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Top Reasons You Want A Nice (Expensive) Watch

Top Reasons You Want A Nice (Expensive) Watch ABTW Editors' Lists

The matter of wearing and enjoying fine timepieces is a passion that these days must be justified. It’s true, we as practical men and women succeed in life not via waste, but via efficiency. To adorn an item (be it timepiece or otherwise) that quite possibly defies those reasons we came to afford such an item in the first place is something worth discussing. Bottom line, if you want to wear a nice watch, do so with good health, and be able to explain why to others why they should to.

During the last year I found myself being frequently interviewed by other journalists and writers on the topic of watches and my job overall. Questions common to all of these sessions included an inquiry on “why to wear a luxury watch… what makes a luxury watch…. how can a man benefit from wearing a high-end timepiece?, etc…” The answer to all of these related questions is extremely non-obvious and I really had to give it some thought. To start, I revisited an article I previously wrote here on what it is like to wear a luxury watch.

Luxury brands toil with this question themselves and equally want you to think about it as well as be ignorant of it. On the one hand they never want someone to purchase something with full cognizance that they are either buying an emotionally related purchase that they don’t strictly need, or that it is priced much higher that it is worth as a commodity. At the same time, for you to buy such watches again and again, us consumers need to be in-touch with our inner “splurger” to savor the feelings we get from owning and wearing fine things.

So why do we want or need high-end watches? Thinking about this question made it clear to me that a response essay was due. I first want to comment on the culture of luxury – something you either live in or don’t understand. The culture of luxury (as I call it) is a collective appreciation and desire of finely made things from brands commonly recognizable for various adjectives including “expensive, successful good taste, classy, high-society, important, etc…” Cultures that value luxury also socially value these personal descriptors in a very real way. Not only that, but to be comfortable socially in some of these cultures you actually need to display these messages on your body (in some form or another) as much as possible. When thinking about cultures of luxury I think about parts of Europe, much of Asia, and a lot of the Middle East. So some of the reasons to wear nice watches relates to these people.

To Be Taken Seriously

As I began to discuss above, social etiquette often involves looking your best. People judge how smart, tasteful, attractive, and successful you are based on visual indicators. These visual indicators are extremely powerful, and more often than not, people come to conclusions about you before you even open your mouth. To be taken seriously, you must look serious.


I will spare you the 1950s style instructions on explaining how “Johnny” can look his very best before going over to “Jenny’s” parent’s house to pick her up to go to the dance. The end story is that if you want to impress Jenny and her parents, you need to dress up well, comb your hair, shine your shoes, stand up straight, and give her dad a firm handshake. While cheesy sounding, this is almost a total metaphor for how to be taken seriously in business and social situations.

Being serious is more than being acceptable. The finishing touch on any man are those individual items above and beyond tied shoelaces that help people come to conclusions about who you are. Most men dress rather generically, but if you are the type to have stand-out shoes and a clever scarf… and are still going to pick up “Jenny,” then she is a lucky gal. As for the rest of us, we don’t have many opportunities to signal success other than the watch on our wrist.

So wear a nice watch. Have something that shines in the light and glistens with the right mixture of metal and color. Make it seem like you saved up for it, or it is a cherished treasure you restored after your father gave it to you. Better if it is something unique and you spent some time finding just the right one versus stopping at the watch counter at your local department store and choosing a model you like from a European sounding brand whose name you can easily pronounce.

Having something like that on your wrist is a message to people dealing with you that you should be taken seriously. It can backfire of course if your watch exudes wasteful excess or bad taste, but in the end is better than showing up to a business meeting with a polyurethane sports watch with a green tinted LCD screen. I’ve been told more than once “in Europe a business man is not taken seriously if he is not wearing a mechanical watch.”

In the end, being taken seriously is a simple formula: being noticed + valuation of worth = degree serious perceived. The watch will help get you noticed, and the watch you are wearing will indicate the value of your worth. How’s that for a short response?

To Be Unique

Above I mentioned that to be taken seriously you need to be noticed with a nice watch. The question can then become “what watch?” Us men have precious few accessories we can wear to separate ourselves from each other. I take that back, us men have precious few generally well-viewed upon socially acceptable accessories we can wear to separate ourselves from each other. If you want to be one of those guys who wears a lot of jewelry, unique hats, and face tattoos… go right ahead.

What we have to differentiate ourselves is wrist real estate. A place where manly men and business men equally can wear something without causing additional questions to be asked. It is this space where we as individuals can communicate our taste, values, etc… This means that the watch we wear communicates a lot about who we are (or what mood we want to give off that day).

