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Watches losing popularity

Discussion in 'Fine Living, Home, Design & Auto' started by Bradford, Jun 4, 2006.

  1. imageWIS

    imageWIS Well-Known Member

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    The discussion so far seems to centre on Cartier as a brand, and not the individual product lines, which it should. It is worthwhile to note that the Les Must de Cartier range was introduced in the 1970s, that was the first affordable line of Cartier products, in fact it was the first 'democratisation' of super high end luxury that once only catered to royalty and the very rich. It started with the lighter and then progressed on to encompass pens, sunglasses and watches, almost anyone could afford a small Cartier item. The Les Must de Cartier turned Cartier from a struggling brand into a billion dollar (sales) company by the 1980s. Majority of what Cartier makes is derived from the Les Must de Cartier range in terms of price and quality.

    As a brand Cartier does have a rich and glorious history, but in general the products it makes today cannot compare to what it made in the past. Only at the very top end, like the watches from the Collection Privee Cartier Paris (CPCP) and the jewellery from the high jewellery workshop in Paris (mostly priced above EUR200K), is anywhere near what Cartier of the early 20th century put out. The CPCP collection does contain several technically impressive timepieces, including a tourbillon that utilises a GP Three Gold Bridge movement, but it is ultra-exclusive, ultra-pricey, and rarely sold outside large Cartier boutiques.

    The more down to earth Cartier watches are descendants of the Les Must de Cartier line. They are outstanding for their classic design, Cartier has wisely kept many of their old designs like the Tank and Santos. A sophisticated collector, even with a multi-million dollar collection, will probably recognise the history and value of the designs, which remain as attractive today as when they were unveiled nearly a century ago. The Tank and Santos are arguably more iconic than the rarest Patek Pagoda or Top Hat watches, they are important in the history of the wristwatch. But in terms of tangible quality, most Cartier watches are comparable to Rolex, Omega and the like, and are priced in the same segment. In some ways Cartier offers a Patek Philippe history and heritage for the price of an Omega.


    The reason Cartier's previous watches were so good was because they were manufactured by Patek, AP, and JLC.

    Jon.
     
  2. imageWIS

    imageWIS Well-Known Member

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    I prefer a lot of Omega to Rolexes... I might consider a GMT though... I think the fact that Omega is now offering a coaxial movement in a "cheap" watch is pretty cool. My Planet Ocean is stunningly accurate.

    As for what you say about the bracelets, you're probably right. I am not very attracted by many of Rolex's designs, but I know they're a great company. I don't like how ubiquitous they are, but whatever.


    No, I'm sorry but that's not right. From an inherit manufacturing point-of-view, Rolexes are not well manufactured. Oftentimes, there are traces of minuscule metal scrapings left inside the movement, which overtime can cause problems, especially if they interfere with the movement. Also, the pivot used in their automatic watches, which holds the counterweight, is a throwback to the original pivots (granted, more advanced, but still using the basic principal design) used in the Harwoods (starting in 1926 with the first automatic watches).

    Omega on the other hand has excellent manufacturing standards for the price and is IMHO better made than Rolex. The ETA movements that they used are a lot more advanced, both in design and execution.

    Jon.
     
  3. SJX

    SJX Well-Known Member

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    Jon, I believe the information you refer to in your post is from the infamous Rolex Explorer I review done by Walt Odets. Firstly, the metal shavings were an anomaly, Walt O. himself noted that he didn't think every Rolex left the factory like that.

    As for the automatic pivot, some watchmakers have brought up that point, BUT there is nothinh inherently wrong with using a "throwback to the original pivots" unless it causes a problem. As yet I have to heard of any concrete evidence of problems caused by that design, except speculation that it can or is expected to cause problems.

    No, I'm sorry but that's not right. From an inherit manufacturing point-of-view, Rolexes are not well manufactured. Oftentimes, there are traces of minuscule metal scrapings left inside the movement, which overtime can cause problems, especially if they interfere with the movement. Also, the pivot used in their automatic watches, which holds the counterweight, is a throwback to the original pivots (granted, more advanced, but still using the basic principal design) used in the Harwoods (starting in 1926 with the first automatic watches).

    Omega on the other hand has excellent manufacturing standards for the price and is IMHO better made than Rolex. The ETA movements that they used are a lot more advanced, both in design and execution.

    Jon.
     
  4. LabelKing

    LabelKing Well-Known Member

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    The older Rolex cases were of a superior quality, from my experience; they seemed to use a better steel.

    However, with Cartier, the Les Must de Cartier range was developed in order to make the company profitable in that the firm became stagnant during the late '60s mostly because their products were failing to sell. Apparently tiaras don't sell as well after the War. The line was so successful that people who didn't smoke bought their lighters as a status symbol. Before this, their lighters and other accoutrements merely high-grade accessories, never a status symbol with logos, etc.

