By on March 9, 2015

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The announcement of the Apple Watch caused a resurgent interest in Jack’s piece on luxury watches, luxury cars and the disposable nature of both. Although the article is over two years old, it’s gained a new life with today’s news. Check it out here.

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45 Comments on “TTAC’s Greatest Hits: The Ephemeral Nature Of Luxury...”


  • avatar
    highdesertcat

    I just got through doing the iOS 8.2 upgrade. I doubt I’ll buy an Apple iWatch.

  • avatar
    wmba

    Haven’t worn a watch in 20 years. The straps always seemed to cause rashes on my wrist in hot weather. Went to vintage old Waltham and Elgin pocket watches from the 1890s for a decade, just to be different. Plus they are amazing pieces of mechanical construction for their times – when new car engines looked as if they were made by incompetent plumbers. Those pocket watches put America easily 20 years ahead of the Swiss in the 1860s, and required inventing production machine tools of unprecedented precision. A forgotten story.

    Now with smartphones, who needs a watch? Well, if Apple is correct, youth will now wear them. All the quality of a Swatch for 10 times the price – great for Apple if it’s a sales success. Then they can use their cash hoard to design a car and battery and lose it all in an arena where they really haven’t a clue what they’re up to.

  • avatar

    As the owner of two Sistem51 watches, I assure you—Swatch quality is far, far superior.

    • 0 avatar
      racer-esq.

      The Sistem 51 is garbage (held together with “one screw” because the rest is cheaply soldered together), but Orient will sell a person a much better made automatic mechanical watch for the same money with a sapphire crystal.

      For the price of the Apple watch a damn nice Hamilton or Tissot (also from Swatch Group but a step up) automatic mechanical watch can be had.

  • avatar
    sirwired

    Well, at least the iWatch actually DOES something that you can’t do with a Timex you picked up at Target.

    Your prototypical luxury watch is jewelry (one of the few kinds of bling your prototypical boring corporate-type doesn’t feel weird wearing) that happens to also be a watch. Functionally, it’s demonstrably inferior in every way to a $40 watch from the discount store of your choice.

    While the iWatch has some drawbacks too (I doubt it’s as sturdy as a Timex, and the battery life is terrible) at least it’s not ALL just a pretty case (and pointlessly complex innards).

    • 0 avatar
      heavy handle

      “it’s demonstrably inferior in every way to a $40 watch”

      Like most people living in DST timezones, I had to update a few clocks this Sunday. They spanned a range of over 10 minutes, with none being less than a couple minutes off.

      You always hear how great $40 watches are, but in the real world, you have to reset them just as often as good mechanical watches. And then you throw them away when the battery runs out because the cheap face is scratched, the band is about to break, and fixing this would cost more than a new watch.

      This is a “demonstrably superior” product? I guess if you’ve only got a year to live. Otherwise, a good quality watch (mechanical or quartz) is a better investment. You can get a solid watch for the price of an iPhone, and it will last you a lifetime.

  • avatar

    the price of these things ranges between $350 and $17,000
    This is probably the most epic BADGEWHORE device ever crafter by the hands of man.

    Tt’s no doubt they will sell – since it’ll be the new wedding gift of the rich and oil sheiks.

    The only way I could see buying one is if PROFLIGHT apps work on it…it’s still easier however to simply hook an iPad Mini right to the flight yolk in a Citation/Skyhawk.

    I’m just THANKFUL the watch ecosystem is CLOSED TO GALAXY USERS. You’ll never see a Galaxy 6 owner rocking an iWatch. They’ll be stuck with those lame Android watches LOL.

    • 0 avatar
      hreardon

      Yeah, I can’t disagree on the badgewhore aspect of the device. The only remotely interesting aspect is the metallurgy of how they’ve done the gold on the top end model – no doubt that will be enough justification for some. As for me….I’ll pass, thank you.

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      BTSR, the iWatch starts at just under $550 and goes up from there. It is marketed as jewelry but most people see it as a tech device.

      It should appeal to the young, tech oriented demo, obsessed with their own health, that already owns a current model iPhone.

