Keeping an eye on time: Powerful players in the watch world
What are you thinking about when you decide whether or not to buy a certain watch? You might care about the ingenuity of the little mechanism that makes the hands go around. Or about the brand’s rich history. The deeper a person gets into watches, the more complicated things become. But in reality most of a watch’s appeal can be understood by answering two questions. Is this watch interesting and attractive? And will it make me a more interesting and attractive person?
However much we might pretend otherwise, there is a large element of plumage-primping to how we choose watches – but something sophisticated and understated conveys a subtle message about the wearer. This raises the question about the type of person who is prepared to drop £10,000 on a Seiko. However you look at it, that is a lot of money, especially for a brand that sells very good automatic watches for less than £100.
In Japan people understand perfectly well that Seiko makes extremely well-crafted watches that sell for premium prices, while at the same time offering watches that cost less than a short flight on a budget airline. But elsewhere this is less well understood, and people like to think of a brand as occupying only one market segment – you don’t get a cut-price Patek Philippe any more than you get a budget Bugatti.
In a sign that Seiko has taken this on board, its haute horlogerie pieces are now branded entirely separately, with the Grand Seiko logo appearing more prominently. The watch pictured, the Grand Seiko Hi-Beat 36000 Professional Diver’s, has a high-frequency automatic movement that beats 10 times a second. This highly accurate in-house motor is housed in a titanium case and the finish is in keeping with a watch of this level.
There is recognition within the industry that Grand Seiko watches are of such high quality that they are worth every penny. It might not be the watch you choose to let people know how well your portfolio has been doing, but if that is your priority there is no shortage of flashier names to choose from.
Grand Seiko Hi-Beat 36000 Professional Diver’s has an in-house automatic movement and is water-resistant to 600 metres: £10,000. www.grand-seiko.com
There is no mistaking the blue-bloodedness of Jaeger-LeCoultre, despite the fact that the English-speaking world has yet to decide how to pronounce it. The Swiss firm can trace its origins back to the early 19th century and is rightly considered one of the best watchmakers in the world. The watch pictured is one of a number of vintage-inspired special editions celebrating the 25th anniversary of the Master Control series.
The Briston is a much less hardcore diver than the Seiko described above, but it does have a connection to the Japanese company. Briston was founded four years ago by a Swiss watch industry veteran and produces a smart range of affordable retro-look watches. The Clubmaster Diver is the first Briston to come with an automatic movement, which is supplied by Seiko. It has a rotating inner bezel and is water-resistant to 200 metres.
From £440, www.briston-watches.com