“Don’t watch the clock; do what it does. Keep going.” – Sam Levenson
At a meeting I had last week, it was interesting to find most attendees often taking not-so-quick glances at their smartwatches and frequently fiddling with them. It made me think, has the time come for luxury watches to say sayonara? You know the kind I’m talking about… those beautifully hand-crafted precision timepieces from Rolex, Patek Philippe, Audemars Piguet, and Omega.
The smartwatch trend brings me back to the 70s and early 80s Quartz Movement… remember the cheap Casio watch with a flashing LED time display that everyone had? At one point, it was hailed as a great technological advancement just like how the smartwatch is seen today.
But the idea that technology would deal a fatal blow to the luxury watch is almost laughable and simply hasn’t panned out.
And the best part, the primary function of a watch – to tell the time – has been rendered pretty much obsolete...Check out the facts:
Today, the global luxury watch is a $45 billion industry and is on target to reach $51 billion by 2027 (Does that sound like a failing industry to you?)
The top brands account for $15 billion (Rolex- $8B, Omega-$3.1B & Cartier-$3B)
In North America, over half of high-end buyers purchased a luxury watch within the past year with more than 25% making multiple purchases.
The United States is the largest market for luxury watches, followed by Hong Kong and China.
Visible elements: The visible elements of luxury watches are highly appealing to collectors and enthusiasts due to:
Quality - Luxury watches are made from high-quality materials including precious metals, diamonds, and exotic leathers. These materials add to the watch’s visual appeal as well as its durability and longevity.
Craftsmanship - Luxury watches often feature intricate and elaborate designs, with attention paid to every detail. From the shape of the case to the dial and the watch hands, every aspect of a luxury watch is carefully crafted to create a visually stunning timepiece.
Prestige -Luxury watch brands are associated with prestige, heritage, and exclusivity and are often seen as a symbol of success & status.
If we dig a bit deeper, consider the watches from the Big Three (Audemars Piguet, Patek Philippe, and Vacheron Constantin). Watches by any of these companies are in incredibly high demand and often come at price points well over $1 million. Just last month, at a recent Parisian auction--a Vacheron Constantin Kalista man’s watch sold for over $11 million!
Intangible Factors: Beyond the visible elements of a luxury watch, there are several intangible factors that make it a coveted item:
Heritage and History - Luxury watch brands have a rich history and heritage, dating back decades or even centuries.
Quality and Craftsmanship - The level of craftsmanship and precision is a constant source of fascination and admiration for collectors.
Rarity and Exclusivity - Brands often release limited edition models making them rare, exclusive & expensive.
Investment Potential - Vintage and limited-edition models have increased in value over time.
Emotional Attachment - Whether it's a sentimental connection or the sense of achievement and pride that comes with owning a high-end timepiece, there can be an intangible sense of satisfaction and fulfillment that comes with owning a luxury watch.
Social Factors: Finally, there are often social factors that make it a desired item. Luxury watches are seen as a symbol of success, taste, and wealth. Wearing a luxury watch can be a form of self-expression plus owning such a timepiece often is seen as a way to signal one's status and achievements. And, depending on the wearer’s social circles—it is often seen as a calling card in certain social circles.
In some industries or professions, wearing a luxury watch can be seen as a necessary accessory to signal professionalism and success. Plus, in many business circles, wearing a high-end watch can be a way to establish credibility and authority, cleverly implying a wearer's competence and attention to detail.
But do you need a luxury watch for success? For some verticals, it’s a “nice to have” and for others it’s a “mandatory" rite of passage representing achievement levels within a profession and in the business world. But it should not be viewed as a shortcut to success in business or life.
Timeless advice for business success:
Here are a few timeless pieces of advice that will set you up for success in business:
Focus on delivering value - Instead of focusing on luxury items as a means of impressing clients or partners, focus on delivering value through your business offerings. Develop a reputation for excellence and reliability and prioritize customer satisfaction above all else.
Be mindful of your brand image - While luxury items can sometimes play a role in creating a certain brand image, it's important to be mindful of how your brand is perceived by others. Make sure that your brand image is aligned with your values and goals as a business and avoid coming across as frivolous or ostentatious.
Be financially responsible - While it's important to invest in your business and pursue growth opportunities, it's also important to be financially responsible and avoid overspending on luxury items.
Stay humble and focused - Remember that true business success is not defined by material possessions, but by the impact you have on your industry, your customers, and your community.
In the end, luxury watches can be an enjoyable hobby for business owners, but they should not take precedence over sound business strategies and effective leadership.