If you are a generic person you can wear a generic watch. If you are a unique person you can find a unique watch that fits your personality. You may not want to stick out all the time (which is why the world gave us Rolex Submariners), but when you do it starts with either what is on your wrist or your loud mouth. The watch world is full of limitless design – you want to take advantage of all the options.

For Your Hand Fetish

They say that eyes are a window to one’s soul. That may be true, but so are your hands. You may not have noticed it, but hands are extremely communicative when people talk. Either hands are part of elaborate Italian-style gesticulation, or they offer more subtle signs as to how someone is feeling. When communicating with others we almost always notice their hands. Think about it the next few times you are talking to someone. Close to the hands are the wrists, and one one of those wrists could be a watch.

As human beings we have hand fetishes. We use them, notice them, and touch them. We also like nice things touching our hands. A fine watch is pleasing on the skin. Well-made metal and other materials that are soft and secure feeling – giving you something interesting to run your fingers over from time to time. Perhaps that is why I play with my watch when fidgeting.

People looking at your hands will likely notice what is on your wrist. Give them something to enjoy that is worth all the attention.

Top Reasons You Want A Nice (Expensive) Watch ABTW Editors' Lists

As Eye Candy

Each time I visit an art museum I think to myself “how wonderful would it be to be surrounded by beautiful art in my home all the time” I also consider how expensive of a proposition that is. Like most people I love art, and little of it I can take with me where I go. A few years ago I started to realize that there was art sitting on my wrist.

The basic scheme of an analog watch is simple and consistent. The way of expressing it is where all the creativity comes in. Watch design is therefore inherently artistic. There is a lot of crap out there, but the best stuff is beautiful and how often do you call a tool beautiful?

Art on a watch can come in many forms. The dial can literally be a painting, or the design of the instrument itself is where the art comes in. For many people, the movement contains as much art as the case and dial. Art is the expressive elements placed over the necessary functional parts – so almost every watch has at least a bit.

For those like me who need a little art in their lives daily, you’ll have no problem finding many watches that move you just like a masterpiece in paint.

Top Reasons You Want A Nice (Expensive) Watch ABTW Editors' Lists

As Something To Remember You By

Not only is a timepiece the quintessential gift but it is the quintessential heirloom. While morbid in its tone, it is sometimes a good idea to consider life from beyond the grave. No matter what your philosophy is on the end of life, we can all agree that people can live on through the memories of those that knew them.

I own a few timepieces from people I knew that are now deceased. Having these watches makes me think of them. Not just in general way, but in a real and breathing way. They wore these watches for a long time. The watches show signs of use and love, and life. To be honest I wouldn’t care if these watches were $50 or $50,000 in value as long as they made me think of these people. The benefit however of passing down a nicer watch is that it is more likely to survive the test of time. You could also argue that it helps maintain a better image of you after you go, but that is up to the person leaving the watch.

A watch collection is also a legacy. It doesn’t necessarily have to be worth a mint, but leaving your watch(es) to someone you care about is an enduringly positive thought about passing on those values that were important to you, to someone else.

Enough Reason?

The funny thing about all this is that is on paper the justification for wearing and buying nice watches doesn’t compare to the real life obsession so many people have with watches. For me, that is really the funny part of all this. It is about measuring one value over another. We like nice expensive watches even though cheap watches exist to do the same thing. Educated watch lovers vastly prefer mechanical watch over quartz ones even though quartz pieces are more accurate and arguably more convenient.

A love of nice watches is emotional; a love of watches in general is practical (we like to easily tell the time). I believe that for me, the above reasons are the top ones why I lust for the finer watches in life. The psychology behind it is fascinating because of the pleasure it brings me (and others). The best thing you can do if you are also addicted to timepieces is simple, get your friends hooked as well.

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  • Eric

    “…us men have precious few generally well-viewed upon socially acceptable accessories we can wear to separate ourselves from each other.”

    This is exactly what my wife says and I am so happy to have married a woman who understand that a quality timepiece is a necessity for a gentleman. Now if I can only get her to agree to get me my JLC Master Compressor Geographique. Drool!