      What I was totally impressed with was the new iMacbook. It blew me away. Gotta have one!

      • 0 avatar

        #1 If you think anyone buying this is doing so FOR HEALTH REASONS you’re absolutely kidding yourself.

        #2 If you think anyone is buying this for the tech aspect of it:

        a) talking to your hand like DickTracy
        b) trying to use any apps on that tiny screen.
        c) getting more life out of it than the iPhone6+ battery

        You’re joking.

        This is a toy for the arm just to show everyone you’ve got one and they don’t.

        Up till now I’ve only bought Citizen Ecodrive Skyhawk AT (because they have pilot’s Whiz wheel and set themselves in whatever time zone) and Omega Speedmaster Pro/ Breitling Emergency. I’m not a real watch person.

        The people who are gonna want this most are the demographic who’s stupid enough to spend $300 on a pair of sneakers or Uggs.

        It’s going to be the most desirable Christmas/ Wedding gift – which is funny because the cellphone itself basically made watches obsolete.

        My only question is its water resistance. If it’s not waterproof to at least 10 Meters – NO DEAL.

        • 0 avatar
          highdesertcat

          Actually, the Health monitoring routines are pretty slick and IMO the best aspects of this device. It is the most advanced watch ever designed to use with an iPhone 5 or newer.

          If someone has the cash to lay out $550 or more for the most basic of the three versions, I’m cool with that. The Gold-clad version is indeed a “Hey, look at me!” item, starting at over $10K. But the Sport version is indeed much cheaper and has limited features/capabilities.

          Right now Fit-bit is a big player with people who want to monitor their health, and I think that the new iWatch goes several steps better. Last year only 720,000 Android wrist-devices were sold. I believe in America, the iWatch will do better.

          But what really tickles my interest is that new Macbook for $1300, 8Gb and a 1.1GHz processor.

          Right now I am using an iPad Air, upgraded with iOS8.2 (today) and compared to that new Macbook offering unveiled today, even the newest iPad Air 2 is stone-aged.

          I’m fired up about a small laptop with built-in keyboard weighing only 2.2 lbs and with a battrery life of ~10hrs.

          I’m not an Apple junkie but I recognize an excellent product. We have a wide variety of devices from Samsung, Apple, Google, Dell, H-P and others.

          And AFAIAC, if people have the money, they SHOULD buy whatever it is they want, even if most of us think it is outrageous.

          • 0 avatar
            sproc

            Meh. Love Macs but the single USB-C on the MB is a deal breaker. Dongles are pure evil. Plus, performance is so compromised/crippled that it will be diesel Rabbit slow in 2-3 years, unlike the 1.5lb heavier and vastly more capable MBP.

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            Sproc, that’s the way of the future. Fewer connectors on all devices. Everything is going wireless, even printing and file management.

            Everybody is going to the “cloud”. I have a cloud of my own at home and can address it from all my devices, over my Wi-Fi. None of my stuff goes to the Apple Cloud or Microsoft Cloud.

            My Dell XPS-27 has six USB3 ports, an HDMI port, an RJ-45 port and I have nothing connected to any of those ports because I network everything over the Wi-Fi Router.

            My iPad Air and Air 2 don’t have ANY ports except for the Lightning connector and it hasn’t stopped me from talking among all my devices connected to my Wi-Fi, or transferring files.

            I can even print wireless over my Wi-Fi from any device to any of my printers, wirelessly.

            Who needs more than one USB connector if everything is going wireless. I don’t even need the USB-C port.

          • 0 avatar
            S2k Chris

            Connectivity isn’t the only use for USB, as we become more mobile, charging devices via USB is another biggie. Couldn’t tell you how many times I’ve charged iPhones, iPads, and cameras will traveling via my laptop’s USB connectors.

            The other thing I hate is Apple’s refusal to put in an SD slot (on the iPad, not sure if it’s on the Macs). “Over the cloud” is all fine and good until you’re talking about several gigs of photos or videos or .pdfs. $30 bought me a stupid dongle for the iPad, but why should that have to be the way?

