Screw The Science And Buy Luxury Watches!
by John Keil
Waking up one morning with my coffee, I was scrolling through the headlines on Business Insider when I came across a post entitled “Science Says You Shouldn’t Buy Luxury Brands.” With all due respect to author Elizabeth Lang: I thought, screw science and buy luxury watches!
For 14 years I sold luxury watches in a retail environment. Each and every client had his or her reasons for spending $1,000 to $500,000 on a timepiece, but never once was science the reason for the purchase!
I’d sometimes hear, “Do I really need a $xx,xxx watch?” And l’d always reply, “You’re not in a need store.”
Psychology plays a huge part in the marketing, buying, and selling of a luxury watch. The truth is that when someone buys a luxury watch for him- or herself or as a gift, it makes them feel good, helps portray an image, or marks a special occasion.
So, here’s why I say screw science and buy luxury watches!
The feel-good reason (aka retail therapy)
According to a 2011 study published in the Journal of Psychology and Marketing, whether to lift spirits, offset stress, or simply attempt to take your mind to a better place, more than 62 percent of shoppers make purchases to “cheer themselves up.”
One of the most memorable examples of this from my time in retail was “Tom” (name changed to protect the guilty).
The first time I met Tom I honestly thought he was walking in the store to rob the place or to sell something that he’d stolen. Although he was a disheveled mess, I’d learned early on never to let on I’d judged someone by how they appear, so I greeted him as I would have greeted anyone else.
He stuck out his hand and introduced himself. “Hi, I’m Tom. I have $1,100 in my pocket. I just got my divorce settlement and have to pay my ex $6,000 per month. I lost my job. I need to spend what little money I have to make myself feel better.”
He admitted that it was quite possibly one of the dumbest things he could do, but he added that he was an attorney going to an interview and wanted to go into it feeling good about himself.
Tom got the job and he became a great client and friend.
The “hey, look at me” reason
Most of us (I’d argue all of us) desire at least some recognition for plopping down thousands of dollars on a watch. Quite often this is the sole reason for a luxury watch purchase and that is what obviously drives the replica market.
It is to say to anyone that passes you, “Yeah, that’s right, I’m successful.”
This isn’t to say throw on a bunch of gold chains, cover your $4,500 Breitling with aftermarket diamonds, and start a hip-hop production company. Most of the watch guys that are my friends don’t wear “common” luxury watches. They wear Blancpain, Glashütte Original, Jaeger-LeCoultre, or other brands that 95 percent of Americans have never heard of.
But they do love when a fellow watch nut notices and comments on their watches!
Another type of “hey, look at me” takes place in the business meeting or boardroom.
An accountant buddy of mine chooses his watch based on the meetings he has planned for the day.
If he needs the attendees to know he’s the man and knows his business, nothing says that more than a $40,000 watch that is recognizable to all.
For that special occasion reason
A watch can be the best purchase to mark a milestone or special occasion.
From Babe Ruth’s 1923 New York Yankees World Championship Pocket Watch to the TAG Heuer 6000 Series that I purchased for myself with my very first paycheck as an adult, I can’t imagine a better, longer lasting memento than a luxury watch.
A luxury watch purchased as a reminder of a special time will be a reminder of the occasion and/or a special relationship each and every time you look at your wrist.
It isn’t science!
Also published on Medium.