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In the world of high-end luxury accessories, there is no question that men have gotten a bit of a raw deal. Their sartorial means of expression are limited: a quirky patterned tie, a colorful suit lining, or perhaps a pair of bespoke shoes. Meanwhile, favorite accessories of the past, like cufflinks, have started to fade from view or gone downmarket, as in hats that have morphed into baseball caps. But there is one accessory that has become as vital to men as having the right handbag is to women: the wristwatch.
Each watch is totally unique, the ultimate statement of prestige and status. It is a badge of honor, it shows you have arrived.
In a world gone mad for iPods and mobile phones that flash the time as well as take pictures and play music, it might seem that the days of the wristwatch are numbered. In 2005, sales of watches priced between $30 and $150 declined by more than 10 percent from 2004.
But the luxury wristwatch, meanwhile, has evolved and transformed itself. It is not so much about telling time anymore. You have the time all around you, in your car, on your computer and at your office. It is all about self-expression.
In 2002, Louis Vuitton launched its first watch, the Tourbillon Tambour, which truly tests the idea of luxury self-expression. The watch can be personalized to incorporate the initials of the owner onto its face. Prices start at $178,000. The watch takes six to eight months to produce and the company has been averaging one watch a month since it’s launch.
This kind of personalization – choosing the types of watch bands, face color, the inclusion of precious stones or diamonds – have all helped to transform the wristwatch into something more. It is now a modern piece of jewelry. And many well-heeled men own at least four or five, each bought, like a handbag, for a specific purpose (office, weekend, social functions and sports).
The watch can also be a subtle means to announce social status since on can’t bring a Porsche Cayenne or Lamborghini to an office meeting or to a business dinner. A quick glance at a person’s watch can reveal as much about the man as his handshake.
People that collect watches are all fascinating people. Watches capture people’s attention and start conversations. It is a great talking point for people who have everything. And talk they do. Not unlike knowing all the sports statistics by heart for a favorite sports team, luxury watch fans love to know all the bells and whistles their watch offers. They love to talk about all the complications included on their watches.
Recently, the Luxury Institute, a research company that examines the spending habits of the top 10 percent of the wealthiest Americans, announced the results of a study to determine the hottest ultra-luxury watch brands by tabulating the four key factors that come into play when buying an ultra-luxury watch: quality, exclusivity, status and that ever elusive cachet of making the buyer feel special. At the top of the list was the niche label Franck Muller , followed closely by Patek Philippe and Harry Winston. For the mega-millionaires, the Franck Muller brand is best able to make consumers feel special across the entire customer experience.
There is no doubt that the future of the luxury watch industry is secure. We are in a time of the most extraordinary growth of wealth, and when people make that first million, what they do first is go out and purchase an exquisite watch.
write by johnson