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November 18, 2013

Comments

jonnybardo

Its all relative, amigo. One man's crap is another man's treasure. I wore my Black Monster the other day while helping my wife move her office because it is, of my dozen or so rotation watches, the least valuable in a monetary sense, and thus the easiest to replace. A few years ago I would have balked at the idea of ever spending $200 on a watch.

A "beater" is a watch that you don't mind if it gets scuffed up beyond the usual and inevitable desk-diving scuffs.

As for the notion of "luxury," its tricky, because on one level anything above the purely functional is "luxury." But in terms of watch quality, I see a big jump that occurs around $500. That's where you have watches like the Seiko Sumo and Velatura, Orient Revolver, Citizen Signature, etc, that are a noticeably jump up from the bulk of the "affordable" range, from $150-300.

There's another jump just below a grand, about $800-2000 or so, which could be described as the "low-end luxury." This includes watches like Oris, some Tag Heuer, the Orient Saturation Diver, and many of the higher end micro-divers.

Then you have the mid-range luxury watches, from about $3-8K or so, from Omega to Breitling to Rolex, along with Grand Seiko. I'm not sure what you get or need beyond this, as the movement has pretty much maxed out, along with build quality.

Beyond this you have the $10K+ watches like Hublot and Patek Phillipe. The scary thing is that they just keep on going up, with the very most expensive watches costing millions of dollars. I'm not sure what you're getting except for very complex movements and expensive materials, and of course name.

Anyhow, I wouldn't call my Sumo a "beater." But the Sumo is an interesting watch because in some ways it is the gate-keeper for quality timepieces. It doesn't mean that there aren't nice watches below the Sumo, but that the Sumo marks the threshold between affordable watches, and higher quality or "luxury" watches.

herculodge

Indeed, my Sumo is no beater. I was thinking that if I ever got a Promaster BJ2135, which costs, not 500 but 380 or so, that it would be my beater but even that's not accurate. I'd rather wear a 90 dollar G Shock as a beater.

Angelo

The G-Shock makes a great beater because that's what it's truly built for.

Angelo

http://www.ebay.com/itm/Casio-G-Shock-Shock-Water-Resistant-Black-Digital-Watch-Resin-Band-DW9052-1B-/350873777530?pt=Wristwatches&hash=item51b1b4f57a

Comes with red imprinting too.

Gary

Jonny,

Is your Citizen Signature your only $500 and up watch that is quartz? I know most collectors prefer automatics, but Citizen seems to make some very well crafted quartz watches.

jonnybardo

Yeah, Gary, it is. I suppose overall I prefer automatics, but I have a special fondness for Citizen's Eco-Drives.

Gary

Here's the William Shatner Passages watch by Egard. It's certainly a unique looking design.

http://www.ablogtowatch.com/william-shatner-passages-watch-egard/

Keith Beesley

You can get a lot more radio (features, performance) for $500. than for $100. Is a thousand-dollar watch twice as good as a $500. watch? Maybe--quality of materials, hand-craftsmanship, durability, reliability. But anything over $1000. has got to be just conspicuous consumption. For now, I'm happy with my Casio World Time--it can display the time in 24 time zones (two at a time), has five alarms, chronograph, timer, water resistant. Not bad for $30.

jonnybardo

Keith, the most sophisticated automatic movement isn't as accurate as your $30 quartz watch. But that's not what upscale watches are about. As you say, its the quality of materials, craftsmanship, etc, as well as--in more expensive watches--the tradition that you're buying into.

I've posted that there's a law of diminishing returns with regards to value and quality, not unlike Zeno's arrow - where the increase in price is relative to an inverse in quality. In other words, the more you spend, the less you're "getting" for your money.

I see there being two general domains of watch value - the tangible and intangible. The former includes build quality, finish, aesthetic design* - things that you can perceive with your senses. On the other side is the name brand, the reputation, legacy, etc. In between the two is the movement; it is "intangible" in that you can't see it, but it is "tangible" in that it is physical (I suppose there is a third category, which would have to do with precious materials like diamonds and gold).

I feel that somewhere after $2-3,000, the intangible qualities take over. A $3K Omega Seamaster is about as fine a watch as you can buy in terms of tangible qualities. I personally feel that the $4K Seiko Marinemaster SBDB001 is the pinnacle of automatic watches; it has a Spring Drive movement, which is considered the best in the world, and is a work of immense beauty and craftsmanship (see note*).

The Swiss brands - like Rolex and Breitling and Hublot - are all somewhat artificially inflated in cost due to intangible characteristics. In the business world, a Rolex means you have arrived, you have "made it." The Hublot is what you wear when you're on vacation in the French Riviera. Whether or not these intangible qualities are "real" is beside the point - it is really subjective. In other words, do YOU care about what "Rolex" means? That's the value there.

*A brief note on design. Some would think that this has nothing to do with watch quality. But consider this: If you are Seiko and you have a host of watch designers, whether in-house or freelance, who do you pay the most to? And which designs become expensive watches and which cheaper watches? Why not put the case design of the SBDB001 on a $300 watch?

Its like art or music. The best musicians play in the big philharmonic orchestras. With art its a bit tricky, because the art that makes money isn't always the best art. With watch design--as with art--we enter the tricky territory of aesthetics. What is beautiful? What makes an iconic, classic design? Why is the Rolex Submariner the most copied watch in the world?

Its subjective to some degree, but so is the taste of wine. That said, there is also a real value to more expensive wines - and it has to do with subtlety and complexity and the way the parts combine into a whole that is, in finer and finer wines, always more than the sum of its parts.

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