Watches

A sign of good taste and sagacitySince I don’t wear a watch, I can’t say with any certainty that one brand is better than another. (I don’t wear any jewelry, especially the kind that would remind me on a constant basis that I’m creeping inexorably toward death.) So if I’m completely out of line here, forgive me.

It seems to me, though, that in our technologically advanced age, when appliances get better and cheaper simultaneously, watches tell time with virtually the same level of accuracy.

One brand might be a millionth of a second more precise. But aside from rocket scientists, who cares?

Thus – and, again, I could be totally missing something here – there’s no functional reason to purchase anything but the cheapest time-telling device that suits your aesthetic requirements.

This last bit, apparently, is the reason why “luxury” watches cost tens of thousands of dollars more than supermarket watches. Even if a Rolex performed 10 times more accurately than a $10 Made in China model — and I don’t see how it could — based on time-telling alone, the Rolex ought to cost ten times as much ($100). The reason people plunk down $30,000 and more for watches must be because their aesthetic sensibilities are so heightened that nothing but gold, diamonds, and weapons-grade titanium will suffice upon their easily offended wrist.chinese-vendor-fake-watches-small

I can understand this. People with extremely refined artistic tastes — like Anna Kournikova and Sergio Garcia and Cindy Crawford – “choose” a particular brand. Other aesthetes – like Tiger Woods, Pierce Brosnan, and dozens of Las Vegas gamblers I know – require another brand. I myself am not discriminating enough to tell the difference between a Patek-Phillipe and an Omega. But, then again, I’m the kind of senseless boob who, if the writing were scraped off a golf ball, couldn’t tell the difference between a Titleist and a Maxfli. Which is why if I owned a watch, I should probably have a cheap one. Clearly, fabulous wealth breeds fabulous taste, and until I get the former I oughtn’t pretend I possess the latter.

Still, I can’t help wondering: If the writing were scraped off the dial (or wherever they inscribe the brand name), could Anna and Cindy and Tiger tell the difference between a cheap knock-off and the real thing? (OK, bad example. They’re celebrities; of course they can.) Better example: Could my Vegas gambler buddies? Sure, they spend most of their waking hours sitting in casino card rooms and talking about sports. But they are wealthy. So they’ve got that going for them.

Money porn magazines, like The Robb Report, regularly devote dozens of pages to highly detailed roundups of the latest offerings from high-end watchmakers– all of whom, in one of those astonishing coincidences that make you exclaim “what are the odds of that?!” are also advertisers. Just the other day I was leafing through a golf magazine — one that doesn’t waste time with the un-moneyed masses but covers only the best (which I know, because the editor says so in each of his front-of-the-book notes) — and it had a feature on the Best watches. It was written by a fellow whose name I often see in The New Yorker, so surely he must know of what he speaks. Unfortunately, given my density in elevated matters such as these, I couldn’t decipher the article.

Expensive watches must be demonstrably better than cheap ones. They’ve got to be. Otherwise important people wouldn’t allow them on their important bodies. I just hope one day I’m smart enough to understand why.

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