Friday, 3 December 2010

Why spend thousands on a watch?

My philosophy about watches has always been pretty simple. If it looks good, is affordable and tells the time accurately it's fine. Others disagree and I've always wondered why people spend thousands - sometimes tens of thousands on a watch.

Watchmaker Bulova has recently released the limited edition Spaceview (pictured), which will set you back £3000 or so. I'm delighted to welcome Gordon Dickens, general manager at Bulova, as a guest blogger offering some insight into why this sort of price - others in the range come in at just under £1000 - is considered worthwhile. Anyone wanting to buy me one for Christmas is welcome...

Spaceview watch from the Accutron range by Bulova
Watch purchases are driven by passion – but they are rarely an impulse buy.  Most watch purchases follow a period of research among watch retailers, friends, or fellow enthusiasts.
Although recent research [Mintel, 2010[1]] claims that the majority of people are no longer wearing watches, preferring instead to use another technological medium such as a mobile phone to keep track of time, the luxury watch industry is going from strength to strength and the Bulova Monitor[2] identified that 63% of survey participants still wear a watch every day. 
The Bulova Monitor found that appearance drives watch selection with 60% of respondents saying that watch appearance is the main factor in their purchase decision.  Watches are often regarded as jewellery or as collectible works of art rather than just a method of timekeeping. The watch market ranges from affordable yet accurate watches with electronic movements - intended solely for telling the correct time, to extremely expensive luxury watches that serve mainly as personal adornment or as a demonstration of high achievement, complete with precision mechanical engineering.
Those in the know are aware that although what a watch looks like is very important it's actually what's on the inside that counts - the all important movements.  Traditionally, Swiss watchmakers set the standard for quality, especially for mechanical movements; however, since the 1980s, Japanese-made movements have arguably caught up to their Swiss counterparts in terms of quality. Those who appreciate the European tradition of constructing exquisite timekeeping devices may have a preference for fine watches with mechanical movements, as well-built mechanical watches can often last for generations.
Watch purchases are motivated by desire rather than need.  According to the results of the Bulova Monitor, impulse purchases account for only 23% of watch purchases.  Many people justify a luxury watch purchase through the reason of ‘rewarding themselves’.
About Bulova:
Bulova has a rich heritage of 135 years of timekeeping experience including Bulova’s landmark technology - Accutron clocks and timers were used by NASA from 1959 through the early 70’s in satellites and manned-spacecraft during the Space race.  

[2] Throughout 2009, Bulova conducted comprehensive research and created the Bulova Monitor to obtain information on purchase decisions (sample size 1,424 consumers).

My thanks to Grace Zeal of Ogilvy PR for organising this guest blog.


  1. When I was 22 i really wanted a Cartier Santos that i saw someone wearing, but it was £1500!! That same week I had to have my tonsils out, which at that 'age' is deemed a semi-sensible operation and my best friends dad died suddenly at 49.

    So I thought f**** it, maxed out my credit card and bought it! I still wear the same watch some 13 years later and don't intend to own another watch...

  2. Yes, durability is certainly a major point. I've never owned a watch for that long but then the current crop are the only ones I'd identify as 'keepers' anyway - we'll see how long they actually last.

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  4. In an age when consumption is putting the planet at risk. In an age when the gap between the rich and poor is disgusting spending thousands on a watch is disgusting


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