How much before an affordable is comparable to more expensive watches
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  1. #1
    Member mrsamsa's Avatar
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    How much before an affordable is comparable to more expensive watches

    This may have been asked before, but how much do you have to spend before an affordable is comparable to a more expensive watch?

    I know a Parnis is not going to compare to a Rolex or an IWC, but does a Stowa or a Steinhart?

    What more do you get for your money going from a Stowa to an IWC?
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    Member Fullers1845's Avatar
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    Re: How much before an affordable is comparable to more expensive watches

    There are two ways to answer this question. (And I do so having owned a Rolex and now a Tudor Submariner as well as *many* affordable homages to the same.)

    1. There is no comparison between a Rolex and a Steinhart other than looks; they are both made of stainless steel; have an automatic movement; and can tell time.

    2. Having said that, there are many excellent, affordably priced watches (such as Steinhart, Debaufre, Sandoz, Seiko, and Orient) that look similar to much more expensive pieces, and are outstanding watches in their own right.

    People can talk all they want about marketing hype and premiums charged for brand name recognition, but it really is unfair to compare the materials and engineering of a Rolex Sub to a similar looking watch from Steinhart or Sandoz. Apples to oranges, IMO. YMMV.
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    Member Perseus's Avatar
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    Re: How much before an affordable is comparable to more expensive watches

    Good question...I don't own anything over 1k so I can't say definitely. I have friends who own Rolex and Omega and I've handled and admired them, but I can't say I personally thought they were substantially superior to my current favorite the Dievas Vortex. I understand the high end brands come with goodies like ceramic bezels and such however, if I could have handled them without any thought given to the name on the dial I don't think I'd ever believe their value was 5-10x greater than the Vortex even though the cost is that much greater.

    That's not to say I don't admire and appreciate some of the higher end brands but currently their are so many things in life that have a higher priority to me financially than a 5-10k watch.

  4. #4
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    Re: How much before an affordable is comparable to more expensive watches

    With all watches above a certain point, there are diminishing returns for what you spend. If, for you, that point is time-telling, then a $10 basic Casio is 99% as good as the most expensive watch you can find, and you will pay a lot for that 1% to move to a HEQ quartz.

    If you are talking about mechanical watches, and your criteria are look, feel and accuracy, I think the real tipping point in the ones I've seen is with Orient's $100-$300 watches. You hold one and and a $700-$4,000 Swiss watch, and both feel hefty and well made. Both have excellent finishing and the dials have elements that pop. On the more expensive end of that Swiss range, you will find some finish differences if you look closely enough, but you will have to really look for them.

    With some of the smaller Swiss boutique brands, like Steinhart, CW and dive watches like Dievas, they can look better than many famous Swiss watches because they have unique case designs and finishes that you normally only see at much higher levels from the big name brands.
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  5. #5
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    Re: How much before an affordable is comparable to more expensive watches

    Quote Originally Posted by ckot View Post
    With all watches above a certain point, there are diminishing returns for what you spend. If, for you, that point is time-telling, then a $10 basic Casio is 99% as good as the most expensive watch you can find, and you will pay a lot for that 1% to move to a HEQ quartz.

    If you are talking about mechanical watches, and your criteria are look, feel and accuracy, I think the real tipping point in the ones I've seen is with Orient's $100-$300 watches. You hold one and and a $700-$4,000 Swiss watch, and both feel hefty and well made. Both have excellent finishing and the dials have elements that pop. On the more expensive end of that Swiss range, you will find some finish differences if you look closely enough, but you will have to really look for them.

    With some of the smaller Swiss boutique brands, like Steinhart, CW and dive watches like Dievas, they can look better than many famous Swiss watches because they have unique case designs and finishes that you normally only see at much higher levels from the big name brands.
    I definitely agree with the quality of higher end Orients. The only thing that I feel is lacking from the Orients is the movements in the clear caseback watches. The movements are a bit plain and it really wouldn't be that much to have the movements decorated a bit more and have blued screws. Even the cheapo chinese watches try to make their movements look more pretty.
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    Member skywatch's Avatar
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    Re: How much before an affordable is comparable to more expensive watches

    (Sorry, waxing philosophical for a moment):

    A quote comes to mind that I have heard relating to audiophile equipment: "You get 90% of the functionality from the first 10% of expense. For the remaining 10% of improved quality, you pay the extra 90%." Perfection is an asymptotic approach, not a destination, and many people chase an elusive dream of highest quality and spend a lot of money for that.

