[AUTOMATIC WATCHES] Expensive old tech: bad power reserve, no perpetual calendar, low accuracy
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  1. #1
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    Thumbs Down [AUTOMATIC WATCHES] Expensive old tech: bad power reserve, no perpetual calendar, low accuracy

    There are always exceptions, and you can find automatic watches with a 10 day power reserve, perpetual calendar, and good accuracy in some models of premium brands like Patek Philippe, IWC, etc. Generally, these models are quite expensive, sold as rare complications or among the best watches of each brand.

    The way I see it, there is not really any improvement to justify yearly price rises (or each 6 months like Rolex does). You can name Spring-Drive (if you consider it automatic), Co-Axial escapement, and other minor innovations. And yet, most automatic watches around $5000 still have a 3 day power reserve, force you to manually change the date, and the accuracy is not so good.

    But they look really good and they are better finished than the cheaper ones. The problem is, I should expect a much better reserve, calendar and accuracy from a $5000 Rolex than from a $500 Seiko. Because the most important thing about a watch is the watch function, not the case. A Ferrari is expected to look really good but to perform accordingly too. It would be crazy to pay for a todays Ferrari that performs like a 50 year old one, just because it looks good outside.

    I don't really understand why expensive watches do not offer these "premium" features by default, something that with todays technology should be mandatory. A 50 year old Ferrari was really fast and great for its time, and you paid for that. Why do horology aficionados think is ok to pay that much for 50 year old tech? If you are going to collect old stuff try to get the original old piece, as a Ferrari collector would do.

    TLDR: Automatic watch industry is technologically dead, but it seems ok for everybody to pay outrageous amounts of money -conveniently rising each year- for it. Marketing for minor improvements makes possible for buyers to focus discussions justifying what they pay, instead of questioning why they shouldn't get much more for their money.
    Last edited by Veole; October 4th, 2012 at 21:12.
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    Re: [AUTOMATIC WATCHES] Expensive old tech: bad power reserve, no perpetual calendar, low accuracy

    I'm going to get some popcorn.

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    Re: [AUTOMATIC WATCHES] Expensive old tech: bad power reserve, no perpetual calendar, low accuracy

    Quote Originally Posted by Veole View Post
    And yet, most automatic watches around $5000 still..... make you change the date
    They do what ?!?


    Here you go Marchone:

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    Re: [AUTOMATIC WATCHES] Expensive old tech: bad power reserve, no perpetual calendar, low accuracy

    I'm sorry. You're mistaking Veblen goods for commodities.

    Perfect time all the time is now so easy it can be afforded by anyone.

    Getting into the 'club' of enthusiasts for fragile, inaccurate little gearboxes built by people with funny accents and square-framed glasses - now THAT is worth real money.
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    Re: [AUTOMATIC WATCHES] Expensive old tech: bad power reserve, no perpetual calendar, low accuracy

    You're approaching the whole thing from a strictly utilitarian perspective. That's not all there is to life. Some people like the oldworld tech. Some people enjoy the anachronism of knowing that a strictly mechanical device is monitoring the time.

    This also explains classic cars. You either get it or you don't. No one here can explain it to you with sufficient logic to make you change your mind.
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    Re: [AUTOMATIC WATCHES] Expensive old tech: bad power reserve, no perpetual calendar, low accuracy

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    Influence is like the wind...

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    Re: [AUTOMATIC WATCHES] Expensive old tech: bad power reserve, no perpetual calendar, low accuracy

    Just as an aside, this year the 6R15C is trickling out in $500ish Seikos, and it actually has a 10 hour longer power reserve than the Rolex 3135 (60 hours).

    I would like to see more complications on affordable watches like Rolex and Omega. But the magic isn't with complications. The hard part is in keeping them accurate. I wouldn't personally think of co-axial and spring drive as minor innovations, but radical revisions on how a watch keeps time. There are many other developments that are less noteworthy. Seiko's spron, Rolex's parachrom bleu, Omega's SI14 hairsprings. JLC and Omega's ceramic ball bearing mounted rotors. Rolex's parashock, Seiko's MEMS manufactured parts and so on.

    I think the primary difference is, then, that you're judging the quality of a watch by complications instead of by time keeping. Although most good Swiss watches still come adorned with COSC, internally, they may be more accurate than the rating (both your individual watch and the company's standards) and GS, Nomos, JLC, Patek and others have publicly tighter standards.

    As per why horological tech develops rather slowly, I think it's two reasons: first, it's a very old field compared to cars or computers, with much of its innovation accomplished in the 18th and 19th centuries, and perhaps more importantly, two, that the field is considered obsolete and unnecessary. Were we to be in the 1950s where clocks were not in every single room, we didn't have cell phones or computers with the time on it, and $100 quartz super time keepers didn't exist, I think we'd see a really big push towards super high performance movements, perhaps radically better than what does exist today. But we don't.

    So that's the why insofar as the watches themselves. In regards to pricing, I think the mistake made is in tying watch prices to watch performance. For the vast majority of Rolex and Omega buyers (perhaps other brands too) the watch is insignificant. The important thing is that you can proudly display your superiority on your wrist. Most luxury brands, even ones that make better watches than these, want that slice of the prestige pie, and tie their prices relative to Rolex.
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    Re: [AUTOMATIC WATCHES] Expensive old tech: bad power reserve, no perpetual calendar, low accuracy

    Doesn't the fact that people are paying the money suggest that on some level these watches must be worth what they cost?
    Last edited by Likestheshiny; October 7th, 2012 at 17:01.
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    [QUOTE=CitizenM;5520184]Just as an aside, this year the 6R15C is trickling out in $500ish Seikos, and it actually has a 10 hour longer power reserve than the Rolex 3135 (60 hours).

    Which ones ?




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    Re: [AUTOMATIC WATCHES] Expensive old tech: bad power reserve, no perpetual calendar, low accuracy

    TheWalrus: My approach is utilitarian because as akasnowmaaan said, expensive watches are Veblen goods. We all know that their price is higher than their value, and that if you want a cheap quartz you have perpetual calendar, 10 years battery, and very good accuracy.

    But focusing only in the automatic industry, if there's always been improvements through the years, I don't understand why we are not getting any real improvements in the last decades. Especially the ones I named that could be implemented in most watches. Great complications and rare models will always exist.

    Is there any point in purposely avoid to improve automatic watches in such basic functions? Would they be considered less automatic with a better power reserve, perpetual calendar and higher accuracy? Because I thought automatic does not equal to obsolete stuff sold at a expensive price, just a traditional way to do watches. And this traditional way always included progress too.... until now.
    Last edited by Veole; October 4th, 2012 at 21:17.

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