The Best Scale of Watch Pricing

In every industry there are three main price segments, and in my opinion three different executions of how to sell a product. Usually the budget to affordable segment, the premium segment, and the luxury segment. The watch world is the weirdest to define and place because by my definition any watch worn for fashion is a luxury, we all have phones and atomic timekeeping pretty much everywhere so we don’t need a time piece on our wrists. But if you will bear with me here, I disagree with most watch nerds here and I would like to propose my own sliding scale of price ranges.

Okay first a few disclaimers, everything stated here is just one little enbie’s opionion on a strictly unimportant topic. It’s also not a perfect scale, there are quite a few watch brands that walk the line between some of the landmarks on my scale here, I will talk about them when applicable. Like I said before, most of these watches are a luxury in themselves, just talk to any non watch enthusiast and the cheapest Timex might cost too much for them, and finally, it’s all a bit of fun don’t take this too seriously.

The budget and affordable section is a bit weird because I can only raise the budget part up to around $400 in good faith but with the affordable part of that, the price could rise up to around $800, so that $800 is what I’ll stick too. Now $800 is a lot of money for a watch, but in this segment usually you are still making a few sacrifices. From what I have seen there are three main downsides you can expect, with a notable honorable mention being sometimes watches in this price range have a quartz movement in them, which may be an important factor depending on what youre looking at. The first real thing that affordable watches could miss out on is the bracelet or strap, there are some exceptions but in general these components are cheaped out on, but it’s never been a big deal because usually the strap is so easily replaceable. Unique design is another thing you’ll miss out on here, again not always but there are many times where the watch you can get in this segment takes a little bit too much inspiration from someone else’s design. Finally you will usually miss out on the little touches and overall finishing, like everything else here it’s not a guarantee especially at the high end of this segment, but usually you will struggle to find a watch that is beautifully finished or with attention to detail. In summary the budget to affordable segement does the job as well as it can, but not in the nicest or fanciest way.

Now the premium segment is much easier to define, starting where affordability ends at $800, I would cap this segemnt at around $3000. As much as this is price range is fairly shallow, I think it fits. Here you don’t want any real sacrifices, sure you may not get a watch dial made of a last of its kind 1000 year old tree branch, but you do get all of the attention to detail you need. My favorite brands that are more permanantly in this segment are Farer and Christopher Ward, both with pleasing design languages that they can claim to be mostly their own (a difficult statement to make in todays watch industry) and overall good quality, sure I may have some problems with the execution of watches in this price range but overall you aren’t missing anything here. Where it gets tricky is with brands like Nomos, where you can get a surprising amount of their watches in this price range, but I can’t call them completely premium. Nomos is a luxury brand in execution because of their fancy and a bit wasteful packaging, and limited vibe they like to advertise. This segment is the end of reasonable diminishing returns, you can get the right amount of artfulness, but restraint that can keep the prices somewhat justifiable.

The true luxury segment honsetly pisses me off the most. Beginning at around $3000 dollars this is where the diminishing returns diminish too much, but you also get the most exclusive and fancy watch possible. That price point is a bit malleable but the watches aren’t. Here we see Omega, Nomos’ tippy top end of their ocllection, H. Moser & Cie, Rolex, etc. I don’t want to name every luxury brand here especially because these are the brands most people love, and I love to hate. these watches have the highest attention to detail with huge wasteful boxes made of rare woods and lined with expensive leathers, movements with rare metals and handsets that are made even rarer. It’s almost difficult to find a luxury watch that is sustainably made, or at least not made with leather of endangered species. I’m being a bit hyperbolic but luxury in itself has to be wasteful and unnecessary, and at prices up to $7000 I can still sort of justify buyng these watches but like, c’mon you can get cooler watches for easier to stmcach prices.

So there it is, my imperfect breakdown of watches, budget to luxury. There is a lot of nuance, like Nomos and a sometimes it can be a bit too broad, but this works for me. Watch prices are just weird especially with the inherent luxury of almost any watch. Luxury is only fun because it is wasteful, if they were more sustainable made I don’t think I would be as excited about them, premium is where I like to set my focus, and affordable is the easiest to stomach. But hey, with a little bit of wiggling this scale could be used for other more important industries, and isn’t that what’s most important?