    Omega now also has the Daniels co-axial for their watches.
     
  5. imageWIS

    imageWIS Well-Known Member

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    Jon, I believe the information you refer to in your post is from the infamous Rolex Explorer I review done by Walt Odets. Firstly, the metal shavings were an anomaly, Walt O. himself noted that he didn't think every Rolex left the factory like that.

    As for the automatic pivot, some watchmakers have brought up that point, BUT there is nothinh inherently wrong with using a "throwback to the original pivots" unless it causes a problem. As yet I have to heard of any concrete evidence of problems caused by that design, except speculation that it can or is expected to cause problems.


    While Walt's article did have its odd parts about it, I was personally speaking from my experience of actually working at a store which carries Rolex, seeing opened watches and speaking to our watchmaker (dozens of times) in which he noted this as a problem.

    What happens is that Rolex merely replaces it when it's worn down, and charges you for it. You do know that Rolex makes a fortune simply with the repair part of their business, right?

    Jon.
     
  6. imageWIS

    imageWIS Well-Known Member

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    The older Rolex cases were of a superior quality, from my experience; they seemed to use a better steel.

    However, with Cartier, the Les Must de Cartier range was developed in order to make the company profitable in that the firm became stagnant during the late '60s mostly because their products were failing to sell. Apparently tiaras don't sell as well after the War. The line was so successful that people who didn't smoke bought their lighters as a status symbol. Before this, their lighters and other accoutrements merely high-grade accessories, never a status symbol with logos, etc.

    Omega now also has the Daniels co-axial for their watches.


    A lesser, "˜mass-production' version of it, yes...

    Jon.
     
  7. LabelKing

    LabelKing Well-Known Member

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    They also claim it takes one year to manufacture a single watch and yet clearly they make more than a million each year.
     
  8. skalogre

    skalogre Well-Known Member

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    They also claim it takes one year to manufacture a single watch and yet clearly they make more than a million each year.

    DO they seriously claim that? Good grief. So basically they have hundreds of thousands of workers working non-stop for a year to create the next year's line [​IMG] ?
     
  9. imageWIS

    imageWIS Well-Known Member

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    DO they seriously claim that? Good grief. So basically they have hundreds of thousands of workers working non-stop for a year to create the next year's line [​IMG] ?
    Yes, they do claim that. I just mention this in passing, but making 1 million (or more) mechanical watches per year is not a very profitable operation if you do everything ‘the right way’, thus oftentimes corners are cut, from the movement, to manufacturing, to bracelets. Perfect example is the fact that up until very recently the center links of all Rolex watches were hollow. Jon.
     
  10. skalogre

    skalogre Well-Known Member

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    Yes, they do claim that. I just mention this in passing, but making 1 million (or more) mechanical watches per year is not a very profitable operation if you do everything "˜the right way', thus oftentimes corners are cut, from the movement, to manufacturing, to bracelets. Perfect example is the fact that up until very recently the center links of all Rolex watches were hollow.

    Jon.



    Are you serious? You pay a crapload of $$$ for a watch with this almost -mystical (unexplicably to me but anyway) reputation for quality and you get HOLLOW CENTRE LINKS?

    I have seen Seiko which cost $150 that have solid links! Anyway, maybe I am just a plebe but this is ludicrous.
     
  11. imageWIS

    imageWIS Well-Known Member

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    Are you serious? You pay a crapload of $$$ for a watch with this almost -mystical (unexplicably to me but anyway) reputation for quality and you get HOLLOW CENTRE LINKS? I have seen Seiko which cost $150 that have solid links! Anyway, maybe I am just a plebe but this is ludicrous.
    Like, I said, until very recently. I think the first Rolex (‘common’) with solid center links was the SS w/ Platinum bezel Yachtmaster. Now all Oyster Bracelet Rolexes have solid links. I got a better one for you: the Patek 24, the ladies watch has ‘lightened’ links, which is a marketing word for using plastic center links with a thin metal covering on top. How crappy is that? And from Patek no less! Jon.
     
  12. edmorel

    edmorel Well-Known Member

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    Like, I said, until very recently. I think the first Rolex ("˜common') with solid center links was the SS w/ Platinum bezel Yachtmaster. Now all Oyster Bracelet Rolexes have solid links. I got a better one for you: the Patek 24, the ladies watch has "˜lightened' links, which is a marketing word for using plastic center links with a thin metal covering on top. How crappy is that? And from Patek no less!

    Jon.


    Meanwhile, the 24 is a cash cow for them. Women are such easy prey when it comes to fashion.
     