  • Tim

    My girlfriend didnt understand my obsession until she started to pay attention to the watches i was wearing. I think the craftsmanship and the design are very important aspects of a watch as both of these things are tangible and visible for all to see

  • PolitikeEpisteme

    I disagree with this article. You cannot measure a persons worth by their appearance at all. How many tools and losers have you met that dress the part but really have nothing at all? I live in southern California and there is an abundance of wealth here but it’s not displayed in the way you are inferring. For example, we have a very laid back surfer type culture. You could see a guy wearing shorts, no watch, flip flops, Arnette sunglasses, eating a burrito at the beach looking otherwise like a beach bum, but the guy could live in a 5 million dollar house around the corner. The closer you are to the coast here, the more expensive the houses. But, the closer you are to the coast here, the more relaxed the culture and the more you down dress, wear flip flops, surf all day, etc. People do not display wealth here in the traditional way you are referring to. They display wealth with cars and properties, not by what’s on their body. Of course, if you go to certain parts of LA maybe that’d be different but much of southern california beach life is saturated in wealth but also with a laid back culture. You can’t tell who is rich here by simply looking at what they’re wearing. A rich guy could look like a bum, a poor guy could look rich. You just can’t tell so maybe your article is pertinent in some cultures, in some parts of the world and country, but it’s too narrow of a mold to fit in southern california lifestyle. Another example, I go to UCSD and professors here make upwards of six figures but are really environmentally conscious, you often see them dressed down, riding bikes, riding the bus, etc.

    • I live in So Cal as well. This article is not supposed to include all people, from all cultures. I did not grow up in a watch culture. I had to discover it. Though I promise you, if many of these people down here in LA and SD were educated about nice watches they would be more into them.

      • PolitikeEpisteme

        You’re probably right, I’m sure they would. Do you agree with what I wrote about not being able to tell who’s rich and who’s poor by looking at how they’re dressed here in So Cal?

    • D.L.

      Not all of SoCal is beach culture. There’s a reason why Omega opened a boutique in Beverly Hills. People like to display their wealth as much as they like riding their expensive bikes along PCH.

    • Alex

      This line of thought is flawed because the article isn’t discussing what to wear down at the beach. Take any of these ‘beach bums’ with a five Million dollar house, and invite them to a NICE restaurant, or dinner party. They won’t show up in board shorts and flip-flops.

  • miki

    Luxury brands use these reasons, then nice watch must be expensive (see for example exception Christopher Ward’s Watches)

  • Good stuff, Ariel!

    To me, wearing a watch is more about how *I* feel when I see my own wrist, than it is about other people’s perception (in fact, nobody ever notices my watch, which I consider a good thing). And only with a nice watch can you look at your wrist every day for years, and still get a great feeling about how the watch looks and ticks. That alone makes it worth the investment IMO.

  • You may not want to stick out all the time (which is why the world gave us Rolex Submariners)

    Yeah, nothing says “I’m an extremely common guy” quite like a Rolex Submariner.

    • PolitikeEpisteme

      There’s nothing common about owning a rolex. Common is eating taco bell and renting a room with a high school education. That’s common.

      • Ulysses

        I think what he means is that the Rolex brand is to watches what Coke is to soft drinks. It’s instantly recognisable; even the most ignorant demographic knows what a Rolex is or has heard of it. Your typical nouveau riche who probably has more money than sense and very little knowledge about the world of luxury watches will rush out and buy a Rolex to impress his friends, as will the foul-mouthed rap-artist or the thuggish, dim-witted footballer who has to hire guys just to count all the money his club throws at him. It’s a mass-produced watch with a timid design that has no particular stand-out features, aside perhaps from the use of a higher-grade steel. I wouldn’t personally want one because i’d be associated with all those unsavoury casual watch wearers who know and care very little for the world of precision time-pieces. That, and i’ve never seen a model I actually liked the look of. Now, a vintage Rolex would probably appeal to me more but the current models sell only because of their brand recognition, and for me that just isn’t enough.

      • I should start annotating my comments with ‘/sarcasm>’.

        Anyway, I understand what the article is saying, it just sounded funny.

    • bachmann

      graeat article Ariel. your point about the submariner is very true.
      if a watch factory produces over one million watches per year it
      is a massproduced item which would be the opposite of an exclusive
      product no matter how you look at it. a submariner is a mainstream
      product. it is extremely common and not exciting at all. period. like a Ford Mustang-
      it has a history and design elements that made it iconic,true, but it is not
      unique and most definately not exclusive. like comparing taco bell with real mexican food if you see what I mean 🙂 keep up the good work.

  • John_A

    I think people have a need to come up with justifications for objectively indefensible purchases. In the US there is no need to wear a wristwatch at all even for a corporate executive, prominent attorney, etc. Even if there was, superb vintage watches are available on eBay for well under $1,000.

    Hardcore watch enthusiasts are generally motivated by their fascination with mechanical timepieces. But the market is driven by image-conscious consumerism… most luxury watches are purchased for the same reason a Prada purse is. People can spend their money however they want, but I think it’s incorrect to suggest that there are legitimate reasons for them to be doing it.

