Hermès – Ariel’s Thoughts: The Four Styles Of Luxury Watch Buying

Hermès – Ariel’s Thoughts: The Four Styles Of Luxury Watch Buying


Does it surprise you that I spend a lot of time thinking about luxury? So much so that I’ve broken down the definition of “luxury” into four distinct versions as applied to luxury watches. I find that too often the term “luxury watch” is used to refer to many different things—things that do not always belong in the same classification. In essence, as most people don’t need a wristwatch these days, almost all watches are luxuries. Now, that definition isn’t very satisfying because it doesn’t talk about the particular satisfaction owning or wearing a luxury timepiece gives you.

My definitions of luxury watches begin with why the wearer chose the item in the first place. So, let’s examine the four main motivations I have found and connect them to a few watches I believe would satisfy someone driven by such motivations. This is by no means a complete list, but rather a way to understand the mentality and considerations different types of luxury seekers might want to go through when choosing a timepiece product that is right for them. This is the most popular rolex replica.

Social Projection of Wealth & Success

The first type of luxury in the arena of watches is the aim to socially project a sense of wealth and success. This is one of the most common forms of luxury watch that consumers seek, and the idea is to use a watch or other wearable item to tell people around you, “I have money and I’m not afraid to spend it.” Demonstrating success is often about showing easily recognizable, expensive items that even people who can’t afford them will identify for what they are. A good example is that brands like Rolex or Rolls Royce are well-known as expensive luxuries even if the people recognizing them don’t know much about watches or cars.

Watches that allow the wearer to socially project wealth and success are those that are immediately identifiable as being expensive to the target audience. Usually, that audience is society at large, which means the more name recognition, the better. Sometimes that target audience is more niche, which means the wearer is seeking something specific that the target group specifically knows as being very expensive. In the world of watches this could be a very exclusive new watch or a rare historic collectible.

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Rolex Day-Date 40 in solid 18k gold


The strength of Rolex makes it among the few brands with products that can be easily used for various luxury types. One of the more traditional uses of a Rolex watch is to signify that the wearer has “made it.” This is especially true when wearing an all-gold Rolex such as the legendary Rolex Day-Date (“President”). Those with a taste for diamonds can call even more attention to themselves by further decorating their President watches — Rolex offers more than enough factory options. Comfortable and timeless, a Rolex President is the type of watch you can buy in your 30s and wear into your 60s without much effort.

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Audemars Piguet Royal Oak 16202 ‘Jumbo’

Audemars Piguet

At this point in history, the historically straight-laced Audemars Piguet is having a mutual love affair with the world of hip-hop music and urban culture. The brand’s iconic Royal Oak family of many different watches is highly recognizable and not particularly low-end in price. Word has been out that wearing an Audemars Piguet Royal Oak is a popular sign of wealth and success, and those with the most eagerness to project their spending power opt for models entirely covered in diamonds, which given the design of the architected case and bracelet is particularly dashing in its call for attention.

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Richard Mille RM 50-03 Tourbillon Split-Seconds Chronograph McLaren F1

Richard Mille

Wearing a Richard Mille in many parts of the world is more or less a signal that you are in the I Can Afford Very Expensive Things Club. For almost a decade now, the media has included stories about how star athletes such as Rafael Nadal compete professionally while wearing a wristwatch that happened to cost between $500, 000 and $1,000,000 (depending on the model). Faced with this news the world had no option but to ask “what are those watches all about?” Richard Mille (the man) has called his products “racing machines for the wrist.” Inspired by the world of Formula 1 racing, his timepieces are just that: an unapologetically tough-to-manufacture, high-performance machine designed to flirt with the wearer as to the complex structure that is holding it all together. Richard Mille watches are among the only ultra-modern-looking luxury brands today and have further succeeded in getting the rich and powerful to fight over its products.


A love of watches today do not begin with a love of showing off. Even though plenty of people wear watches to get a reaction out of people, that isn’t what fuels a passion for timepieces and horology. Instead, what fuels the passion of collectors is the pursuit of better and better objects within the same category. I call that the pursuit of connoisseurship. The idea is simple: Once you are interested in a category of items, you investigate that category for the best of those items because experiencing them makes you feel good.

Being a connoisseur might be most closely associated with snobbery, but snobs are just arrogant connoisseurs. Being a connoisseur is really about seeking to feel good as one’s tastes get more and more refined. A wine connoisseur will continue to seek out better and better flavors, eventually opting to only experience flavors they like. An automobile connoisseur might be picky about how a car handles, accelerates, is designed, or simply fits within a theme. Connoisseurs seek their own subjective form of perfection within a category. Such a pursuit aims to determine the best items by differentiating them from the worst.

In the scope of luxury watches, being a connoisseur can come in a few forms but what each of them has in common is an appreciation by the wearer for the technique or overall outcome of a watch. The perfect proportions of the design, the legibility of the dial, the action of the chronograph pushers—these are all things that a watch connoisseur might pursue heartily. It also often happens that the best “feeling” watches are usually the expensive ones. So, for that reason, wristwatch connoisseurs are best at being well-funded consumers since seeking connoisseur-level watches also requires paying handsomely for the experience. Connoisseurs probably have the most satisfaction as luxury watch seekers but their experiences are very personal and tastes vary wildly. That said, over time, we’ve seen that connoisseur watch lovers tend to be those who have the greatest influence over other watch consumers.

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A. Lange & Söhne Datograph Perpetual Tourbillon

A. Lange & Söhne

The crown jewel of Germany’s watchmaking is A. Lange & Söhne, located in the mountain town of Glashütte. The uniquely Saxon luxury brand is all about making a great watch the old-fashioned (i.e., expensive and slow) way. Buyers are rewarded with meticulously crafted timepieces that, at the same time, strive to be long-lasting high-performers that are also beautiful to look at. A. Lange & Söhne watches include beautifully hand-decorated mechanical movements that seasoned aficionados often agree are the best of their type for a brand that makes more than just a few timepieces a year (Lange only produces a few thousand).

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The dial of the Greubel Forsey Double Balancier à Différentiel Constant

Greubel Forsey

Often tapped to complete impossibly complicated mechanisms for some other select high-end brands, Greubel Forsey succeeds in putting the most time and effort into its products, which command an average price of nearly $500,000. Greubel Forsey celebrates strict mechanical watchmaking distilled to its core values. Those values are to produce a well-functioning machine that visually demonstrates how proud the people who made it are of the result. Collectors often praise Greubel Forsey products for their absolutely industry-leading detailing and finishing. Behold the movements with a magnifying glass, and you’d be hard-pressed to find any imperfections.