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            S2k Chris, create your own “Cloud”. Western Digital has drives that will function off your router and over the internet, and you can expand to as many as your router can handle. And it is secure, I mean like TOTALLY secure with a password as long as you like to make it. Mine is 21 character long.

            I use the Samsung 3TB version bought at Wal-Mart for less than $90, with a total of 5TB across one Dell XPS-27, running a Core i7 3.1GHz processor and 16GB RAM. It satifies all my wants and needs for a cloud over a Netgear “n/c” 1200 router.

            And that includes all the business stuff too.

        • 0 avatar
          energetik9

          I use my iPhone for health tracking. Doesn’t seem even a slight stretch to use an iWatch for that too.

          • 0 avatar
            zamoti

            I don’t get the whole fitbit/health watch thing. I have not investigated, but it appears to be a glorified pedometer and mild body instrumentation.
            Does it tell you that you’re too fat and you need to run or does it just tell you what you’ve done in a day. It seems to me that the term “health tracking” is a bit generous. I mean it isn’t monitoring what you eat (unless you’re presumably pinky-tapping your menu into it).
            If I’m going to drop that much coin on a watch, it’s would be on a vintage Omega Seamaster or in dreams a Piaget Altiplano. Chocolate leather strap, cream dial face, no date–that’d do just fine.

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            The goal is to use the iwatch/iphone combo to be able to monitor health-related functions currently done by other, unrelated devices, like blood pressure, heart rate, oxygenation level %, Blood sugar level and A1C, stress level and body tension, steps walked, distance traveled, intake of fluids, pill/meds reminder alarm, and more.

            Sitting in that cubicle at work for hours at a time is bad a body. Now there is One device that offers reminders to an individual which that person can either dismiss or utilize to alter their behavior and improve their health.

        • 0 avatar
          Marone

          BTSR – “The people who are gonna want this most are the demographic who’s stupid enough to spend $300 on a pair of sneakers or Uggs.”

          Wow, do you go around insulting the cars people buy too? Who cares what people spend their money on?

          “#1 If you think anyone buying this is doing so FOR HEALTH REASONS you’re absolutely kidding yourself.”

          FYI, I’ve got a diabetic niece (teen) who is pretty damn excited about how this watch might help her and I’ve already promised her one for her birthday. But I guess she’s not smart enough. [email protected]@

    • 0 avatar
      kmoney

      It is kind of a lame duck invention (Galaxy Gear, which was basically the same thing, flopped cause at the end of the day it is kinda a meh idea). I predict it goes down like bluetooth headsets when they first came out: a huge sales spike from those who like to look important/in the know/on the move flock to them, then the novelty wears off and they basically end up deadstock.

      The only thing that could make these cool (to me at least) is if the metallurgy and build quality is actually on par with mid-level luxury watches — sapphire crystal, 316L stainless and waterproof.

      • 0 avatar
        highdesertcat

        kmoney, time will tell but I’ve got two young women who are interested in getting an iWatch because they are both obsessed with their health, like to be notified if they have an email or phone call from a wrist device so they don’t have to dig out their phone out of their back pocket.

        It does not appeal to me since my phone is my watch/clock and I’m not obsessed with my health, nor am I a runner. Also, I do not text often and not very well when I drive.

        This iWatch is marketed toward a specific niche, and even if they only get 1% of that iPhone fan club to buy into the new iWatch, that’s still a sizeable market. I believe by the end of last month the new iPhone surpassed 7 million in sales.

    • 0 avatar
      hubcap

      “…it’s still easier however to simply hook an iPad Mini right to the flight yolk in a Citation/Skyhawk.”

      Most newer Citations should be able to display plates on the MFD. Skyhawk avionic systems can do this too but the owner might not want to pony up for the expense.

  • avatar
    hreardon

    There are two schools of thought on the Apple Watch:

    One, that they’re laying the groundwork for wearable technology (look at a lot of their recent hires over the past three years) and they’re building themselves a name in the fashion world since Apple is, after all, known for their aesthetic and design sense. Fashionable watches carry pricetags all over the map – with Apple adding in increased functionality to this old-world and yet never dying accessory, there’s a lucrative potential market. Think Rolex, Breitling, etc.