    • PolitikeEpisteme

      I agree with this for the most part but define “legitimate reason.” A legitimate reason is entirely subjective which is the point I think. Whoever buys these watches I’m sure see’s it as a ‘legitimate’ purchase for ‘legitimate reasons.’

      • John_A

        By ‘legitimate’, I mean that the buyer would get some kind of real return on his investment- e.g., “be taken seriously.” If a few thousand dollars can advance someone’s career and social life, then actually it isn’t expensive at all- rather, it would be quite a bargain.

        I just think people should be realistic about their motivations. There are plenty of watches I’d love to have, but I know I don’t need them and shouldn’t buy them unless I have more money then I know what to do with.

    • D.L.

      Your reply seems to reinforce the dismissive attitude toward the luxury market that many Americans have. I would agree with the article that status plays a much bigger role outside the U.S., and people will judge you more by what you wear in Europe than they will in the U.S.

  • andrew

    WWWJW… ?

    What watch would Jesus wear? Prolly a timex.

    Anyone who follows this blog has a respect for watches for their own reasons – unlike tools that wear an expensive watch to compensate for physical or personal inadequacies.

    I have an interest in watches because I am a mechanical engineer and am in awe of the art that 98% of makers claim to be a part of. Out of the hordes of marketing companies are some firms to be respected simply because they dont try to buy respect… but chances are the average guy sporting a new rolex is trying to buy your respect.

    Rolex wearers are guilty until proven innocent… in which case i am jealous that i cant afford one 😉

  • pat I.

    I live near Philly and NYC. I travel. Save for my doctor, I have never seen anyone wear a watch that wasn’t a Rolex, Omega or Breitling.

    As much as I love fine watches, by and large I can’t stand most of the people who wear them. People stick the these brands because of “me-too-ism”. It’s the price of admission into their club. It’s funny how the cabbage-faced guido sucking down whiskey sours with his artisanal pizza at the latest hotspot loves to flash his 10K Rolex (with the wrong date and month on it) but can’t tell me a thing about it.

    But go beyond these brands and people just shrug because their perception is that Rolex, Breitling and Omega says, I MADE IT BABY! LOOK AT ME! IN TWO YEARS I’M GONNA DUMP MY WIFE GET A 19 YEAR OLD GIRLFRIEND A A YELLOW ‘VETTE. I HAVE SO MUCH CLASS I FART THROUH SILK. Wear a JLC or a Kobold and they’ll view you as a lower class citizen simply because they – are Rolexes. Same goes for vintage watches. they’re not shiny and bling-y, and they don’t have the knowledge and do not have any interest in learning about fine watches. Watches are merely a billboard for their affluence. and this annoys the bejsus out of me because regardless of your interest when you are an a-hole and a boor when you buy a timepiece exceeding the price of a compact car and don’t even bother to learn how to set the date on it. I hate to use the word “stewardship” but that’s sort of how I view it.

    These are the brain dead yard monkeys I have deal with on a day to day basis. As Yoda may have said, “seekers of knowledge they are not”.

    I think some of you may have read my review of the Bathys watch I won early this year. Although it did not come close to Mr. Adams prose in terms of humor and journalistic quality, I made a point to learn everything about the watch – from the materials, how to set the bezel, movement. etc.

    In closing…As hilarious and completely surreal the father/son Patek Phillipe ads can be I think they make a point. Kids learn value from their parents. A child will learn to care for things something regardless of their value if someone pulls back the curtain and shows them more than just a price tag. Also – watching mommy wearing her Cartier watch while having her hands in greasy dishwater or daddy throwing his Breitling on his dresser from six feet away at the end of the day, sends a message a strong message.

    Finally, I’ve interviewed prospective employees for some of the companies I worked for. I don’t care what kind of watch their wearing (unless it’s say – a Mickey Mouse watch). What I look for is proper dress, tattoos covered up, no piercings (both sexes) , “shower curtains” (8 earring in a ear…women), and qualifications. My feeling is if you’re incapable of figuring out how to dress for an interview then how can i trust you to make important day to day decisions at work?

    I admit… this isn’t my best post. Sorry for the rant.

  • Kennie

    “Hardcore watch enthusiasts are generally motivated by their fascination with mechanical timepieces”

    This is right on the money. My fascination with mechanics is why I like watches that exhibit a high degree of mechanical sophistication, but personal style and preference also play a role.

    From a utilitarian point of view, a $100 Timex can tell time just as well as a $15k Hublot.

