To a person who is new to the wonderful world of luxury timepieces, it can be very confusing to be able to distinguish the difference between a designer timepiece vs a luxury timepiece, after all they’re both just expensive watches right? Not quite, and if you’re buying a luxury timepiece with the hopes of buying a timepiece that will retain its value over the long term, the difference is extremely important. In this article, we will discuss which brands are considered designer vs which are considered luxury, the similarities and differences of designer and luxury watches, and why luxury watches hold their value while designer watches do not.
Which Brands are Considered Designer vs Luxury
First off, we will discuss which brands are considered designer vs luxury. The easiest way for a person new to watches to understand what a designer is designer watches are mass produced and sold in retail stores and other traditional channels. Designer watches are similar to regular commercial watches, but they are more expensive and have name brands such as Gucci, Movado, Michael Kors, Louis Vuitton. Designer watches typically range anywhere from $100 dollars on the low end to $1000 dollars on the high end.
One of the problems with designer watches is the movements, which are usually cheap quartz movements that have no intrinsic value. A little known fact about designer watches is they are pretty much identical to regular watches, the only difference is the name brand. In other words, a $300 dollar Michael Kors watch is pretty much identical to a $20 dollar no-name watch, just with the name brand. Most people are usually pretty shocked that these designer companies mark up their products that much relative to the other no-name brands. In fact, if you tried to resell a $300 designer watch on the used market, you would probably be lucky to get $30, as that’s all the watch is really worth.
This is one reason why at Value Your Watch we strongly recommend against buying designer watches due to the fact that you’re literally only buying a name on a watch.
On the other hand, some examples of luxury timepieces are Omega, Breitling, Rolex, Panerai, Hublot, and Ulysse Nardin. There’s also some ultra-luxury timepieces such as rare Rolexes, rare Audemars Piguet, Richard Mille, and certain Patek Phillippe models; these models are the equivalent of hypercars in the car industry. We won’t get into the ultra-luxury timepieces in this article, but just know that they are extremely hard to get and cost north of $100k all the way up to $6.5 million.
The Similarities and Differences of Designer Watches vs Luxury Timepieces.
Next, we’ll shift gears and compare the similarities and differences of designer watches vs luxury timepieces. The first thing we’ll examine is the desire to wear a watch with a name brand. If one of your goals when wearing a watch is to try and show your social status, then both designer and luxury will both do that, although the luxury timepiece will obviously communicate a much higher social status than a designer watch. The important thing to remember here is if your goal is to use your watch to network with people more successful than you (this works better than most people realize), a designer watch will NOT do that for you. So from that perspective, you could view a luxury timepiece as an investment while a designer watch would strictly be a liability. The next area to look at is the quality of the movements in designer watches vs luxury timepieces. As mentioned earlier, most designer watches have a quartz movement, which means it is battery powered and therefore not valuable at all from a resale point of view.
Luxury timepieces however, come with automatic movements and are made from master watchmakers who have spent decades perfecting their craft. These automatic movements have intrinsic value and therefore hold their value really well as long as you buy the right brand and model at the right price. In fact, some luxury timepieces come with what’s called a tourbillon movement where the watch basically defies gravity and winds itself. Timepieces that come with a tourbillon movement usually start at $10k on the very low end with many being well into the $100k range. For the vast majority of people, the tourbillon movement will be out of their budget, so in this case, the automatic movement will be what you want to go after as it will still hold its value but can be picked up at a much more reasonable dollar in the $3k-$5k range.
The Production Numbers and Scarcity of Designer Watches vs Luxury Timepieces
The final area we will analyze is the production numbers and scarcity of designer watches vs luxury timepieces. In general, designer watches are made in a factory by machines and are mass produced. Designer watches can typically be purchased by any consumer at any normal outlet of distribution such as retail stores, online, ect. On the other hand, luxury timepieces are hand-made, and are made by a master craftsman who spends months toiling away building a masterpiece. Due to the fact that luxury timepieces are hand-made, production is obviously limited compared to a designer watch that is made on a conveyor belt.
Why Luxury Timepieces Hold Their Value While Designer Watches Depreciate All The Way Down To Zero
Finally, we’ll explain why
luxury timepieces hold their value while designer watches depreciate all the way down to zero like a normal car. The answer is what we talked about earlier, production values and scarcity, which is really just a function of supply and demand. It’s very simple, because designer watches are mass-produced, anyone can buy one. There’s no wait lines, no having to have a relationship with an authorized dealer, and no having to know resellers in the watch business if the dealers are all sold out. On the flip side, because luxury timepieces have limited production, which causes potential timepiece buyers to sometimes have to engage in the situations described above, and that luxury timepieces have intrinsic value, that is what causes luxury timepieces to hold their value so well vs their designer watch counter-parts. This at its core is the reason why luxury timepieces are so much of a better buy than a designer watch, even if the price tag is higher.
To conclude, we discussed which brands are considered luxury vs designer, the similarities and differences of the two types of watches, and finally why luxury timepieces hold their value but designer watches do not. With this information, now you too can confidently buy high-end timepieces that you know will retain their value vs wasting money on designer watches that are actually worth anything.
Until next time,
Matthew Thomas Pourroy
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