Watch collectors are romantics. We collect different time pieces not for our own vanity (ed. there is nothing wrong with a little bit of vanity) but because of the emotions the watch signifies. Rolex GMTs recall the glory days of Pan Am and the rise of commercial aviation, the coming freedom of the middle class to reach (and bring Americana to) the far corners of the world. The Omega Speedmaster Professionals recall the triumphs of when push came to shove and America decided it needed to not just defeat the Reds, but inspire a generation of engineers and scientist to push the edges of what was reasonably possible. Deep diver watches like the Omega PloProf or IWC Aquatimers remind us there is still one more unconquered and stubborn frontier on Earth and Jacque Cousteau led the charge.
Luxury watches aren’t always about buying the finest time pieces we can tool together. It’s about what little piece of history or chic design we think best represents what we admire and we wish to emulate. How we tell and remind ourselves that there is a greater goal, a bigger prize, that we’re part of a larger story that’s unfolding. Why else does IWC prominently put little pieces of the Calypso (a ship that played a critical role in deep sea exploration) in the Cousteau Aquatimer. Why do dive watches go to 2000 meters when 99.9% of buyers of the watch won’t take it deeper than 2 meters if it even touches water at all.
Luxury watches aren’t about practical function for the overwhelming majority of buyers. And they’re not really tokens of showing off wealth either unless you happen to be a horribly insecure person. They’re about pure emotion and how it makes you feel about things by reminding you that the world is larger than what you see in front of you. Watches tell how we wish to express the ideas of our self-identity ultimately to ourselves, it’s a meaningful tattoo we can conveniently take off.
They also happen to be really nice to look at functional jewelry.