The ad campaign ("You never actually own a Patek Phillippe. You merely look after it for the next generation.") is brilliant. I am skeptical that is going to continue to work. Look at the wrists of millenials today. Your son either is going to wear the latest iWatch, or is not going to wear a watch at all.
That's addressed in the Last Psychiatrist article.
The ads are in the Economist, which is read by people who will be the target demo for Patek in 15-20 years (not the current target demo, who does not impulse-buy a $40,000 watch). They're investing in their future customers and in a way, adding to the intangible value of the signal. If you don't understand why Pateks are worth it, that implies something about your own reading habits and therefore non-belonging to the target demo.
I've seen it with strategy consultants and suitcases. I have a friend who was at one of the famous ones for a while, and visiting me in Singapore, he spent half an hour in the Tumi store. Half an hour. Bewildering!
Edited by crdb - 8/12/16 at 7:39am