    A legitimate reason to buy a luxury item that doesn’t perform better than a cheaper option is because of how it makes YOU feel. That’s the only reason one needs. I own a Royal Oak because I like it. Sure, to some people, they may be perceived and taken more seriously when wearing one.

    If you choose to use that to your advantage, then by all means go ahead. It would be foolish not to use every tool you have at your disposal to advance your personal agenda. It’s not just watches, every man should always try to look his best. We are visual creatures. You’re doing yourself a disservice by not acknowledging that fact of life.

    Every guy should have at least one nice watch, one nice suit, and one nice pair of shoes…

    • Good points, and I agree…all men should have at least one nice thing in each area of their life.

      • simon

        Now that statement should be inshinded in law

  • Will P

    So here’s my dilemma. I admire the craftsmanship and design that goes into the watch as a piece of jewelry. I understand and appreciate that others admire the mechanical craftsmanship involved in a mechanical watch. Five years ago, I purchased my first automatic watch. I loved the gadgetry and the sweeping second hand. But it has been very disappointing in terms of reliability. Several attempts to fix it have been only partially successful.

    So now I am looking for a new watch, and have decided to go quartz. (I know, but I can live with your scorn.) While my enthusiasm for the mechanical gadgetry of watches have taken a hit, I would still like a watch that reflects a certain level of taste and sophistication, for some of the reasons discussed in the article. I have been disappointed with the options out there. I am looking for something that can be worn with a suit or jeans.Omegas, in my opinion, reflect more money than taste. Breitling is way too blingy.

    Does anyone have recommendations for a somewhat unique, stylish quartz watch?

    • SM

      If you want a unique quartz watch, check out two brands: Nixon and Breil. I own a few of each and always get complements when I wear them.

      Good luck on your search!

      Hopefully you will be back for mechanical pieces soon – nothing like feeling the rotor spin when you move your hand or seeing a sweeping seconds hand. 🙂

  • I love the term ‘wrist real estate’ (i wish i coined that phrase myself!)
    Excellent article btw Ariel, very well written and obviously a lot of thought went into it.

    A watch is a way to demonstrate coolness because by very definition it is SUBTLE, it’s a means of expressing yourself without shouting about it or coming across ‘try hard’.

  • john steppling

    Interesting article. But I actually think none of these reasons are exactly *the* reason one wears an expensive watch. I actually think (and excuse this sounding a bit pretentious) it has more to do with a primary desire. What lacan called the lost object of desire. We attach almost totemic or talismanic properties to jewelry. And expensive watches are in the end jewelry. I asked myself once why I lusted so after a Breguet markXX. I scanned ebay searching for one at a price I could afford. It happened again later with a Ulysse Nardin. Point is, these items (rings, necklaces etc) have deep connections to unconscious desire. They are substitutes. There is no rational reason to want them. Yes, they have status value. And that is certainly part of it. But the bigger reason, its deeper and more mysterious. A Rolex is the great conundrum in the watch world. I love them….in a way. But i see submariners so often that I would never wear one. Not to mention they really dont compare quality wise with a UN or a IWC or a Breguet etc. Still, they have developed an aura. A sort of almost magic quality. The very name evokes all that is desired in the world of possessions. And in a sense that reinforces what Im getting at. Watches dont really *mean* anything. They arent symbols except for status, I guess. They cant really be interpreted. Im sounding like a Derrida post graduate student or something, but a beautiful watch has a deep but illusive attraction. We can put it on, and take it off…..and then in a repetition of discovery, we put it on again. I love each morning looking at the watch i want to wear that day, and putting it on. Why? Its because somewhere in our Id we are reminding ourselves of *desire* itself. Anyway, it may sound –as i said — pretentious. But no other reason quite grasps the enigma.

    • Thanks for the comment John. Personally I don’t believe in enigma’s without reason.. only complex reasons. Desire is not a concept that exists without a personality that desires. Those are reasons for me.. and perhaps those that think like me. For you, it might be something else, you’ll figure it out.

  • john steppling

    Its always personal I think. Just to be clear. But we desire because of mysterious reasons…..thats all. And I think thats always been the source of “objects” that fascinate or have a pull on us. I dont think its because we like mechanical contraptions. There are lots of those out there. Maybe some people do……just want to watch mechanics. But I think clearly watch-junkies are pulled toward what they want for reasons they often have no idea about. But those reasons, even if not always conscious, are connected to sort of primal sources of desire. Anyway, thanks for listening.

