...the cost of R&D, gems and materials used, and the extreme attention to detail paid to every facet of production are often what defines a luxury item. Whereas these days we’ve placed more emphasis on speed and efficiency in many things — driven by automation — prestige watch companies continue to rely on the steady hands of artisans who have had to train for almost a decade before they can start producing items.*
Limited quantities make for high costs
When Rolex put its Daytona back on the market in 1991, after three years of having none for sale, the waiting list grew to six years for those seeking to add one to their collection.
Needless to say, premium watch brands rely on ensuring supply never meets demand. This isn’t only because the more intricate the item, the longer it takes to make, but also because it adds to the idea that a person is making a luxury purchase.
Luxury = expensive
Watches used to be a utilitarian tool. But over time, the advent and mass adoption of the cell phone has caused a shift in perception. Today they’re seen every bit as much an amenity as a diamond ring. Rather than have their products remain a tool for the masses, many brands have embraced the notion that a watch is a gift you buy for yourself.
When a brand can evoke “luxury” with the mere mention of its name, it takes it as a license to raise prices. After all, you’re now not only buying into a company’s R&D, you’re also buying the acclaim that comes with other people knowing what’s on your wrist.
Many times the intricate designs and the use of diamonds and gemstones can elevate the prices to astronomical. Take the venerable house of Breguet and its aptly named 2015 design, Be Crazy. The culmination of its flower series. Featuring an 18 karat gold body with over 70 carats of 1,000 iridescent baguette-cut diamonds arranged as petals staggered in rows that gently curl around the wrist, the bloom-like timepiece simply stuns. Not to mention, in the center of it all is an ovoid dial with remarkable radial paving, an homage to the Queen of Naples. (After all, it was her majesty who had commissioned Abraham-Louis Breguet to conceive the world’s first wristwatch for her delicate wrist in 1810).
Though obviously a design tour de force, Be Crazy still is a true Breguet: underneath all of the shimmering diamonds is the house’s legendary in-house Caliber 586 and an engine-turned platinum rotor.
Though not yet a legacy brand, Jacob & Co. also continues to impress. With the help of a loyal roster of rap icons—Jay Z, Pharrell Williams, Kanye West, among others—Jacob Arabo made the diamond watch a hip-hop style staple. Always a trendsetter, “Jacob the Jeweler” loves to adorn his already over-the-top designs with colored diamonds… A lot of colored diamonds.
His extravagant Millionaire watch features 276 natural yellow diamonds with a total weight of 127.45 carats. Of course, the design plays baby brother to Jacob & Co.’s Billionaire watch, which boxing champion Floyd Mayweather purchased for $18 million in 2018. This amazing timepiece is one of the most expensive watches in the world,
The top 10 most expensive watches in the world
As of 2020, these are the most expensive watches in the world, Prices ranging from number 10 on the list at $8 million to number 1 on the list at $55 million. The oldest watch is number 6, created in 1913.
- The Graff Diamonds Hallucination
- The Graff Diamonds’ Fascination
- The Breguet 1160
- Jaeger-LeCoultre Joaillerie 101 Manchette
- Chopard 210 Carat Watch
- Patek Philippe Supercomplication
- Jacob & Co. Billionaire Watch
- Paul Newman’s Rolex Daytona
- Patek Philippe 1518
- Vacheron Constantin 57260
Have your cake and eat it too
If you are a lover of luxury timepieces as we are, we have great news. Covett is now offering luxury timepieces through our partner, Backes & Strauss; a British luxury timepiece creator with 230 years of heritage and unparalleled craftsmanship in diamonds. Backes & Strauss is part of the Franck Muller Group, a Swiss watchmaking company daring to imagine the future of precision Swiss horology. This partnership is a meeting of masters, resulting in masterpieces of horology in every detail. This means you can have the luxury you covet but own and access it in an innovative and savvy way with Covett.
To learn more about what drives the high cost of luxury timepieces, visit Highsnobiety.