Why Luxury watches have a big price tag on them?

Luxury watches depend on what you value and what you can afford. To be clear any decent quartz watch keeps time better than the most expensive watches. If you simply value accuracy these watches aren’t worth it.

What do luxury watches offer?

  • Uniqueness – Very few people can afford these watches and to own one is to make a personal statement that few can. And because these pieces are rare, even among the elite who can afford them not everyone is wearing the same watch.
  • Craftsmanship – Mechanical watches aren’t as accurate as quartz. But you can still marvel at the design, engineering, and attention to detail required to come so close.
  • Ingenuity – Not all expensive watches have complications and not all complications are, well, equally complicated. But you have to respect the work required to create a mechanical device that tracks days, dates, tides, moon phases, etc.
  • Design – An Apple Watch might be infinitely more powerful than a proper Swiss watch but visually there is no comparison.
  • Longevity/collectability – Each year Apple’s Watch becomes less valuable as the new one eclipses its power. A $20 Timex, except by accident, will never be worth $20 again. But a watch by the “Holy Trinity” will always be collectible. (Tracking collectibility and appreciation become their own project.)

With that introduction Let’s get on with our list.

1. Patek Philippe

Let me spin you a tale, would you?

Once there was a King. His name was Vacheron Constantin. He was just and right, and he was the founding father of all things of horology. His reign began in 1755, the year of its founding by the first of his Seneschals, Jean Marc Vacheron. The company in 1770 created the first complication ever in a watch, and in 1819, the company welcomed Francois Constantin into its structure. In the same year, its most famous motto: “Do better if possible and that is always possible,” which first appeared in Constantin’s letter to Jacques-Barthélémy. The letter was dated 5 July 1819. Vacheron Constantin, with its signature “croix pattée”, is known as “The Old King”.

Then there is another important character. His name was Audemars Piguet. In 1875, Jules Louis Audemars formed a partnership with Edward Auguste Piguet. Both were watchmakers, specialized in creating movements for other manufactures to use. Their technical nature made them develop extremely complex watches, which were so beautiful and perfect that in the 1889 World Expo in Paris they won a special medal for their “Grande Complication” watch. They are the ones inventing the wristwatch, presented in 1892, sporting a minute repeater. Always in advance of its time, young and stalwart, Audemars Piguet is known, in watchspeak, as “The Prince”.

And then there’s “The King”. As you can suspect, we are talking of Patek Philippe. Founded in 1839 by a Pole, Antoni Patek with another partner, it was joined by the French Adrien Philippe in 1845, the inventor of the keyless winding mechanism. The company assumed its present name in 1851. Its clients have always been the kings and the nobility worldwide, and its technical skill and superb quality are second to none.

The company created in 1989 the most complicated movement ever made on Earth, the Cal. 89, which has 39 different complications, and is composed of 1,728 unique parts. “The King” makes watches for Kings (between them Queen Victoria and Prince Albert) and they are truly worth a King’s ransom: the Henry Graves Supercomplication (you can see it on top), made in 1933 for a prominent American banker, was auctioned by Sotheby’s in 2014 for a cool 24 Million USDs.

With stats like these, do you really keep wondering why Patek Philippe watches are so costly? For the same reason because a Rolls Royce is costly. Because its workforce of 2.000 people manufactures 50.000 watches per year, while Rolex with a similar workforce manufactures around 1.000.000. This is the main reason why. Sheer exclusivity. Small production, mostly handmade. If you know the fashion industry, this is not Pret A Porter: it is Haute Couture – in watch form.

You are bound to expect the top quality, the top materials, the finest workmanship when you buy a Patek, because it is like you are going to Chanel and buying a dress for a soirée à l’Opera – and you receive it in buckets. Many other maisons are there trying to contend the throne to the Holy Trinity of Watches – but as good as they are, they are always Dukes, Marquises and Counts – and the King is still the King.

