Originally Posted by Coxsackie
Where I do agree with Matt - well, I think I agree with him, although he didn't explicitly state the reasoning behind his statement - is that the luxury goods industry in general is a pretty tawdry space. We are being brainwashed to equip ourselves with all sorts of unnecessary branded goods and gewgaws, the subliminal message being that we are joining some kind of elite by doing so.
A good observation, Cox.
I like watches, but they are most definitely luxury goods, perhaps to an even greater extent than expensive cars. In the "totally unnecessary and overly expensive" stakes, I would think that the only thing ranked higher than mechanical watches would be diamond jewellery.
Let's face it, mechanical watches are totally redundant nowadays. Anything that they can do, battery-powered watches can do better and 99% of the population carries around a phone that contains a clock, calendar and a whole range of other functions, too.
Of course, we men (as it is almost exclusively men who obsess over expensive, mechanical watches) like to say that it's all about the high-end mechanics - the carefully machined movement, the elegance of the case, the carefully applied lume on the dial and so forth.
Frankly, there might be a little bit of that, but most of it is (in my very humble opinion) rubbish. After all, if it was about the movement and so on, we'd all be wearing Grand Seikos or something similar, as they cost less than half as much as a Rolex Sub but are beautifully made (and they've got an in-house movement, too, something that watch geeks love to carry on about!).
Most of the enthusiasm about watches comes down to marketing, or brainwashing as Cox puts it. We're convinced that brand X is better than W, Y and Z because someone wore one of brand X's watches when they were climbing a mountain 50 years ago. There was an interesting discussion over in the watch thread a year or two back where a few people quite frankly commented that even though they rationally know that a brand like Grand Seiko is great, they'd always buy a Rolex or similar watch over a Grand Seiko because they simply don't covet a Grand Seiko, but they grew up knowing about and wanting to own a Rolex. That's the power of marketing and Rolex has very, very expertly harnessed its heritage for use as a marketing tool.
I respect Rolex as a brand, as they've done a fantastic job. I'm a bit surprised at just how popular they've become nowadays - I didn't realise that you had to get on a months-long waiting list to get a plain Submariner watch and that you'd have to pay just under $10 000 for the privilege! I think that the price has more than doubled over the past decade or so.