Watch this space: why are expensive watches so awful? | Jack Marshall's column

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A friend of my dad’s is a watch guy. A keen barfly, he delights in nothing more than perching himself next to the rows of McCoys and talking timepieces, invariably finding an (almost exclusively male) audience of supposedly-admiring onlookers as he rolls his wrist.

Recently, I was privy to a personal demonstration as, in one quick motion, he unclasped the hefty strap on his thick-set watch and handcuffed me with the thing. It was heavy and cumbersome. Dense. He said it cost £12,000.

I don’t get expensive watches, which isn’t a turn of phrase to establish the surely-implicit fact that I, as a 28-year-old journalist, can’t drop 12 grand on something which tells the time - a task my phone does for free. It’s more that I just don’t understand them.

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There are many things I don’t understand. I don’t understand why people like poppadoms so much. I don’t understand why people vote Lib Dem. I don’t understand why Americans make tea in the microwave. But I really don’t understand expensive watches.

My £15 Casio watch looking fineMy £15 Casio watch looking fine
My £15 Casio watch looking fine

Let’s break down what a watch is. Fundamentally, it’s a tool which tells the time. Beyond that, it’s a fashion accessory, jewellery meant to look nice. Finally, it’s a status symbol, a ‘look-at-me’ marker of economic muscle.

Right. Well, all functioning watches tell the time regardless of price. Let’s move on. Fashion accessory? There seems to be a confusing correlation between how expensive a watch is and how vile it is. Expensive watches are just big and gaudy to justify themselves with unnecessary bulk and glitz.

I reckon horologists are the craftiest snake oil salesmen going. Geniuses.

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Anyways, onwards to social status. Personally, I can’t help but view the wearer of a watch which costs as much as a deposit for a small house as a little daft. But, to each their own, I suppose.

Making all the appropriate cooing noises to satiate my dad’s giddy friend, I politely slipped the manacle off my wrist and replaced it with my £15 Casio, a watch which tells the time whilst looking – I think - infinitely better whilst doing it, too.

“That’s a nice watch,” my dad’s mate said.

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