  13. imageWIS

    imageWIS Well-Known Member

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    Meanwhile, the 24 is a cash cow for them. Women are such easy prey when it comes to fashion.

    I know it is. We (um, the jewelry store I used to work at) were the very first Patek retailer in the US to carry them, and from day one they were impossible to keep in stock. It was easier to get a SS Daytona from Rolex than it was to get an SS 24 from Patek.

    Jon.
     
  14. johnapril

    johnapril Well-Known Member

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    I will never buy a watch until I run the year, make, and model by Jon.
     
  15. imageWIS

    imageWIS Well-Known Member

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    I will never buy a watch until I run the year, make, and model by Jon.
    LMAO. The good thing is you can avoid all popular culture by purchasing a vintage watch. Plus, it will most likely cost less than a new watch. Jon.
     
  16. LabelKing

    LabelKing Well-Known Member

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    The Rolex President, I believe, had always had the solid links.
     
  17. SJX

    SJX Well-Known Member

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    Jon, Rolex does claim to be hand-made or hand-assembled, I forget exactly which, but how is that untrue? A Boeing 747 is hand assembled, or at least a significant portion of it is.

    You claim Rolex "cuts corners", how is having a hollow centre link cutting corners? You have worked in a jewellery store so I assume you know that a sizeable number of customers, at least until before the current massive heavy watch trend started, preferred lighter watches.

    More importantly, Rolex makes 600,000-800,000 watches a year, needless to say they won't be haute horlogerie. Few of the average Rolex buyer wants high horology.

    If you nit-pick in that manner, everyone cuts corners. Lange is arguably the best mass produced watch today, yet the underside of the balance wheel on my Lange is unfinished, a corner cut. Philippe Dufour does not make the baseplate or bridges himself, and he has a handful of watchmakers in his atelier to help him out, that's another corner cut.

    Yes, they do claim that. I just mention this in passing, but making 1 million (or more) mechanical watches per year is not a very profitable operation if you do everything "˜the right way', thus oftentimes corners are cut, from the movement, to manufacturing, to bracelets. Perfect example is the fact that up until very recently the center links of all Rolex watches were hollow.

    Jon.
     
  18. SJX

    SJX Well-Known Member

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    How does your sample of "dozens" of watches prove that a Rolex movement is inherently flawed? Rolex makes hundreds of thousands a year. I too have seen "dozens" of Rolex watches with no problems at all, after several years of wear.

    Rolex does make a fortune from repairing, BUT Rolex charges much, much less than most watch brands for servicing, mainly because they simply replace parts as you note. And more importantly, Rolex turnaround time is very much quicker. Those are two issues that are important to the average consumer.

    IWC, JLC, Blancpain, AP are just some of the brands I am familiar with who do NOT replace any parts, merely service the watch, and charge far more than Rolex. That is not a criticism, I am a patron of the brands mentioned. So is what Rolex does a bad thing?

    While Walt's article did have its odd parts about it, I was personally speaking from my experience of actually working at a store which carries Rolex, seeing opened watches and speaking to our watchmaker (dozens of times) in which he noted this as a problem.

    What happens is that Rolex merely replaces it when it's worn down, and charges you for it. You do know that Rolex makes a fortune simply with the repair part of their business, right?

    Jon.
     
  19. SJX

    SJX Well-Known Member

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    Well once again I must disagree. Ladies who buy a Patek 24 couldn't care less whether the centre links are solid. Patek uses 'lightened' links for two reasons, one is that it makes the watch less hefty (an important criteria for many female customers), and the other is the plastic used is more resilient than metal. If it was only a hollow metal link the bracelet would stretch.

    And yes, Rolex hollow links did stretch, that's why the company has since redesigned the bracelet.

    Like, I said, until very recently. I think the first Rolex ("˜common') with solid center links was the SS w/ Platinum bezel Yachtmaster. Now all Oyster Bracelet Rolexes have solid links. I got a better one for you: the Patek 24, the ladies watch has "˜lightened' links, which is a marketing word for using plastic center links with a thin metal covering on top. How crappy is that? And from Patek no less!

    Jon.
     
  20. LabelKing

    LabelKing Well-Known Member

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    True quality could arguably be found in the vintage or antique time-pieces, especially the pocket-watches from say, Audemars Piguet or even earlier, L.Leroy & Cie, not its modern constituent: [​IMG] This sort of quality simply isn't made anymore given the context of what these century era craftspeople had to work with. Haas Neveux's Geneva Observatory Chronometre record of 879 points was not beat until 1925, which is something to note. Some of the earler George Daniels pocket-watches are very beautiful though; quite Breguet in aesthetic.
     

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