Choosing your first watch depends on a number of things, not least, the cash in your pocket, so how does this pricing work and are wrist watches worth what we are paying for them?
As I was saying choosing your first watch will depend on your price range, taste, and needs, so if you have a few hundred dollars and don’t want anything too fancy, a Quartz from one of the many trusted brands like Timex or Braun. Alternatively, there is another option when it comes to automatics at very affordable prices and that’s going to Seiko and Citizen, both trusted brands that make great automatics for less than $300.
Moving up to the next level we see mechanical timepieces from the likes of Junghans and Christopher Ward coming in at around $600, but with a $1000 your options open up from a pre-owned classic model through to brand new models from some top brands. Anything after this your world get a lot bigger and so do the prices, but are watch really worth the money that’s being asked for and handed over?
How Does Watch Pricing Work?
If you pass a shop window or glance at a website to see a nice watch with $10,000 price tag on it, the immediate assumption “That must be a fantastic watch if it costs $10,000” springs to mind. Then next to the $10,000 watch sits and almost identical watch selling for $200 and it starts to get confusing, I mean how can two watches that seem so similar be so different?
The answer is two fold, firstly, we need to understand that different materials have different costs associated, and secondly, there is a premium to be paid for craftsmanship heritage. So let’s see how this works.
Think about the costs associated with the manufacture of a hand built Watch with a hand built mechanical movement made with precious metals, then add length of manufacture and brand heritage to the equation and you start to see how the costs can rise. While even the best quartz movements from Switzerland cost as little as $70 and much less for a Chinese movement, Automatic movements will always cost more.
This can be because many are made in-house and tested rigorously, and also because the watches that house them are of better designed, made of more valuable materials and come with a long lineage of expert watchmaking.
Is It Worth It?
So okay, Automatics are more expensive but what about the high prices you see such as Rolex Submarina at $7,000 and Omega Seamaster at $5,000? These prices seem high and when you consider there are perfectly good watches out there for under $1000 how can these prices be justified?
This is a valid question and highlights a very real criticism of what could be considered price fixing by the main players in the market. Take for example a couple of big players like Rolex and TAG who can charge thousands of dollars for their mass produced products due to a perception of rareness produced by their marketing campaigns. Decades of advertising and promoting their products as desirable and difficult to source builds a culture of desire and acceptance of the asking price.
While you may think to yourself this is unfair, it’s simply marketing to sell a product but in addition to this it’s important to understand while it’s true the high price of mass produced luxury watches due to branding, there are some factors to consider.
The mass produced luxury watches will often be made with metals like gold and silver, the research, and development, time, technology and design is typically superior to the materials and technology of your $200 department store watch meaning better quality and a longer life So it’s a double sided coin, on one side you are getting a better quality product, on the other side you are paying for the mystique, the story, the brand.
Top End Luxury
This brings us to the top of the tree, where companies like Audemars Piguet, Blancpain, and IWC do their work. If you know anything about these brands you will know what kind of prices they go far but this is a slightly different situation because the prices here are high due to genuine scarcity, and brand history built over the years.
We are talking about small numbers of meticulously handcrafted timepieces made from the finest materials that may take months or even years to be finished, so how do you feel about the high prices now?
The situation is clear. You can buy a perfectly good, reliable watch for a couple of hundred dollars or you can enter the luxury market and spend $500 and upwards but just be aware you will be paying for the name. Alternatively, you can enter the high-end market and spend many thousand, but at the end of the day, it’s you that needs to decide if it worth spending all that money, which really comes down to how much you want that watch.
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For more information about where to look for your favorite watch brand why not read my watch store reviews to get a better idea where to look?
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