Are You Crazy? You’d Pay How Much For A Watch?
by John Keil
Here is an entertaining little story about me, my Audemars Piguet Royal Oak, and a bunch of guys around a poker table – a story I’m sure many watch guys and gals can relate to.
I grew up in the perfect American household, in my opinion, in a suburban neighborhood on southeastern Long Island with the best family a guy could wish for.
Mom and Dad both worked hard to provide. We took regular vacations and spent a good part of the summer at Fire Island or on our modest boat. I played soccer.
Basically, I grew up living the life my wife and I work so hard to provide for our own children.
I tell you this to provide background and color to my story. Most of my friends and family are just like me . . . except for one thing: I will spend thousands of dollars on a nice watch.
About ten years ago I was playing $20 poker on a Thursday night at a friend’s house, a ritual we all looked forward to each week. I came straight from work, where I managed a high-end watch retail store and was wearing my Audemars Piguet Royal Oak chronograph in steel with a blue dial.
With eight guys around the table (four of whom I didn’t know well) and an hour into the game, Joe (one of the guys I didn’t know too well) said, “Hey, that’s a good looking watch!”
My friend Chris replied, “John is in the watch business. He’s always wearing something cool.”
Joe asked if I sold watches like the one I was wearing. I nodded in affirmation.
“Wait for it . . . wait for it . . .” I thought to myself.
“How much does something like that go for?” Joe asked the dreaded question no watch guy ever wants to hear unless surrounded by other watch guys.
Also for background and color: I live my life very under the radar. I don’t wear expensive watches so other people notice, I do it for myself. When other guys do notice, I instantly recognize them as a fellow watch guy, comrade, and facilitator.
“It’s expensive,” I replied.
“Like how much?” Joe asked.
“Between $1,000 and $1,500,” I lied.
My good buddy, watching the exchange, gave me a look that screamed, “You’re so full of it!”
Joe didn’t notice and replied, “Wow! That’s almost as much as a Rolex!”
I nodded in affirmation once again, folded the crummy cards in my poker hand, got up, and went into the kitchen to grab some beers for the guys, thankful that exchange was over.
However, Joe followed me into the kitchen and asked, “Hey, John, do you guys have financing or a layaway plan? Can I give you $250 a week until it’s paid off?”
Begrudgingly, I confessed to Joe that my watch retailed for $14,400 (this was in 2004) and asked him to keep it between us.
Joe and the guys wouldn’t shut up for the rest of the night about how much an “idiot” like me would pay for a watch!
I guess that’s why they call us Watch Idiot Savants.
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Where’s there story? Sorry, I was hoping for a bit more detail on how you justify such a purchase to yourself (I am with you here!) and maybe how you try to explain to the non-initiated how it is ultimatively worth it if you can afford it. I find myself doing this all the time, talking about value, craftsmanship, jewelry for men, etc. etc.
Andy nailed it. An interest in something means you spend more time and money on something than others would. That is the definition.
Great intro for a story that needs to be written. I’ve had the non watch enthusiast call me crazy numerous times for the cost of my watches. I’ve also had watch enthusiasts (who know exactly the cost of what I’m wearing) point out my watch and cost in a crowd of people just to hear/see the reaction (poor etiquette for any watch collector).
I hate when this happens !
I’m the ONLY guy in the circle of business and friends that has an expense watch. I understand totally and have even said the watch is a copy. As if I’d spend that much money on a watch. Get real!
I used this same tactic once and then my mate said “if it’s a copy, lend it to me to wear for a day or two… oh and obviously you don’t care if it gets scratches or dinged up a little?” ?
Yes I can relate to how I’m a common Joe working hard for my family like all those married souls around me except I spend money on watches while all those guys stare at me like I’m crazy.
I totally get you about the staying low key part. I wear my birth year 1984 Rolex datejust most of the time. It’s a great and durable watch no doubt but I’ve also been trying to avoid getting the wrong kind of attention. Nothing is worse than having your clients (especially those with good watch knowledge) spotting you wearing an extravagant watch thinking that’s where the service fee they paid were spent. I’d always like to leave an impression that I’m a solid person with feet firmly on ground without being flashy.
Anyways it’s when I wear things like a 5711 occasionally that’s when troubles come. I’m wearing it for my own pleasure but one of those guys in the friends group will be like “this chap owns watches like mad and his collection is enough to buy a house”. When you hear people say that you know they are about the value of watches way more than the watch itself. Not WIS at all.
People tends to pay for things they appreciate its value like houses, appartments, cars,.. for most people it goes like: I can tell the time just by a look at my smart phone. Non-watch guys, simply doesn’t see a value to spend much on a watch and to be honest, you can’t be poor and a watch guy at the same time.
I earn 16.75 an hour. You owe me $1.39 for the time I wasted reading this ridiculous “article”.
Give them an introductory lesson on the brand Greubel Forsey 😉
I have a collection of high end watches, Pateks, Jaegers, Langes, Breguet, Rolex, IWC, etc…. which I have amassed over 20 years. I run into the same kinds of comments from my friends who wear Seiko and Times watches. I explain that my watches are just another form of investment (mostly true) and is no difference than those who have purchased a Corvette or someone who buys a two family home. My wife and I will distribute our watches to our grown children and their spouses at the appropriate time. Some people can relate to that concept. With others, like those who play golf, I tell them I can’t relate to someone paying $500 for a driver, when you can buy a whole set of clubs for $300. Those who have an affinity for any item will long for the one they don’t have, its only human nature.
Please write episode 2. I thought the comments were part of the story…
I own Lange, Patek, Voutilainen, Gronefeld. When asked, I say I picked them up secondhand, for a fraction of retail. End of conversation.