  • Ziad

    So easy for all of you to trash Rolex, but for anyone in the business (in Switzerland anyhow) it’s common knowledge that the main fact about the phenomenon of Rolex is that they have cutting edge R&D, and always deliver amazing quality in great quantities (it’s about 700’000 watches and not a million, and yes there is a difference). I’ve owned a Rolex for 20 years, it’s working really well and yet I have never serviced it. I’ve also owned a Breitling and an Omega for a little longer and they’ve been a nightmare to maintain.
    Just cause every tom dick and harry own Rolex watches doesn’t make them any less reliable or beautiful.

    • I don’t think anyone is trashing Rolex at all. I think we are trying to place them in the market accordingly. Rolex makes exceptionally well made timepieces and no one is disagreeing with that.

  • john steppling

    I dont hear the trashing of Rolex. I love them. If you gave me a nice new GMT for my birthday, Id be thrilled. 🙂 However, while I think they are very well made, and durable, for sure, they dont quite compare to a UN or Breguet I dont think. It depends what you want. But compare a sub, including bracelet, with a maxi marine fron Ulysse Nardin. Hold them in your hand. Look closely. Id say you are getting more workmanship, and probably a better movement, with the UN. Honestly, the price for the new 39mm Explorer is absurd, give what you get. Again, I like them, they are good watches. But they are also the default setting for people with a lot of money who maybe dont even know a Blancpain exists, or IWC or Breguet. And for the record, I have an IWC, had since I was twenty…….a L O N G time ago. So lots of good high level watches last twenty years. They should!

  • I’m a coder

    I’ve been researching this odd fetish of sorts, the fetish of expensive watches. While I respect the fact that another man is entitled to his own little quirks I never was able to understand why would a person spend ludicrous amounts of money on a watch.

    It’s not that I don’t appreciate watches. I do, a watch is an indispensable tool. Whenever my mobile goes dead I always have a way to tell the time. I often used my watch as a makeshift (if only roughly accurate) compass, a trick I was surprised to see very few watch affectionados are even aware of. I value build quality and durability, having used my watch as a melee weapon to satisfying effect. A watch is an indispensable tool, I understand the necessity and convenience of having one.

    And here I am, reading and rereading all those articles about expensive watches with no clue as to why would anyone spend 50k on a device that does little more than tell time. Are the capabilities of that tool proportional to the price? Definitely not. Is the durability of it? No. Maybe it’s about purely subjective esthetic values? I never had a keen eye for detail but I couldn’t tell a good patek replica from the original. Perhaps to the true connoisseur the minor sub-millimeter variations are indeed worth the hundredfold increase in price – but that would be as absurd as someone willing to pay double for his car just to get that imperceptibly lighter shade of grey paint.

    Every sane consumer buys products that he/she believes is worth it’s price. Simply put, the product has enough bang for the buck. How does this fit in with expensive watches? Where does the bang come from?

    It isn’t the usability, it isn’t the durability – esthetic reasons can be ruled out since replicas are virtually indistinguishable and just as stylish. An expensive gold watch can serve as an emergency barter item in case regular currency loses it’s value – but that’s a minor reason at best. Expressing one’s individuality could be an answer but custom made or modded watches are rare – and a replica of a standard watch does the same thing, only in a more economically rational way.

    As noted, love of watches isn’t practical but emotional – therefore what emotional needs does buying such a watch satisfy?

    I guess I have to quote the line “culture of luxury – something you either live in or don’t understand.”

    • High-end watches are about details, perfection, finishing and beauty. You need to be really experienced with a lot of watches to fully understand the passion and appreciate. For those looking for utilitarian pieces of all styles have tons of options at many price points.

      • I’m a coder

        Perfection in design or perfection in manufacturing? The former is subjective while as to the latter current industrial processes ensure that production tolerances are below what an unassisted human eye can notice.

        The only real thing that can justify the exorbitant price of some watches is the amount of rare-earth metals. Even all of the R&D of Rolex or absurdly complex complications of patek’s watches don’t reasonably justify the price.

        Those are Veblen goods at their best – another irrational facet of human behaviour. Humans have a tendency to rationalize even the most irrational of decisions – such as buying lottery tickets. I appreciate your effort at trying to explain why people need an expensive watch but as any attempt to rationalize an emotional decision it can’t really be done – not unlike trying to assert the validity of a religious system by logic.

        As for me I’ll stick to my traser and a knock-off for when I need to absolutely need to hide the fact that I’m an engineer, not a businessman.


  • C Y

    Just buy what you want and wear what you like. It’s absolutely unnecessary to comment on what others think. A man’s meat is another’s poison.

