Once you’ve been exposed to watches for a little bit, your tastes (more often than not) begin to shift from the drugstore specials you likely started with, and you begin to shift up in the price ranges a bit. But, no matter where you end up, it seems there’s always another tier (or five) up the ladder, and at some point you hit a breaking point where your budget (or sense of value) puts the brakes on your acquisition plans. That leaves you with one big question – why do some watches cost so much?

zenith el primero

In this excellent article (here), Jason Heaton  tackles that very question. As he points out at the very start, whatever the price bracket (be it under $1000 or well into five-figures), there are great watches to be found. And with those watches, it’s easier to see why a price jumps – complications are added in, or there’s a higher-grade movement in use. Or perhaps it’s even something as obvious as going from a steel case to one made of titanium or gold.


There’s also the unspoken world of markup, which exists for each and every item that hits retail. Heaton outlines that while we don’t have hard-and-fast numbers, that markup is at least 100%. But that number really only talks about the cost it takes to produce the watch (materials and labor), and doesn’t remotely include things that are rolled into overhead, such as marketing, facilities, and R&D. But whatever the price end up being, and the costs were, there’s a simple fact – if watches weren’t selling at the prices they sell for, they wouldn’t be marked at those prices.


In the end, though, when you get up into the higher-end watches (say, mid-four figures and up) these really are luxury items, and when anything gets that label, prices are set accordingly. As Heaton points out, while it would be nice to afford something like a JLC on modest salary, and if that was the case, those watches may lose some of that allure. It also gives you and I something to aspire to (if you want to, that is), to save up for and one day put that personal grail on our wrists.


The article (here) goes into much greater detail than I’ve covered here, so I definitely recommend you give it a read. And then let us know in the comments what you consider to be your own grail is that you hope to pick up some day.


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