    The other school of thought says: okay, wearable technology may indeed be the next thing, and Apple is indeed well positioned for that; But very high end watches tend to be considered heirloom pieces – and consumer electronics gadgets are replaced every 18 months or so. Disposable.

    I find nothing appealing about the Watch, nor do I have the disposable income for a Breitling, Tag Heurer or the like. Were I among the 1%, I might be interested in the higher end Watch, but my neo-luddite side would probably prefer the heirloom factor of the aforementioned brands – I’d be hard pressed to think of Apple’s Watch as anything other than consumer electronics.

    I find the metallurgical investment Apple has made into these devices to be more fascinating than the watches themselves.

    And I think that will be the key: can Apple convince people that their product is not a consumer electronics device, but a valuable accessory? If anyone could make the jump it would be Apple. Who knows. I don’t have a dog in this hunt.

    • 0 avatar
      JMII

      Thank you for understand what Apple is really doing here. Most people don’t get it.

      As for me I’m sticking with my $40 Timex Ironman. However my wife is dying to get an Apple Watch. See also has purses/handbags that have names and logos on them. I don’t understand it… but I spend $300 just to drive my car (on a track) so I can’t really make fun of her values.

  • avatar
    dal20402

    “But very high end watches tend to be considered heirloom pieces – and consumer electronics gadgets are replaced every 18 months or so. Disposable.”

    Yeah, this, exactly. I’m just about the ideal consumer for the stainless Apple Watch. I like both watches and gadgets, the Apple ecosystem has completely sunk its teeth into me, and I’m okay with charging the thing every night. But I just can’t see a $1000 watch as a two-year investment. It needs to last five years or more.

  • avatar
    WheelMcCoy

    Bah! I made do with a stick in the sand and the sun over my shoulder!

    Actually, I stopped wearing a watch when I started carrying around an iPhone (or similar device). But then I became a regular train commuter and needed to note the time and schedule. Pulling out an iPhone while going to my gate got me the same glares I used to give: “oh… he’s one of those idiots who texts and walks.” So now I wear a watch.

    The Apple Watch is appealing to me because I carry around a fit-bit too… one I would be happy to do away with in favor of tracking my steps with a watch, among doing other Apple things. Luxury is secondary, but I am still looking for well made well designed products. I will be the cheapskate asking about the entry level $350 model.

    • 0 avatar
      Quentin

      I’m game for the Sport version. A decent GPS watch for running and cycling is $350. May as well get one of these for that sort of money and actually have something useful during work, driving, etc rather than just when I’m running or riding.

      I like the idea of being able to easily dress a watch up or down with the quick swap bands, too.

  • avatar
    Pch101

    It’s a computer attached to the wrist, not just a watch. I can’t imagine that it won’t be a hit.

  • avatar
    rpn453

    Calculator watches were a big hit in my fourth-grade class. The novelty wore off by fifth grade though. Even for our little hands, it was much easier to use a full-sized calculator than to push those tiny buttons. But at the time, it seemed very cool that it could be done.

  • avatar
    Waftable Torque aka Daniel Ho

    This was one of my favorite TTAC articles, and it’s hard to believe it’s been several years.

    I was working on my 5 year plan between now and 2020. All that was on my old list was buying this, owning that, and never getting off the high-burn rate cycle. Once I turned the conversation to what I wanted my net worth statement to be in 5 years, the bucket list changed. Now it’s painful to spend my money on “stuff” if it doesn’t align with my long term goals and doesn’t solve an immediate quality-of-life issue.

    I guess you can say I inoculated myself from the curse of luxury.

    • 0 avatar

      I missed this article the first time around. It’s terrific.

      My intellect understands the appeal of ephemeral luxury, but it’s lost on my gut. I’ll take my Civic, any day, over the Boxster Jack was describing, and I will enjoy it’s longevity. In fact, here is my story about the car I wish I’d bought in the ’70s and hung onto all these years

      https://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/the-man-for-whom-they-made-the-three-million-mile-badge/

      A major part of the appeal is the durability, the sheer quality.