    It's a choice we make, to set aside a certain amount of extra cash to pursue such luxuries, and a choice we make to set personal limits of what is "good enough... for now." For the high end watches one gets more than just performance or detail, one gets a certain caché that will matter more to some people than others, and I would not deny them that pleasure. For me personally, as the slippery slope gets steeper and the returns begin to diminish, I am quite satisfied to step off the ramp and view from the sidelines! At which price point that happens is totally a personal choice. For me it stopped at around $1500 (for a used $3000 watch) but ironically, I get as much pleasure from some of my $200-400 watches as from the precious queen.

    As an aside, did you ever read "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance?" It's a very lucid meditation on the search for "quality".
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  7. #7
    Member IanC's Avatar
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    Re: How much before an affordable is comparable to more expensive watches

    Most people cant tell the difference between a $100 watch and a $1000 one, assuming of course that they look about the same. In the end most watches use the same SS case, and the main part where quality matters is the movement itself(and only for mechanicals)...and theres no way a $1000 watch keeps time 10 times better than a $100 one.

  8. #8
    Member ochavez's Avatar
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    Re: How much before an affordable is comparable to more expensive watches

    I agree 100% percent.

    It is all up to you and only you to know how much is enough. I am personally battling if spending 3K is really going to give me a "better" watch.

    Quote Originally Posted by skywatch View Post
    (Sorry, waxing philosophical for a moment):

    A quote comes to mind that I have heard relating to audiophile equipment: "You get 90% of the functionality from the first 10% of expense. For the remaining 10% of improved quality, you pay the extra 90%." Perfection is an asymptotic approach, not a destination, and many people chase an elusive dream of highest quality and spend a lot of money for that.

    It's a choice we make, to set aside a certain amount of extra cash to pursue such luxuries, and a choice we make to set personal limits of what is "good enough... for now." For the high end watches one gets more than just performance or detail, one gets a certain caché that will matter more to some people than others, and I would not deny them that pleasure. For me personally, as the slippery slope gets steeper and the returns begin to diminish, I am quite satisfied to step off the ramp and view from the sidelines! At which price point that happens is totally a personal choice. For me it stopped at around $1500 (for a used $3000 watch) but ironically, I get as much pleasure from some of my $200-400 watches as from the precious queen.

    As an aside, did you ever read "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance?" It's a very lucid meditation on the search for "quality".
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  9. #9
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    Re: How much before an affordable is comparable to more expensive watches

    Depends what you mean by comparable I guess. Quality & fit and finish...I think it's closer than price differences suggest. Then there's the level of complication...which of course demand a higher premium.

    All in all, watches are really luxury pieces no matter the price point. For a while I used to get mad that how much prices varied for watches with the same movement (ETA 2824, 6498..etc) But like I said...since they're luxury pieces, you have to pay for the name as well.

    It all works out for me though, I can appreciate the "affordable" watches while still lusting towards the high end.

  10. #10
    Member midshipman01's Avatar
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    Re: How much before an affordable is comparable to more expensive watches

    I also think it really depends on what your definition of comparable is. A $500 watch running an ETA 2824 is going to be, for all practical purpose, as good at being a watch as one costing 10x's as much. It'll probably be made of the same materials, the movements will be well-established and high quality, and quality control at least has a chance of being somewhat comparable from the end-user's perspective. There are even a number of quality watches at $700-$1k that have WR ratings far beyond many watches at 10x the price, so in some ways, they can even far surpass the high end stuff depending on your intended purpose.

    But, as we say here time and again, watches (especially mechanical and high end types) aren't really about tangible qualities. People pay Rolex prices to get piece of the Rolex pedigree. They don't want a watch, they want a Rolex. They find some sense of satisfaction in it that's worth a cost far beyond what functionality or even "craftmanship" is actually offered (good as they may be). Really, as much as people like them, you hand a regular person a Sub and a Steinhart and they're not going to be able to tell the difference without the brand name. But in this way, nothing else will be comparable for people who care...and it's probably the most important part of a high end purchase. If you're not just ga-ga over it then you've thrown a lot of money out the window.

    As an aside, there are some things you just can't get affordably, like say double tourbillons, but this kind of thing is incredibly rare haute horlogerie that has about as much to do with time telling as a Picasso.
    Last edited by midshipman01; August 13th, 2011 at 06:14.
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