01/23/2023
 3 minutes

From Moonswatch to Rolex – where does luxury really begin?

By Pascal Gehrlein
AP-Royal-Oak-Lady-2-1
You can find more reviews, how-to videos, talks, interviews, and other content related to luxury watches on our YouTube channel.

“Luxury” can mean many things. Whether defined as “costly, lavish indulgence in pleasure and enjoyment of comforts, greatly exceeding reasonable standards (of living)” or quite simply as “non-essential,” luxury – and hence luxury watches – can be understood and interpreted in different ways. Which objective criteria can help determine whether a brand is a luxury brand? Price? The number of pieces manufactured? Availability? Does the luxury sector begin with brands like Tissot and NOMOS? Or does the Swatch Moonswatch count as a luxury watch because it was so difficult to acquire? 

As you might expect, this approach is a great way to start an argument among watch lovers. But rather than argue with you, I’d like to explore the topic of luxury (watches) and luxurious moments in our day-to-day lives from a slightly different, more subjective angle. 

 

From brand name and materials to technical sophistication – many elements can make a watch a luxury timepiece.
From brand name and materials to technical sophistication – many elements can make a watch a luxury timepiece.

Rolex or bust? The Luxury of Luxury Watches 

Time is scarce – and watches are not just there to measure it and remind us how precious a commodity it is. You can also spend a lot of time with watches, learning about the technology that makes them tick, as well as the history of individual watch brands and models.  

I’m pretty sure that everyone has their own opinion about which brand embodies luxury. I would also add that there are different aspects among individual brands and models that put the “luxury” in a luxury watch. In the case of the Rolex Day-Date, I find luxury in the history of the watch and those who have worn it. For me, it’s the prestige that makes it a luxury watch. By contrast, the luxury of a Grand Seiko lies in the brand’s incredible in-house manufacturing, detail-oriented finishing, and simplicity of design. With Audemars Piguet, the luxury comes from the watch’s rarity, but also from its pioneer status as the watch with which Gérald Genta established the category of the steel sports watch. Jaeger LeCoultre, on the other hand, creates luxury by building incredibly complex and beautiful movements, like that of the Reverso Hybris Mechanica. 

 

Grand Seiko Spring Drive Snowflake 
Grand Seiko Spring Drive Snowflake

 

Luxury Means Slowing Down and Relishing the Romance of Consumption 

Recently, I’ve been looking into Cartier timepieces. Once my interest is piqued, it’s easy to spend a lot of time researching and hunting for a watch. Blogs, online marketplaces like Chrono24, and social media have made the luxury of an extensive search accessible to all. These tools allow me to occasionally escape the stress of work and “kill” time doing something I enjoy. 

If I’m ultimately able to wear the watch I’ve spent so many hours thinking about and searching for, I’ve come full circle. The brief moment it takes to glance down at my wrist and read the time is an act of focus and deceleration. In that split second, I remember what the watch means to me: a professional achievement, or perhaps simply the time I spent learning about the history of the watch and finding the piece that would ultimately become mine. A luxury watch is something special; you want to take your time with it. 

Cartier Tank
Cartier Tank

  

The Romantic Value of a Luxury Watch 

Faster, higher, farther: this motto permeates so many aspects of contemporary society that it can be hard to escape. But what are we actually trying to achieve? A collection of Rolex Daytonas in every variety? A Ferrari in the carport? A villa on the Côte d’Azur? It’s only natural to imagine the material things and experiences we would no doubt properly savor, if and when we finally obtain them.  

But, in my opinion, we don’t have to save luxury moments for some far-off future – nor do we need to expend an ever-increasing amount of time and effort to attain them. We can seek out luxury in something as simple as time itself. Luxury can be taking the time to dwell on something or lose yourself in something. Luxury can be the time spent hunting for your grail watch or reveling in the details on the dial of a favorite timepiece.  

Of course, this is just one, entirely subjective take on luxury watches through the eyes of an enthusiast. For me, a watch is both an “everyday” and a luxurious object. It signifies permanence and focus, which is my personal definition of “luxury.” What does luxury mean to you? 


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About the Author

Pascal Gehrlein

Hi, I'm Pascal. After spending many hours searching for my first luxury watch on Chrono24, I ended up visiting their "Legal details" page and saw their headquarters …

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