im going to leave rolex out of this because i think they really are a unique brand when it comes to this. in many many ways. i mean, hans wildorf developed the brand with the intention for it to be a behemoth. i read once that he came up with name "rolex" because it sounds luxurious and can be easily pronounced in any language and dialect. not sure if thats true, but it sounds good to me. the brand was established to that end. to be a huge luxury player. unlike almost every other brand (aside from IWC, although iirc mr jones, an american, set out to be more of a worldwide supplier and parts maker than a luxury watch manufacture, or something like that) that bear the name(s) of its founders and began as small luxury ateliers.
as well, the progression of ownership and leadership of the brand, the secrecy of policy, the almost entirely in house manufacture of everything they do, is very unique. its a fascinating brand, and mr wildorf was truly a genius in how he put the rolex brand into motion, and how he was able to affect its entire existence and way of business, long after he passed. its a true gem of a brand and company. unheralded in some ways.
all that aside, what i meant was as following. lets just take richemont for example. here is a small sampling of the brands under their umbrella.
now, when i read the articles about the history of those brands, and when you see that incorporated in their advertising, and when you read the introductory pages to their yearly watch collection books (damn i love those, i need to order more) it makes me tingle. such fascinating histories, all the various medals won at world fairs and competitions of days gone by, the innovations of the founders and their successors, the small work shops in the frigid swiss alps.... all that stuff. i love it.
but then i put it into the context of these companies now just being a cog in the giant machine that is richemont and what not. instead of artisans at the helm, its men in power suits with multi-national MBAs, who knows how many VPs, and CEOs shuffling like a deck of cards at a vegas black jack table. it just loses some of that enchantment and value to me. its just not the same to me, and its not what i emotionally envision when i read the aforementioned histories.
dont get me wrong, i bear no ill will to richemont and their counterparts. i know its a cold hard fact that without the likes of them we would never see the production and quality levels of these watches. you need a lot of money to manufacture tens, or hundreds, of thousands, of a product at supreme quality levels. and some of these brands would surely be long defunct. and many of those that may have survived would still be attainable only to the uber rich, diplomats, and the like. 1k, 5k, even 20k, is a lot for a watch, but its attainable. you dont have to be napoleon to own a breguet, and i love that. i am very grateful and happy for what they do. they usually do their best to keep within the ideals of the men who established these brands, and they try to be honest with that. and thats highly commendable, besides just being good business sense.
but still, its just not the same. so is how it strikes me anyways.