The Times They are a’changin. Wrist watches made pocket watches obsolete in the 19th Century, now many are wondering whether smartphones could sound the death knell for the piece of art that people usually wear on their wrists.
One thing for sure, the watch is no longer the indispensable time keeper we used to rely on.
These days, time is displayed on the phone, on the car’s dashboard on the television set, on lap tops and computers.
Meanwhile, watch technology has made huge leaps for a watch does not merely tell time, it is able to read one’s blood pressure, oxygen level, heart beat and define the quality of sleep. Besides, watches also have calendars, calculators and compasses and will notify the wearer of incoming phone calls and emails. One can even reply to messages using speech-to-text capability.
Some watches are customized for the wearer’s use and are worn for their utility. We can think of a pilot’s watch which includes tachymeters, altimeters, compasses and may carry a slide rule bezel to help make calculations. As well there are field watches for the military which have the ability to withstand water, dirt, sand or sports watches for sailing, racing, hiking and mountaineering.
Does this mean that classic dress watches are no longer ‘in’?
A resounding No. The rich and famous continue to splurge on luxury watches. There are still those who crave the sleek, visually appealing and intricately designed time pieces which perform with precision.
Top ten watches for 2020
We checked out the top ten watches for 2020 and the number ten slot is occupied by Vacheron Constantin 57260, a watch which retails for a cool US$8 million, while sitting at the top of the heap was the stunning Graff Hallucination priced at US$55 million. What does it have you may wonder –for a start, rare coloured diamonds with a total of 110 carats.
Number two was another Graff creation priced at US$40 million. The list included Rolex, Patek Phillipe, Chopard and Jaeger. These watches are made of precious metals and jewels, they feature high-end movements and hand crafting -square, round, heart-shaped, marquise or diamond, the choices are legion.
Some luxury watches are made in limited numbers or are special editions and sold in exclusive retail settings, becoming coveted collectors’ items and may be passed down through generations.
Notwithstanding the mega-price tag on some of the brands mentioned, the name Rolex has a certain allure especially for men. Joan Briton, sales representative at Swiss Stores says the Rolex remains king as a status symbol.
Swiss Stores pioneered Rolex in the Caribbean. As told by founder Peter Bangerter, up until 1967, Swiss Stores was a division of the Rum Company of Jamaica. In 1934, on a train trip from Zurich to Geneva, the owner of the Rum Company Swisss-born Rudolph Wackerlin sat across from Hans Wisldorf who convinced him to sell his watches in Jamaica. Thus, the first Rolex watches were sold in Jamaica before the store was even established.
Swiss Stores stopped carrying Rolex models in 2017 but that hasn’t stopped potential customers from calling with enquiries, said Ms. Britton, who has worked with the jewelry store for 16 years.
“Absolutely they are still into it, especially the men. To men, watches are like handbags and shoes to ladies. Men love their watches. It’s part of their signature. It’s not only the expense, but it adds to their personality. Some men, if they are not wearing a Rolex they don’t feel complete.”
“Surprisingly, a man will own more than one Rolex. I know right now men who are in their sixties owning five Rolexes. It’s like a car. Every new one comes out they want it. As women want the new bag and the new shoes, so do men want a Rolex, even if they don’t own a home yet.”
As outlined on Rolex website, “The history of Rolex is inextricably linked to the visionary spirit of Hans Wilsdorf, its founder. In 1905, at the age of 24, Hans Wilsdorf founded a company in London specialising in the distribution of timepieces. He began to dream of a watch worn on the wrist. Wristwatches were not very precise at the time, but Hans Wilsdorf foresaw that they could become not only elegant, but also reliable.”
To get a new edition Rolex today, one must be prepared to wait in line. These high end watches retail for anywhere between US$20,000 and US$17.8 million for the Paul Newman Rolex Daytona. A Rolex watch tells a story about the wearer and marks him as one who has “made it”.
Not long ago, in some social settings, individuals measured social status and wealth by what was displayed on wrist. However, today a high net-worth individual may have expensive watches tucked away in his safety deposit box and wears a US$500.00 Apple watch.
The days of the watch as a pricey time-piece and a must-have status symbol may soon be over.
To put things into perspective someone said recently: “Boys look at their phones to check the time – men look at their watches.”
Fun Sale Facts: As of 2020 Apple sold more than 100 million watches. In 2019 apple sold about 31 percent more watches than the Swiss watch makers, a whopping 31 million units !