Why Is A Luxury Watch So Expensive?

It may be your first luxury watch, or perhaps your twentieth, but by now you’ve realised you have an affliction for that shiny piece of metal, encrusted with a little sapphire - or diamond, even. We all know the one: the kind of luxury watch that makes your wrist heavy, and your wallet light.

But why do they set us back such a pretty penny? What makes them so different to the standard watches available on the market? They all do the same thing, don’t they? Well, not exactly. There are a few key differences that make that price scale slightly more understandable - and mostly it comes down to sheer good engineering (with a couple of reasons you won’t expect). Let’s dive a little deeper into some of them.

The movement can be costly for a brand

The quartz revolution completely changed the game for luxury watchhouses.

The ‘quartz revolution’ (or crisis, as some negatively recall it), is when the market for luxury watches completely shifted. In fact, between 1973 to 1983 - Swiss watch sales plummeted from 40 million, down to a laughable 10, thanks to the introduction of battery-powered, quartz watches that were able to be mass-produced… quickly. All of a sudden, the known watch brands (many whom were well-established and considered the go-to for the purchasing of a new watch) became simply too expensive (and detailed) in comparison to the average quartz ticker.

A lot of consumers shifted their mindset to wanting something that simply told the time, was perhaps waterproof - and not much else. This meant that the detailed movements of many a well-known, luxury watch were a costly luxury not required in production, in place of a much cheaper, shorter-lasting alternative. But that doesn’t stop those movements clocking up a huge chunk of the cost of a luxury watch.

Making movements is expensive; and if it’s required to be sourced from elsewhere, it’s even more expensive. The materials are one thing, but the watchmaker’s time, precision and experience is another. Not just anyone can put together a beautiful work of art, and it takes time.

The air of exclusivity boosts perceived value

If everyone wants the same thing - it gains an air of exclusivity, which brands will always capitalise on.

Of course, as this revolution started to occur, established luxury watch-houses were tasked with trying to rope back some of those sales. Creating similar quartz timepieces was an option some embraced, but for those who had staked their reputation on being the best, their claw-back tactic was risky: become even more exclusive.

Instead of following on with what the market was doing, they put even more resource into research and development, curating a set of watches that were more intricate, more detailed - and required more ongoing maintenance and experience to look after than ever. Instead of turning customers away for good - in fact, it had the opposite effect.

People were intrigued and excited by the exclusivity and the price began to reflect this. Add in the consumerism push post-1990s and humans began to form an (at times) disorderly queue for the latest watchhouse release, paying for the privilege. To this day, those initial behavioural shifts have remained, and only seem to get stronger each year. In fact, some watches are considered the hallmark of privilege, like the Rolex Submariner Automatic, but that’s not a standalone option - if you’re paying for a brand name, you’re paying, simple.

A lot of brains are involved in the process

With a luxury wristwatch, even if it’s in the realm of affordable, you’re paying for the thought that has gone into getting it ready.

Like anything of great craftsmanship, you’re not simply paying for the end product - and the materials only make up a part of the equation. Instead, a lot of the time, you’re also paying the premium of brain-juice; an actual person who has laboured for hours over the design, the movement, the science behind it, the way it wears and the purpose - especially in watches that are worn for a reason, like deep-sea diving.

According to the Watch Index: “There are quite a few steps and people involved in the process of research and development, designing, creating, marketing, distributing, and selling a watch. When you buy a watch, you’re not just paying for the piece of metal on your wrist.

...You’re paying for the entire process it took to get your watch from an idea on a computer screen to the dealer’s floor.”

They are hand-finished with love

It’s a perfect match between a science and an art when it comes to finishing brand name watches.

Picture this: A person in an exquisitely-tailored suit - peeping in intensely through a close up lens, just to perfectly position that final crystal casing, or screw in that fraction of a millimetre screw. In a luxury watch-house, don’t expect any conveyor belts, automated machines or plastic casing. Everything is done by hand, to the final detail, and it is time-consuming and arduous.

But the result? A beautiful, hand-carved timepiece that should last you your entire lifetime (and even the next, if you intend to pass it down to the younger generation). And if anything ever pops out of place - highly unlikely - you’ll normally be covered with a lifetime warranty with the original manufacturer. That’s how confident they are that it won’t happen. Of course, you don’t have to spend that eye-watering number in order to score yourself a classic, and affordable luxury watch - Watch Direct’s entire range of both luxury, brand names and standard watches are the same that you’d find on the shelves of a store… simply with a better price tag. Shop now for the latest in affordable luxury watches; enjoy the watch, love the savings.


Watch Direct is Australia’s number one watch website for brand new, high-quality designer watches. They’re exactly the same as those you would find in the shops, simply with a better price tag. A range of styles, brands and designs offer a perfect potential watch for every buyer - including Armani, Citizen, Tissot, Breitling and many more. Hurry, time is ticking!