Psychologist Paul Bloom suggests that we are “essentialists,” our response to things is not based solely upon the quantifiable, but also heavily weighted in our beliefs of “what they really are.” In his excellent TED talk, Bloom explains that while we like things for their utility, the history of a product can factor for a massive increase in its value. With watches, and a great many other things, that lends legitimacy to the product, a sort of legitimacy that extends beyond the physical attributes of the item. If your history is rooted in making hand bags, shoes, jewelry, underwear, and sunglasses, your watches won’t seem as legitimate as those coming from a brand whose history is in watch making.


Like I said above, while I have experienced excellent watches from fashion brands, I cannot disconnect the product from the image of the brand. When you buy a product, you buy the brand as well, and products don’t exist outside of the baggage of their brand – just look at the Corvette. I’d wear an Armani suit, but I don’t want an Armani watch. Where the suit feels legitimate, the watch is a totem, a trinket to represent the cache of the brand. It’s not limited to fashion houses either, consider Filson, I love their bags but have no interest in their watches.

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I agree that it’s best to be open minded, especially when learning about products, but in the end we’ll buy what we like via an emotional decision that is more than the simple sum of the product and the economics of its price. The math is different for everyone, but whether from a fashion house or a watch brand, it’s possible for an otherwise good watch to be spoiled by the brand on the dial.


Ariel Adams: I don’t disagree with you about the assumptions you posit about the psychology of brand desire and how marketing plays a major role in the watches that we want to wear. Ironically, most people attempt to discredit the products by fashion houses such as Chanel, Bulgari, Louis Vuitton, and others strictly because of their large amounts of marketing, and in this instance you point to their failure to market properly to men. I don’t disagree. What you also seem to be suggesting is that the traditional watch makers in this regard have been more successful in marketing – which is a sort of irony as well because part of their purported value proposition is in actual historical legitimacy versus pure marketing.


What we can both agree on is that marketing plays a huge role when it comes to the “legitimacy” of a product and also who that legitimacy is aimed toward. Legitimate watches seem to be more in demand, and so the failure of fashion houses when it comes to marketing their watches is just one of producing and aiming the right message. The products themselves seem to satisfy watch lovers when it comes to both design and technical merits, at least enough of the time. Further, I don’t disagree that they often fail to market themselves properly to male customers. I prefer to sidestep the role of marketing when possible and focus on product itself, which is more than satisfactory much of the time when it comes to the best watches produced by fashion houses.

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Yet one more irony that is related to marketing and fashion house watches is the appeal these men’s watches have with women. By wearing a watch from a fashion house brand that successfully markets themselves to women, men will benefit because of the awareness and prestige. While many women could care less about watches produced by many traditional watch makers, a fine timepiece from a brand she knows and perhaps wants will benefit the image of the male wearer. I think most guys agree that they would like their watch to come across sexy to women, so by virtue of the successes and failures in terms of marketing that these fashion houses have, there seems to be a net benefit when it comes to sex appeal with women – and that alone will be persuasive for enough men if framed in that manner.

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