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December 30, 2012



I'm a couple stages behind you. I started lower; when I first got seriously into watches in the Spring of 2011, I balked at spending over a $100, then $100-150 became the norm. Now $150 is the baseline - I rarely buy watches below that price, unless I find a great deal on Amazon or on the Invicta Sunday Run (although it has been a couple months). Now my range is $200-300, but there are a bunch of watches I want in the $300-500 range, and I occasionally look at semi-luxury watches ($500-1000) like your Benarus.

There are two aspects of this issue. One is what you focus on, which is the psychological. I'd even up the ante and say that the degree to which you (we) give into this treadmill is the degree to which we are psychological slaves to the consumer hegemony. It is sickening, Jeff. Every year I feel slightly nauseated as I see my girls get more and more entangled by it ("I want more presents").

Now I'm not a luddite, puritan, or anti-capitalism. But it is playing with fire and I know for myself that I want to be able to play in the sandbox without getting lost in it.

It is really no different than food. There is absolutely nothing wrong with eating cake and ice cream and all manner of "bad" foods (assuming you use organic, less-processed ingredients), but IN MODERATION. The problem is that it is so hard to moderate, and the consumer forces don't want you to moderate. They want you and I to continue our addiction to watch buying (and we are addicted, my friend).

We can apply this principle to anything. The easiest (but most harmful) way is to just indulge; the second easiest (and least interesting) is to avoid altogether; the hardest (but most rewarding) is moderation, the Middle Way (as Buddha put it).

The other aspect is simply practical or economic. How much can you afford? In the context of the above psychological element, there is nothing wrong with buying and enjoying watches, but it should stay within one's means.

My advice would be to set a firm cap on your spending and not even look at watches over that number, or at least have some will power when doing so. As I've said before, the problem isn't as much buying that one $870 watch, but what it leads to next - and you're obviously well aware of this. As soon as you buy it you'll start losing interest in most of your $200-400 watches, and the treadmill will just continue...

Now if you're really able to practice moderation, you could buy that Benarus if you're able to say "only one very expensive watch a year; the rest must be below $500" or whatever your number of relative affordability is. I'd like to get to the point where I can buy a $500 or even an $800 watch once a year or so, and still enjoy $200 watches. But that, to me, is the key: can you still enjoy $200-400 watches even after buying the Benarus?

In the end, though, you know that at some point you're going to buy a much more expensive watch - whether it is an $870 Benarus, a $1400 Tag Heuer, or a $4000 Breitling. Might as well start low! And then, again, try to keep it to one "very special" watch a year and re-calibrate yourself so you can still enjoy your more affordable watches.

(I apologize if I sound preachy - I'm talking more to myself than you, but just sharing my thought process)


One key point to remember is that if and when you buy that Benarus, if you start feeling that your $200 watches are crap, THIS IS A CHIMERA. They aren't crap; they're awesome watches, but your mind is just playing tricks on you and you're buying into a subtle and powerful tool that producers of luxury items employ.

I'm guessing that a Benarus really is a fine watch, and better made than your Seiko Black Monster or Velatura. But I'm pretty sure it isn't three or four times better.

Whenever I buy something like, say, new tires for my car, I always go for the middle priced option because I feel that there is usually a greater difference between the cheap version and the middle version, then between the middle and more expensive option.

This is a principle that we see in all kinds of systems and contexts - a diminishing gap, the higher order you guy - like Zeno's arrow: the distance between it and its target gets halved.

In a similar way that if you start playing an instrument, the most progress you'll ever make is in that first year. The second year might be half the progress, the third half that, etc.

This applies to tiers of watches, but it is even more extreme because there is almost an inverse relationship between dollar amount and quality in that the higher the amount paid, the less difference you're actually paying for. A $400 watch is not twice as nice or high quality as a $200 watch; it might be 50% better, but not 100%. This gets more and more extreme. When you get to $1000+, it becomes rather ridiculous (my guess is that the difference between a $1500 Tag Heuer and a $300 Seiko isn't that much, and perhaps almost nothing in terms of actual physical perception).

In other words, the difference of quality is largely an idea. It does have a physical correlate, but what you can perceive is minimal - the rest is actually hidden inside the watch (like hand shaped pieces).

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