  • Moglev Putch

    For myself the cost associated with the piece is inconsequential. When I view watch designs it is an experience
    much like visiting a gallery of paintings. There is, however, an added dimension to timepieces and this is the history of the design – the history of the individual watch itself and it’s wearer – but most of all it’s beauty.
    There is something cativating in the face of most watches and this has nothing to do with it’s cost. It may be a quirk,like auto’s or fighter planes from WWII – but it is a more passive technology than these. It is also reflective in that seeing the seconds of a timepiece advance you are reminded that this is the time of your life. Sorry for that last bit but it does have a way of grounding you. 

  • Michael Pohoreski

    TL:DR; In other news Hipsters continue to make excuses for having more money then brains.Pro-Tip: Pretending the exterior physical has more value then intrinsic character is called being … Fake.

  • Hamhock

    Michael Pohoreski  

    First of all, I am not a hipster.

    I am a Law Professor who prepped at Trinity, undergrad in Boston, and Law School at UVA. After 4 years of white shoe law, I came back to my childhood home in Connecticut, to be a torts professor. I am definitely not a hipster.

    I wear a Patek Philippe Calatrava to black tie, my grandfathers 1961 Omega Seamaster on shark mesh with a suit, and a Timex Weekender with grosgrain strap, just like my summer neighbor HW Bush does. 

    I understand that a quality watch is like the Alfa that I drive, the Allen Edmund – Park Avenue shoes that I wear, or the nantucket red pants that I wear on the weekend–it is a signaling device. These things signal to others that not only do I come from old money, but because of the age of those things, as well as that my whole life is composed of higher tier things, I signal that I belong.

    I belong to the privileged and gated rural suburb, I belong to the yacht club and also to the country club, I go to the nice Episcopal church, my children attend the top schools and will soon go prep at a top 10.  

    You see Mr. Pohoreski, we wear and live this way to signal to each other who we are. By you not getting it, you show who you are as well.

    • joseph stalin

      i know i’m reading this 3 years after you posted it but holy shit! Can’t wait for people like you to be rotting in gulags!

  • Hamhock


    So lets see, how about finish the following sentence:

    Omega went to the moon, Rolex went to _______.

    Incorrect answers are: Mr. Everest, The North Pole, anywhere cool/ Correct answers: Jersey Shore, Senior citizens home, set of a rap video “popping bottles.”

  • Hamhock

    @pat I.  

    Since you dont like the usual suspects, why not go French?

    You can get a pretty awesome Yonger & Bresson for nothing these days or you can spend a fortune and get an in-house movement from them (even a tourbillion) or get the basically bullet-proof Sea Gull 1612 movement if you want one of the best values in modern watch making. 

    If you want some of the best  vintage values around there is Y&B, pre Seiko purchased YEMA, and LIP pre 1977. You can even find some nice used BRM’s for less than $1,200 right now, wait a couple more years and I doubt any can be found under $2,500. Not bad for a watch that even enthusiasts have a hard time keeping the $5k watches straight from the $40k.

    I agree that the usual suspects are boring and make a person into a drone. Vive la France!

  • Michael Pohoreski

    Hamhock Michael Pohoreski  Only hipsters try to impress others with what they own, instead of being humble and having value of character.  Then again maybe your parents loved you for only what you had instead of who you were.

  • Anonymous11783

    mharis678 Replica watches are easily recognized by discriminating people and you appear to be a douchebag trying to look like someone with class.

  • Anonymous11783

    Michael Pohoreski Hamhock Michael, you’re clearly one of life’s jealous losers.  Move on now that you have clearly exposed yourself as such.

  • Anonymous11783

    @C Y You sound like someone who fails to wash their hands when leaving the restroom.

  • Michael Pohoreski

    @Anonymous11783 Only a coward hides behind a pseudo name making accusations without any evidence. Someday when you mature you’ll realize that ad hominem attacks only makes you look like a complete and total idiot.  Then again I shouldn’t expect much from someone who pretends physical things have more value then what really matters: Real relationships.
    Only a loser feels the need to brag or try to impress others with what they own.
    When you die you won’t be remembered for how many toys you had but how you treated (or mistreated) others.  But I guess it is easier to make excuses for myopic dick waving and pseudo bragging rights about things one owns instead of seeing true wealth: 
    Wealth of character.
    When you learn it is not about about what you got, but what you _gave_, then you’ll _begin_ to understand your most precious commodity is your compassion and love for others, not some inanimate object that no one really gives a frack about at the end of the day.
    Go in peace since you are blinded by materialism.

  • Anonymous11783

    Clearly my message was spot on based on the now deleted apoplectic response from “Mikey”

  • Anonymous11783

    Michael Pohoreski Obviously the arrow found the target based on your apoplectic response.  Those of low character are so easy to rile, they reveal their low station in life quite easily.

