Are expensive watches worth your money?

Original BDWF archived information from James
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James Elsener
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Are expensive watches worth your money?

Post by James Elsener » Wed Apr 17, 2019 3:52 pm

The answer is an unqualified yes if you are beholden by

superior quality of cases. Often individually milled out of a solid block of metal. Subsequently hand-polished

nicely detailed dials in most cases individually made

hand-polished sapphire crystals

individually decorated by hand movements for mechanical watches

quartz movements with gilted contacts

etc, etc.

in short they are worth your money only if you are enthralled by hand-crafted things.

Watches from Patek Philippe or Vacheron Constantin are not only made that way but keep their and in many cases even increase in value over time. Certainly, the limited number of watches that can be made that way also help.

The quality of a watch depends to a large extent on how much the people making the components going into it love their craft. To people employed by brands like Patek or Rolex making watches is not a job but their vocation. That is why almost all of them undergo vocational training always taking years.

In Switzerland people are trained in what we call the 'apprentissage' (apprenticeship). This means that they undergo training on the job in alteration to training in specialised vocational schools. You find more details on the way two-thirds of the Swiss youngs are trained here. The apprenticeship system used to be universal all over the world in the past. In old novels you might find the caption and 'he was apprenticed to'. In the past the apprentices had to pay for the privilege of being trained. Today, they are getting paid and the more they further they progress in their training the more they are paid. The apprenticeship system has survived in its purest form in Switzerland and to a lesser extent in Germany and Austria.

In the Swiss watch industry it takes

3 years of training to become a federally certified watch case maker

4 years of training to become a federally certified watch maker with specialisation 'watch industry'. These are the people working in a watch factory setting

4 years of training to become a federally certified watch maker with specialisation 'rhabilleur' (this is the watch maker working on the most delicate movements and fine-tuning them)

4 years of training plus 1 additional year to become a federally certified watch maker with specialisation 'after sales'. These are the people handling the complex tasks of servicing and repairing watches

4 years of training plus 2 additional years to become federally certified watch maker allowed to guide apprentices.

4 years of training to become a federally certified guillocheur. These are the people decorating the individual watch parts and/or making complex dials.

The top of the range manufacturers want only properly trained people to work on their watches. Subsequently watch factories and components suppliers alike invest a lot of time and energy in educating and training these young people.

The company making our cases is a small firm in La Chaux-de-Fonds. They have a staff of 23 people on the shopfloor. Every single of these people is a federally certified watch case maker. If you take a case of our watches and you put next to it a case of a non-descript factory you start noticing the difference. There are no gratings and uneven cuts in our case for instance. The inside is polished as well. The case has an even lustre, etc., etc. There are companies not employing trained people and they make good cases as well, however by employing properly trained people you stand to increase the chance of making superior products many times over. And this goes for every single component going into the watch.

This is in a nutshell why expensive watches are usually worth more than their money. Just my two cents worth of experience.
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biglove
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Re: Are expensive watches worth your money?

Post by biglove » Wed Mar 10, 2021 4:04 pm

Good read.

The law of diminshing returns applies. In my experience, limited as it is, I have found that most watches in the $800-$2000 range can be fairly comparable, if considering grey and used market especially. Seems that in that range it is bracelets/clasps that suffer the most. That being said there are exceptions. Sinn's lower end as well as the Seiko Sharp Edge punch well above their prices.

Once you go north of $2K, the returns are even less significant. And with GS, no real case finishing/bracelet differences regardless. With GS it is the dial and movement where the extra $ brings the goods.
"I believe in a God who doesn't need heavy financing." Irwin M. Fletcher, Fletch Lives, 1989
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temerityb
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Re: Are expensive watches worth your money?

Post by temerityb » Wed Mar 10, 2021 5:13 pm

James has always been one of my favorite people on the forums. Just a wealth of information at all times. Always an excellent read.
“Jewelry isn’t really my thing, but I’ve always got my eye on people’s watches.” – Clive Owen
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JAS1125
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Re: Are expensive watches worth your money?

Post by JAS1125 » Wed Mar 10, 2021 5:20 pm

temerityb wrote:
Wed Mar 10, 2021 5:13 pm
James has always been one of my favorite people on the forums. Just a wealth of information at all times. Always an excellent read.

Very true...he was kind enough to send me some of his posts that he saved. He is retired now from the watch world, and it's our loss
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temerityb
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Re: Are expensive watches worth your money?

Post by temerityb » Wed Mar 10, 2021 7:55 pm

JAS1125 wrote:
Wed Mar 10, 2021 5:20 pm
temerityb wrote:
Wed Mar 10, 2021 5:13 pm
James has always been one of my favorite people on the forums. Just a wealth of information at all times. Always an excellent read.

Very true...he was kind enough to send me some of his posts that he saved. He is retired now from the watch world, and it's our loss
I hope he's retired from the watch world because he did it on his terms. Just a fountain of information; he'd answer questions willingly and with class each time.

Much respect here.
“Jewelry isn’t really my thing, but I’ve always got my eye on people’s watches.” – Clive Owen
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JAS1125
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Re: Are expensive watches worth your money?

Post by JAS1125 » Wed Mar 10, 2021 7:58 pm

temerityb wrote:
Wed Mar 10, 2021 7:55 pm
JAS1125 wrote:
Wed Mar 10, 2021 5:20 pm
temerityb wrote:
Wed Mar 10, 2021 5:13 pm
James has always been one of my favorite people on the forums. Just a wealth of information at all times. Always an excellent read.

Very true...he was kind enough to send me some of his posts that he saved. He is retired now from the watch world, and it's our loss
I hope he's retired from the watch world because he did it on his terms. Just a fountain of information; he'd answer questions willingly and with class each time.

Much respect here.

I believe he did...sold the company and he has a herb and garden group on Facebook and I think that's part of a new venture. Called the Spartans Table
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Ocean
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Re: Are expensive watches worth your money?

Post by Ocean » Thu Mar 11, 2021 5:12 am

JAS1125 wrote:
Wed Mar 10, 2021 7:58 pm
temerityb wrote:
Wed Mar 10, 2021 7:55 pm
JAS1125 wrote:
Wed Mar 10, 2021 5:20 pm



Very true...he was kind enough to send me some of his posts that he saved. He is retired now from the watch world, and it's our loss
I hope he's retired from the watch world because he did it on his terms. Just a fountain of information; he'd answer questions willingly and with class each time.

Much respect here.

I believe he did...sold the company and he has a herb and garden group on Facebook and I think that's part of a new venture. Called the Spartans Table
It’s true he did sell. He helped me out with some problems I was having and put me in touch with Wolfgang who helped immensely.
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