A common concern amongst newer expensive watch brand collectors is, "Why are high-end watches so expensive?" In our modern world of "Quick Style," we can forget why some products have such jaw-dropping prices related to them-- and balk at who is nutty (or fortunate) enough to spend that much on a watch!
Here we break down the 3 core factors that affect (and ultimately inflate) the expense of a high-end watch.
Expensive Watches For Men: Luxury watches are made with the finest materials.
From the diamond-covered bezel to the gold watch case to the mother-of-peal dial, watch makers utilize premier quality materials (both inside and out) to develop their high-end watches. In turn, these precious materials are a direct line to a greater cost. While less-expensive materials could be used (like stainless steel or gold-plated metals), using these great products improves the longevity of the piece.
The materials used to construct a watch also end up being a substantial point of distinction for some brands. To wit, Rolex is the sole watch brand name to make its own gold; the Swiss watchmaker has actually presumed regarding run their own gold foundry in order to be the unique producer of the gold utilized for their watch cases and bracelets. They even developed and patented their own shade of rose gold, Everose.
Expensive Watches Womens: It can take years of research and development to create a watch or watch motion.
Watchmaking is a surprisingly high-stakes game. Provided the long history of watches, it can be extremely challenging for a brand to innovate upon centuries-old technology and watchmakers will continuously challenge themselves to build a watch that is thinner, has more complications, or is even more accurate than its predecessors. It's a remarkable balance of carrying on and building upon the longstanding custom of watches.
Brands will invest a substantial amount of time and resources to design, test, and best their watches before they make their huge public launching. (For one example, A. Lange & Sohne invests between three to 5 years to design a new watch or caliber.) With all that stated, creating a new watch or motion takes a long time and, as the expression goes, time is money which is ultimately shown in watch's final price.
High-end watches are typically only readily available in extremely limited amounts.
High-end items-- be they watches, bags, or sports cars-- are by definition uncommon. They're expensive to produce and their exclusivity heightens their desirability to the elite shopper who can in fact manage them. That said, watches aren't necessarily produced in limited qualities to offer the illusion of their rarity.
Lots of luxury watches are hand-finished so scaling production is merely not an option. (One such brand name is Bovet that produces only 2,000 watches a year and it is estimated that in its 180-year history, Patek Philippe has produced less than a million watches.) Furthermore, in order to preserve their internal accuracy and exacting specs, brands want to have tight control over their production procedure which is easier performed in smaller sized quantities. For that reason, these small-run watches earn a higher retail value.
Ultimately, all these factors come together to represent the premium value put upon luxury and great watches and discuss why a specific watch is more than another.
Expensive Watches Brand
It is amusing how often I hear about watch movements that took years to get working. In today's world highly trained micro mechanical engineers plot out models for new watch movements and modules on computers before they are ever made. Especially if the desire exists for something unique or complications that are difficult to make.
I get asked this question a lot so I figured I would simply design a number of the reasons that watches are expensive in a short article. There is a threshold issues though-- which is between "pricey" and "overpriced." Those 2 products are not mutually unique, and are various.
Overpriced means that something simply has a cost that is vastly in excess of the materials cost + marketing costs + development costs + manufacturing cost + distribution costs + fair profit. Expensive watches and overpriced watches are very common. The answer is yes, but you still want the watch, don't you?
I will now go ahead and list numerous (however not all) of the factors that watches are so expensive. These are both in defense of the industry, and expositive issues that are less glamorous in regard to the luxury market.
1. Watches can be costly to make and establish.
It is entertaining how frequently I hear about watch movements that took years to get working. Entertaining in the sense that a team would spend a lot time on a "problem" that currently has been resolved, but they wish to do so in a "different way." Suggesting that they should develop a brand-new watch movement to inform the time, however make it simply different adequate to "call their own." In today's world extremely trained micro mechanical engineers plot out designs for new watch motions and modules on computers before they are ever made. This process can take years. Especially if the desire exists for something distinct or complications that are challenging to make.
Watch movements are not just pricey to think up, however it is also costly to get motions to work and be durable. This requires even more screening. Millions can go into the advancement of a new "calibre." And that is simply the movement. Creating a watch case and bracelet might be simpler because it is not a maker, but it is tough-- specifically when you are dealing with tolerances that are frequently non current. Great watches utilize good products, bottom line. The best materials need huge amounts of hand attention or labor. While devices are frequently utilized to make tiny parts, high-end watches employ teams of people to go over each part and delicately complete them and often embellish them.
