The Language of Watches
and the message in “Crazy Rich Asians” that you probably missed
By Jason Marsden
Today no one really needs a watch to tell the time. Fitness trackers and cell phones are now the go-to device for accurate time. Today’s gentleman (or woman) wears a watch to send a message to others in the know. With clothing becoming more casual – even fitness wear now becoming everyday wear, the wristwatch is the one item of jewellery that is both practical and also able to convey a lot about the owner.
From a full diamond set Rolex to a subtle Omega, people change watches regularly to suit their mood, clothing and occasion. White gold and platinum is a popular way to tell those in the know that you have exquisite taste and the ability to indulge it whilst for other casual observers, the watch may at first glance just appear to be a simple steel piece.
Whilst Rolex is the most widely known luxury watch brand, there are many other brands that carry the same pedigree, history and respect amongst the watch aficionado. Money invested in a high-end luxury watch is not lost if the watch is chosen carefully. In today’s market the difficulty can be obtaining the watch as many models have long waiting lists and more often than not a relationship and sales history has to be established with the Authorised Dealer before you may even be considered for a highly sought after piece.
For the ultimate statement piece, brands such as Patek Philippe, Vacheron Constantin and Audemars Piguet must be considered. Whilst these are long established brands with a rich history, there are other brands that are relatively new comers and making their own mark in the luxury watch industry through innovation such as full sapphire cases, carbon fibre and silicon parts. These include brands such as Hublot and Richard Mille with that latter often referred to as the secret billionaire’s handshake as their futuristic watches often cost many hundreds of thousands of dollars and even into the millions.
At a more subtle level, Seiko has been steadily moving more upmarket with its Grand Seiko brand now producing watches to rival the fit and finish of anything from Switzerland. The Grand Seiko Spring Drive is regarded as one of the most accurate movements with its unique totally smooth second hand sweep controlled by a special electromagnetic system. Only the true watch connoisseur will recognise a Grand Seiko wearer as someone with a fine appreciation of craftsmanship approaching fine art as many of the Grand Seiko dials are designed to mimic such things as freshly fallen snow.
Serious watch enthusiasts will at some time take an interest in vintage watches. This is a very specialised interest with its own style language and brand stories. Often purchasing a high-end vintage piece requires specialist knowledge or purchase via a reputable specialist retailer.
In the 2018 film Crazy Rich Asians, the character Astrid Leong (Gemma Chan) gives her husband Michael Teo (Pierre Png) a vintage Rolex Daytona. This particular model with its distinctive white dial and black sub dials is considered one of the most desirable vintage watches in the world. A few months after the film was shot, a similar watch owned by the late actor and racing car driver Paul Newman was sold for US$17.8 million. The gift of this watch in the film not only signifies wealth but the character Astrid’s appreciation and understanding of what the watch community considers almost a national treasure artwork. Vintage watches are also a connection to immortality, they have already been around a long time and such fine examples will continue to be treasured and exist for hundreds of years to come. Thus the gift was definitely one of love, long life and prosperity.
Christchurch people wanting to start their journey into the world of luxury watches are well served by Sam Shaw and his team at Partridge Jewellers who are official agents for Rolex, Omega, Patek Philippe and many other great brands. Just tell him Jason sent you.
About the writer
Jason Marsden is a Retail Property Manager for Colliers International and an avid watch collector. His collection includes not just some famous Swiss luxury watch brands but also a number of vintage Seiko.