  • avatar
    krayzie

    I thought Ventura is supposed to sue Apple for that multifunctional knob on the iWatch.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    More electronic landfill fodder obsolescent weeks or months within being sold. Yay!

    FTR until the watch *replaces* the “phone”, its just an another uninventive utterly stupid thing from the people who aren’t Steve Jobs (although please go out and blow a grand on this POS, Big Brother wants your biometric data!).

    • 0 avatar
      jmo

      Why u so angry?

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        I just hate junk. $800 billion dollars for building what amounts to consumer junk using effectively slave labor in another country. Google, as scary as they are sometimes, at least attempts scientific pursuits with its fortune.

        • 0 avatar
          S2k Chris

          You can accuse Apple of a lot of things but “building junk” isn’t one of them. You may not always agree with their function or featureset, but they generally do what they are intended to do by their manufacturer very well.

  • avatar
    energetik9

    Maybe I’m in the minorty on TTAC, but I’ll be placing an order for an iWatch. I like what I see so far. I realize there are limitations, but it’s a watch, not a phone.

    I’m also the owner of a few luxury swiss watches. Not sure how much I’ll wear the iWatch, but at the lower price points, it’s not that expensive. I see zero reason for a gold version.

  • avatar
    zamoti

    I don’t see the appeal in this at all. It’s not really a watch and that’s fine because nobody needs a watch these days. I have a clock in the corner of my laptop display, a phone on my pocket with the time, my desk telephone also shows the time. The watch as a timekeeping device has long been obsolete. What a watch has turned into in modern times is a form of adornment. Some say it can be an ostentatious show of wealth or an attempt at it, some say that it’s about enjoying a piece of timeless craftwork and/or jewelery (if you buy a nice one).
    I tend to believe that it is indeed about the enjoyment of the piece itself; I do not own a timepiece currently, but I do look forward to eventually collecting a few. I don’t care tremendously about what others think since most people won’t notice it and will probably prefer some gadget strapped to their wrist instead. I desire a well-made watch because I value well-made objects. I try to keep personal belongings to a minimum and what I do acquire, I tend to make sure is important to me as well as extremely durable. A computer for my wrist doesn’t qualify, not because it won’t be well made, but because it won’t stand the test of time. It will be disposable, no different than a mobile phone or a laptop. It will never appreciate in value, it will never be handed down the generations. I presume that this is 100% fine with many, I don’t presume to foist my values upon others, but I certainly don’t agree with adding more disposable electronic folderol to the litany of things that distract us from our lives.
    On the enjoyable day that I do find my timepiece, I will look at it, see something durable and good, I will know the time, tuck it back under my cuff and then I will happily continue upon my way.
    I don’t need a watch to tell me that I’m too fat, I know this already.

  • avatar
    Zackman

    I’m not an Apple-head, so I won’t be buying one. My 1991 $50.00 Helbros wristwatch w/Twist-o-flex band works just fine! Just change the battery every year.

    If I want more bling, I wear my 2005 Citizen Eco-Drive watch. It’s a pure watch – no day/date, just a watch.

    If I really want to impress someone, I’ll get out the white gold 1914 Elgin railroad watch my great uncle wore when he worked for Missouri Pacific RR.

    However, if anyone wants to buy the Apple watch, more power to them!

    • 0 avatar
      S2k Chris

      “If I want more bling, I wear my 2005 Citizen Eco-Drive watch. It’s a pure watch – no day/date, just a watch.”

      I have an Eco-Drive as well, and to me it’s the Mazda Miata of watches. I wear it every day, it’s durable as hell, most people think it cost more than it did (listed for $600, bought in a department store for ~$300), and it will run forever with minimal effort.

      The iWatch is cool, and if it was $100-200 I’d probably pick one up and play with it for a few months, but at the asking prices, it’s way too much for something I know won’t be a long-term thing.

  • avatar
    zamoti

    Relevant: ca[.]askmen[.]com/fashion/mens-watches/against-smart-watches.html

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