Evandro Menezes from Austin, TX, USA asks:
For many years, since I was a teenager, when strolling at malls, I've always make a point of stopping by the watches section of jewelries in order to admire fine timepieces. Over time, I've come to know the characteristic style of a handful of brands and track some fads as they came and went. All along, I just considered myself a watch aficionado much like car aficionados, who admire certain cars from afar, either because they cannot afford them or have other priorities, but never really meaning to buy the objects of their affection.
However, in the last few months, I've found myself particularly fond of some watches but, whatever it means, they all seem to cost each a few thousands of dollars. My question is of a personal matter, but which I believe that many watch admirers struggled with too. How to go about putting so many hard-earned dollars in an expensive timepiece? What then after the first timepiece, the second and the third ones?
Thank you kindly.
Socioeconomic inequality is one of the most frustrating things in existence. The advent of television made more people than ever aware of what they didn't have and couldn't afford, as well as showing these things to those who could afford them. It just got worse with the Internet. In the 1990s, when mechanical watches became luxury items, more than ever the ability for the "average Joe" to afford the same watch as the decade earlier, changed. Timepieces became status items more then necessary tools and the value-to-price ratio changed in what many argue was the "wrong direction."
Not all of that is pure greed on behalf of those making watches. A major reason why so many watches are so expensive is that watchmakers, for the most part, do not have the benefit of an economy of scale. Lower production numbers means that they need to make more money off each unit sold. Casio would charge many more times what they do if they only made a few thousand watches per year. So, this might explain why timepieces are so expensive, but how do normal people go about affording what is a very democratic and non-classicist watch addiction?
What some people do, is invest in one timepiece and then sell it when they are "done," then take that money and buy something else. Sure money is lost as you go, and you need to keep pumping money into the hobby, but it allows people to enjoy a watch for a while, and then flip for something else. Other people have a "watch fund," where they pool money from a specific source that is only used for watches. They only spend from that fund so their watch love doesn't end up taking from more necessary expenses.
Of course, it is wise to get a good price as well. Savvy watch lovers quickly learn online about some of the smaller brands that offer pretty good values, and even more people purchase second-hand watches that are pretty easy to find on eBay, and other sites such as Chrono24 (along with sales corners on popular watch forums).
Other people remain voyeurs for much of their life because many of the greatest watches aren't designed to be affordable for anyone who needs to ask the price. Reading sites like aBlogtoWatch can keep you frustratingly informed of many great timepieces that are out of your hands, but it also keeps your interest alive for when we cover a piece that is more affordable - it may be what you need to get a fix. When it comes down to it, there are good watches for most any budget, and there are always going to be timepieces out of your reach (my reach, sigh). Some consolation? Even the most wealthy watch lovers have one-of-a-kind or historic timepieces that they lust for which aren't available anywhere, for any price.
[UPDATE: We published a full article on this topic 7 Ways To Survive As A Watch Lover On A Budget - February 8, 2015]