  • ericthebatcatcher

    Hamhock My closest friend, a mountaineer, and carpenter by trade, is still wearing the Rolex given out to team members on a K2 expedition about 15 years ago. He wore it like a prize, when pounding nails and cutting trim, and it is probably still on his wrist, somewhere behind Mt. Everest, in the glacier he has been entombed in for the past dozen years.
    He and all his friends got a huge kick out of him keeping a watch he might have pawned to support several small hard-core trips (the kind he embraced passionately). I think he loved the dichotomy, paradox, and also the essential craftsmanship underlying the glitz, in a way like the craft skills he employed in creating homes he could not afford to own.
    So let the entitled, insecure silver spooners tell us how hard it is to learn the nuances necessary to properly ‘dis the plebian’s purchases and tastes, to properly ‘signal’ each other across the foie gras. I just know my friend appreciated working with solid well-crafted tools.

  • ericthebatcatcher

    I have two new reasons to favor a Rolex, versus other brands: 1) most will just assume it’s a cheap copy, and forget about it, thieves included; 2) they still appear to actually work, reliably, and have a wide network of repair shops capable of servicing respectfully.
    As the Wittnauer chronograph, my 1968 H.S. graduation gift, sits in a drawer, waiting for rehab that would far exceed its collectible value (500-1500max), I can’t help but notice how tiny it looks, even were the rotating bezel to be replaced – only about 39mm across. I think the gaudy gold Raulecks on the wrist of a 20-year-old player speaks a far different language than a boring old Submariner on a 65 year-old wrist, which is just making a wry comment, like, “Seen it all, now, this is just good….enough.”

  • obijohnkenobe

    What is a legitimate reason? In a free country, any reason that doesn’t cause harm to others is by definition legitimate. 

    The one commonality with all of the comments that challenge the propriety of buying and owning an expensive watch is envy disguised as virtue. What gives anyone the right to tell me what is legitimate?

    Why would you, or anyone,  care what watch anyone else owns?

    BTW, although I can afford any readily-available watch, I stick with my father’s early 1950s Rolex, my mid-80s Seiko quartz diver’s, or my new Japan-market Casio G-Shock. And my fly reels and fine classic sporting firearms and M42 lens for my modern digital cameras. Because it’s my money and I don’t care if anyone approves.

  • BostonRob

    Readers clearly garner some fiercely emotional thoughts on this subject.

    From someone who’s been printed not quite a thousand times, I thought it was quite a well written piece.

    A shame to see the trolls got to it.

    Now if only I could decide between a GMT Master or a JLC Master…


    Anonymous11783 Trolling on a three year old message *raises glass*.

  • gobbledegook78

    To Hamhock the pompous windbag,

    Episcopalian, eh? So you believe that hell exists, but you also obviously believe that this doesn’t apply to you: 

    “Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God. ”

    And this:

    “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”

    Burn baby burn.

  • McBobby

    Idaughthr3 = spam

  • McBobby

    Idaugthr3 = clickbank spam

  • ldaugthr3

    McBobby Why do you make ignorant comments that you can’t substantiate? I don’t own or post any “clickbank” links here or anywhere else.

  • I would like to buy nice expensive watches because it long lasts and also look rich.

  • samuel132

    All these times, I thought the watch was all about telling the time only. I totally AGREE with your first point. With my Sinobi watch, I prioritize my time and I always be punctual at my classes and meetings. I always go there before time and get prepared. Also having a watch gives you patience. Once again, thank you for your points about wearing a watch.

  • RedAtticus

    Excellent Article!

    For me, the “Something to remember you by” is the most important one, because the other points put more focus on how other people think about me, so an external locus of identity….Bah! Who cares…

    However, more than any other “external locus of identitiy” or any other luxury item, any other item I would say in this fickle consumerist world we live in, a good mechanical watch lasts the longest and gives the highest amortized usage value/month as a man-jewellery/tool/art etc over decades and decades.

    Our 1000 dollar iPhones, nor the “look at me” BMW, nor your fashion clothes etc will outlast that fine timepiece…..

    You look at your timepiece when youre old and rusty, and you can instantly remember the day you fell in love, or the day your daughter was born…or that trip to San Remo…..You wont even need a Photo album for this…

    The watch is YOUR LIFE STORY…and so its an amazing thing to cherish and own..


  • SppSpp
  • Austin Miax

    I think having a classy watch speaks volume about your personality. Check this new baby on offer…

  • Michael Schumer

    Please, I wear an $8000 JLC watch to work and no one knows what it is. It might as well be a Timex. I wear it for me and me only.

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