Originally Posted by Newcomer
Well, this topic sure has become very interesting. I have gone back and forth on my opinions since this discussion first started, and it is Mimo
's post that has finally allowed me to gather my thoughts. So, I will just piggy back a little bit on his post.
I will be completely honest. When I first read B's post, I was hesitant. B speaks about the rice-paper guilloche, the hand-blued logo, etc., and when I read those features, I was rather dismissive. It came across as fluff. I wanted more substance
. It was only when I read Mimo's post that I realized that this is the same kind of information that I eat up from other brands. When Grand Seiko speaks of their Zaratsu Katana Blade polishing style, I am riveted. When AL&S talk of their gold chatons, I eat that stuff up. When Patek speaks of blackened gold indices, or an officer's caseback than took three years to engineer, I am utterly captivated. So why was I so dismissive with B's "press release?"
To quote our dear friend Reevolving, perhaps it is a little bit of... cognitive dissonance
? Sorry, just had to go there. But seriously, when I hear about some of the features on the Celadon watches, I think to myself that there is no way that a watch can offer that much in the way of features for around $1,000. I think to myself that something
has to give. But Mimo's post made me think to myself that maybe we are really drinking the koolaide. Maybe a watch can have gold chatons and be under $20,000. I really have such a miniscule understanding of what these things actually cost.
I remember seeing this "watch meme" on WUS that made me chuckle a little bit:
But doesn't it really speak to a very important issue? Let us not forget that the luxury watch industry is effectively a watch-selling oligopoly. They set the prices, and their output is dictated by the market / economists, not by their watch makers. I will respond with more later, but I wanted to lay out what I think may be on the minds of many.
Hi Newcomer, let me respond to your post.
Why do you say that the rice-paper guilloche, the hand-blued logo, etc come across as fluff ? Do you know that the hand-bluing took several months of back and forth between the manufactory and I to perfect? The design of the logo itself took 9 months of elimination and contemplation. I would imagine that would count as substance. A hand-blued logo, the only such one in the world, cannot be impeached on either quality or novelty surely?
You should read the process of achieving the hand-engraved gold balance cocks on the earlier WUS thread I posted to see the story behind it. All of that is from my personal experience, not related from a PR copy.
If you think that a watch costing what mine costs (which is actually more than a 1000) cannot possibly offer the features and quality does, why do you think so? Maybe it shows that many of the big brands charge far too much for what they do.
Gold chatons are very hard to assemble. The chatons must fit exactly in the holes when drilled, and the chatons themselves must be polished and bevelled. My movement has 4 of these chatons, so 11 heat-blued screws and 3 gold chatons are used. Even the small screw below the swan neck regulator is heat-blued.
A three-quarter plate movement is also more laborious to produce. Because the gong train must be positioned below on the base plate and then the three-quarter plate must be fitted perfectly so each pivot rests in the upper bearing, a three quarter plate is harder to assemble than a bridge movement.
However even though these features are expensive, obviously skilled labour costs less in China than in Germany. This does not however mean it is inferior. There are 4 old masters working in Beijing with tremendous experience and skill.
The manufactory is also located in a little mountain village outside Beijing (known as "the garden of Beijing"), and the workers are all from the village, so the labour costs are lower than in the capital. If you see my phototour on Purists, you can somewhat imagine the cool laidback mountainside atmosphere of the region.
As to your very humorous image in the post, it is nonetheless very true. I have toured several of the Swiss watch factories, including many top-tier ones, as well as two in China, and the processes are very much similar. In fact the machines are almost the same as well, and even the scenery. Changping village, where my watches are produced, is surrounded by snowcapped mountains and has fresh air and serenity, much like the Chaux-de-Fonds or Plan-les-Ouates.
Nothing wrong with CNC machines by the way, even Dufour uses them. What matters is the hand finishing that takes place after.