A great wrist watch can take in between a couple of days to many months to produce. Even brand names with high need typically can not get sufficient item to market. This issue develops increased market demand and a bottleneck of production. Many brands wish to make more watches than they do, however this isn't always simple or cost effective. Having high demand is an issue people want to have, and is due to the time and complexity associated with making high-end wrist watches. This relates to the idea that watches are pricey due to low production and pricey providers, which I discuss more listed below.
2. Movements aren't always cheap.
Some high-end brand names make their own movements. Numerous mainstream brands also make their motions. However this is comparing very high-end mechanical ones with much less expensive quartz motions. Making your own movements widely means that motion expenses are gon na be relatively cheaper-- however mechanical motions are still costly to make.
Most brands need to buy watch movements for their watches (but they can also modify or decorate them after buying them). A few bucks for a quartz movement can't compare to the cost of a mechanical tourbillon movement. Still, a basic Swiss automatic mechanical chronograph movement can cost about $250.
ETA makes a number of quartz and mechanical movements, and are the most sought after in Switzerland from a volume perspective. ETA will further restrict the movements they sell to brands outside of its parent group to fully made movement.
When you are discussing very high-end unique mechanical movements, the rate per a motion can be in the tens of thousands of dollars. The now defunct however renowned BNB Concept movement maker failed because brands couldn't pay for to foot the bill after buying such expensive parts for their wrist watches. BNB Concept wasn't overpriced, however cost of most of their complex movements simply cost that much. For this reason high-end watches with intricate motions are made most of the time in really limited amounts -since it is too expensive for brands to have these watches relaxing unsold due their expense of production.
3. Low quantities equal high costs.
Because of this, the initial cost of development and tooling (to set up machines to properly make the parts for the watches) can be thinly distributed in each piece. Just the cost of making watch hands can be very high. Even if you are talking the comparatively inexpensive costs associated with Asian watch manufacturing, the lower the amount of watch, the higher the cost for each one must be due to the costs of designing, making, and buying the parts that make up the watch.
4. Most watch brands want to be luxury brands.
The dream to be on a starlet's wrist and envied by passers-by. This is a place many watch and jewelry companies want to be. Few of them get there legitimately, and those that can afford to pay to be there aren't exactly numerous either. Brands that the well-to-do choose for themselves are those that have a history of being preferred by the elite, and have names synonymous with lavish lifestyles and hopefully, quality. It is actually quality and exclusivity that made historic luxury brands what they are today. The idea that people with means have the ability to choose the best and more beautiful. So whatever they choose must be good.
Patek Phillipe has a lot of its reputation today because they have a long history of making excellent watches. Not necessarily because they paid a lot of marketing to make you think celebrities prefer them. It used to be that luxury was about "the best quality and materials-- no matter the price." Fortunately this still exists in enough places, but is less common than you think.
It requires generations of experience, lots of money, access to resources, and lots of time in R&D. Think of how complex it would even be, to be the best "shoelace maker" around-- and what a brand would have to do to attain this position. Now think of any other much more complex product.
Back when people had to make their own clothes, they knew a lot more about clothes. We are no longer a society where we are expected to fend for ourselves or make our own things. This is progress, but in the process makes us uneducated in terms of being able to evaluate many of the things we buy.
With luxury, the presumption exists that someone "thought about all that for me." That you are buying a more expensive item because the people behind it know what they are doing, and that connoisseurs who can choose whatever they like, choose "this." Marketers at (supposed or real) luxury brands know this. So they try to artificially create the illusion that this exists. If this state does exist, they simply trying to enhance or amplify it. I am by no means saying that "true luxury" never exists. I wouldn't be into nice things if it didn't-- but enough companies are able to take advantage of people's desire for luxury. There are those of you who will disagree with my definition of luxury, and point to purely economic definitions, but consider my explanation of the concept as applied in this context.
Therefore, brands create artificially high prices and invest heavily in marketing to craft an image that it hopes will adhere to concepts of luxury that you value given your desire to have nice things that are well made and that other people who "know" might appreciate.
5. Good watches take highly trained people a long time to make.
I recall visiting a high-end watch manufacture in Europe and being shown a few ultra complex timepieces that can take a team of skilled watchmakers a year to make. A year to make just one watch. They aren't exactly working on it full time, but it does take a long while when a mechanical watch must be made, finished, decorated, and tested extensively. Imagine how long it takes to delicately hand polish hundreds of parts by hand ... under a microscope. The people doing this range in skill level, but the best of them are highly trained and certified by years of school. In Europe especially, these people are paid pretty well, and hours and hours of their time is valuable. Of course, most watches are assembled much faster, but this situation does exist, and impacts the costs of the best high-end timepieces a great deal. So when you take into consideration a year's worth of time f0r a highly trained team, you can understand why labor costs can highly impact some high-end watches.