2. Audemars Piguet

Audemars Piguet is considered as highly prestigious a watch that has been used over several years. Over the period of years, the company introduced many creative design watches that were ever preferred by most people. In the year 1925, they introduced the first thinnest watch that can be carried in a pocket. After that they introduced a skeleton watch which displays the mechanical functioning secrets through a glass. Although the company is identified as a great manufacturer of watches from the beginning they became popular from the year 1972 and grabbed the lead in the watch industry when they invented the “Royal Oak”. Royal Oak is a trendy, expensive sports watch designed in a conservative branch. These watches are not only identifiable for its design because of its utilization of superior quality material and technology. Audemars Piguet makes use of ceramic rather than using stainless steel.

The ceramic material is tough to deploy polishing which is carried out through the satin brushes. The high-quality benchmark takes the account of movements which makes the purchase of Audemars Piguet a valuable one that can be enjoyed for several years. The bold plus radical design invented in 1972 led to the development of many oak models in the market. But still, this watch is most preferred by all people which are worth the amounts spent.

3. Vacheron Constantin

Vacheron Constantin SA is a Swiss luxury watch and clock manufacturer founded in 1755. Since 1996, it has been a subsidiary of the Swiss Richemont Group. Vacheron Constantin is one of the oldest watch manufacturers in the world with an uninterrupted watchmaking history since its founding. They tried to enter the Railroad watch market and made some very fine watches. They were most successful selling to railroad executives rather than engineers. They made these watches in US sizes so they fit US cases.

Another factor is that the company is still in business and still known as a high end prestige maker. They have recently opened a boutique in New York with an exhibit on their history in the US which has to increase awareness of the brand.

Vacheron Constantin has been around for a long time and made watches in various grades so the name alone.

4. Chopard

The Chopard company was founded in 1860 and it represents one of the most luxurious watch makers on the market. You just don’t have many brands that have been around for 150+ years.

The company was founded by 24 year old Louis-Ulysse Chopard. At the beginning Louis-Ulysse Chopard wanted to pour all his energy in designing pocket watches which were luxurious but also had innovative concepts at their roots.

Many of the watches released on the market by Chopard have in house movements which is great because many watch manufacturers at the time liked to use base movements. This is what separated Chopard from the rest.

Actually because of this particular feature Chopard is on the list of the Fleurier Quality Foundation which means that it has been certified as having one of the highest levels of quality on the watch market.

5. Rolex

In 1905, Hans Wilsdorf and his brother-in-law Alfred Davis founded “Wilsdorf and Davis” in London. At that time his main business was to import Hermann Aigler’s Swiss movement in England and to put it in the quality watch.In 1908 Wilsdorf registered the “Rolex” trademark and opened an office in La Shawkes de Fonds, Switzerland. The company named “Rolex” was registered on November 15, 1915. In 1914, Q Observatory awarded the Rolex Watch Class A Accuracy Certificate, An award that was usually awarded to the marine chronometer.

They have always produced high quality watches, For example, Rolex uses 904L steel instead of the luxury market standard 316L steel which is already way above your Casio and Citizen watches. Good watches don’t use your everyday materials. They are shinier, harder, but also much much more expensive and difficult to work with this mechanism.

The hour markers on the dial, applied white gold. The bezel, made from ceramic which is practically scratch proof. The lining used for the numbers on the bezel, sandblasted platinum. many times making new innovations that kept them on top, but until the 1980’s they were nowhere near as expensive and notable as today.

It was in this time that the “yuppie” movement began, which was a new class of young, wealthy people who began purchasing new flashy materials to display their wealth and new found status. When the yuppies began buying watches, all heads turned to Rolex, which in turn caused a massive price increase because of the demand. A Date Just Rolex model cost $900 in 1981 and by 1991 the price had skyrocketed to $2350 for the same model with minimal improvements. In fact there are several myths associated with Rolex that are not even true. One common misconception is that all Rolex watches are handmade.

Rolex watches are mass-produced by machines patented by Rolex that make around one million watches per year. Another common myth is that Rolex is more accurate, which would be great for them but sadly, it’s just as accurate as any other watch set correctly. In fact, what really makes Rolex so expensive is the name and the jewellery, not the watch itself.

Many of these brands tend to carry out an annual price increase and when the economy was at its worst, many upped their prices as much as twice or thrice per annum. Once you move into PP/AP these pieces are in a league of their own and as such would recover a better percentage of the initial cost.

So that’s it guys. Hope you guys got that you were looking for. Do comment and share the list to your friends. Motivate them to learn something from it. Cheers!

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