Have you seen that article in another watch blog where some independent watchmakers were asked about what they'd buy under $10,000?
If so, what did you think of their answers?
Thanks for the question, and I have looked up that article and I do have an opinion.
For those who haven't read or seen the article, back in March-ish 2014 Roger Smith, Kari Voutilainen, Laurent Ferrier, and Philippe Dufour were asked what watch they'd recommend buying if the budget was less than $10,000.
This is an interesting question because these are four of the brightest minds in modern watchmaking, and because it was for a watch under $10,000 not any watch in general regardless of price.
Let's go through each reply one at a time:
Kari Voutilainen: "It’s a tricky question. In this case, perhaps I would buy a Parmigiani to support my village. That is perhaps the best solution, because it will bring wealth to the area where I’m living."
This is a cop out and I would honestly ignore it. Not because Parmigiani make bad watches, they don't, but because it's not an answer based on the watch(es), but on where the company is based. In other words, if Parmigiani was not from his home town he'd have a different answer.
Philippe Dufour: "I would say that you could buy at this price, maybe a bit less, a very good watch in terms of value and quality. It’s not Swiss — sorry — [but] a German brand called NOMOS. I found that this brand makes a very serious product. I like these watches, and for somebody who wants to start, I think this will be a good [choice]: not too expensive and good value for money."
I'm not sure what to think of this answer, because while I highly endorse and love Nomos, this would be my answer under $5,000. But if I have another $5,000 to spend I'd rather maximize that. So, again it's a good answer but only if the budget was under $5,000.
Laurent Ferrier: "If I could only buy one, I would go for a Rolex Daytona. If you really want to start a collection, it’s probably going to have to be with something simple, so the best way is to go to an auction and try to find original 50-year-old pieces that are still in good condition. That’s a very easy way to start."
Roger Smith: "I don’t know if this would surprise people, but personally, it would have to be a Rolex. They are exceptional watches and what impresses me about Rolex is that they’re not very adventurous, which is good, because they know they have a great movement. The movements that they use are tried and tested. They’ve been around forever — why change the wheel? They have a watch that you can use for dress, sports, and it’s a great all-rounder. Put one on your wrist and you’ll probably die with that watch on your wrist. It’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but I look at the mechanics of a watch, the case and how all the components are constructed; to me, [the Rolex is] bulletproof, and I don’t think you can get much better than that. They don’t sponsor me, by the way."
I put these two answers together, because they both said Rolex and I think these were very strategic answers. Rolex is the most famous brand and the one brand most associated with success and prestige.
I've written about this in a previous post, but Rolex achieved this status/reputation due to their marketing more than their innovations/watches. There are many brands that make "better" watches, but none with the same brand recognition.
And brand recognition is exactly what all four of these watchmakers (their companies that is) need to survive and move forward.
So, by selecting Rolex as their answer they indirectly placed Rolex below their own brands.
In other words, in not so many words they pretty much said if you're gonna buy a watch under $10,000 buy a Rolex or a Nomos or *something*, but if you're gonna go over $10,000 you should buy our watches.
And there's no way they'd have answered with the true best-watch-under-$10k, because if they did, they'd indirectly have placed themselves below that brand.
And that brand is none other than Jaeger LeCoultre (JLC).
JLC can not only top anything those four can do technically, they also have serious pedigree.
In other words, while Rolex presents no threat to these four, JLC is easily their biggest threat -- keeping in mind A Lange & Sohne, Patek Philippe, Audemars Piguet, and Vacheron Constantin do not make anything under $10k.
And when it comes to under $10k, JLC is stacked, but stacked with wonderful options.
...and my favorite watch brand of the four? Laurent Ferrier, easily!