsmanship involved in their movements. The truly crazy expensive luxury watches typically have insane complications to them like a perpetual calendar. They are literally analog computers, finished to breathtaking degree.
Anyway, that was a long ramble, but the point is that there is a lot that goes into a watch beyond "It's gold so it must be valuable". I understand that a great many people who buy expensive watches think the exact same thing. I just want to make the point that a great many of us care a great deal about the ridiculous feats of engineering that goes into a watch (and that includes quartz - I am personally very interested in high-accuracy quartz watches from Citizen and Grand Seiko). The high end watches are a combination of mechanical brilliance and beautiful artwork which I find incredibly appealing. Yes, they are luxury goods with much more practical counterparts in the exact same way a Ford GTO is a worse car than a Fiesta
. I love them anyway, for mostly the exact same reasons. And I am perfectly comfortable saving money to buy what I want without damaging my financial future.