It sounds almost impossible, but it’s true—some watches are more expensive than cars. Those small accessories that tell us time appear to be worthy opponents to huge cars that help us get around faster. This begs the question: why are some watches more expensive than cars?
Some watches are more expensive than cars because of the time and effort required to make them. In contrast, cars are often mass-produced, typically with the aid of heavy machinery. Watches often come with diamonds or sapphires in their design which drives up price. Brand names also play a part.
In this article, I’ll discuss the topic at hand and give you six reasons why some watches are more expensive than cars. Apart from that, I’ll also discuss if they’re worth the price and some cheaper options used in our modern world instead of those luxury timepieces.
6 Reasons Some Luxury Watches Cost More Than Cars
It’s hard to imagine that a small wristwatch could cost more than a car—and I’m not talking about some second-hand family cars. I’m talking about large SUVs and luxury cars only a few can afford.
Even so, if you ask any watch enthusiast to choose, they’d rather spend their money—anywhere from hundreds of thousands to millions of dollars—on one watch than on a luxury car that objectively completes a more important function.
However, the question of the price tag is still pertinent—why do some brands put astronomical prices on their watches? Let’s take a look at some of those reasons.
The Complexity of a Watch’s Movement
There’s a reason why handcrafted items—especially traditional ones—cost so much money. Craftspeople spend years perfecting their skills to produce unique products people can enjoy. All that effort and time deserves some recognition—money. Watchmaking is no different!
Watchmakers essentially operate and produce tiny worlds, so they need to be extra careful and calm. One wrong move and a watch’s movement goes down the drain. Because of their size, cars don’t have the same problem. No matter their exterior design, every car has the same mechanism that’s usually fitted with the help of a robotic hand.
Just to put things in perspective, Jacob & Co’s Twin Turbo Furious Bugatti model contains staggering 832 components in its case! Naturally, cars have many more components, but we’re talking about a tiny wristwatch.
This shows you the precision watchmakers need to go through—and they’re sure to charge a hefty price. Twin Turbo Furious Bugatti 300+ will cost you around $580,000, while Twin Turbo Furious La Montre Noire Bugatti‘s original price was a whopping $1,000,000.
Tourbillon Watches Cost More Because of Their Complexity
Tourbillon watches, and even double tourbillon ones nowadays, are still one of the more expensive watches. Their design was perhaps worth the money when they were first invented, but today, they hold only sentimental and aesthetic value.
That’s because tourbillon watches, although more complex to make, aren’t any more accurate in telling time than any other watch. Most people will pay those astronomical prices because tourbillon movements look amazing.
The Watch’s Quality
Another factor that will undoubtedly affect a watch’s price is the material watchmakers decide to use when making the watch. Three commonly expensive materials used when making watches are:
- Leather (for straps)
Leather is typically the least expensive material on this list, as opposed to gold, which symbolizes the ultimate luxury. As such, gold watches are automatic status symbols.
However, this isn’t to say that leather-strap watches don’t have their suitable representatives on the most expensive watches list. A great example is the Patek Philippe Grandmaster Chime (ref. 6300A-010), the most expensive watch sold to date. It was sold for an unbelievable $31 million!
Some newer watches use carbon fiber for watch cases, which can get pricey. This material is something they have in common with cars. However, it usually doesn’t significantly inflate a watch’s price alone—but when combined with other elements from this list, they can make some watches more expensive than cars.
Decorations on Luxury Watches
A crucial aspect that truly drives a watch’s final price up is all the additional decoration added to it, especially if it’s added o a luxury watch. These add-ons can be quite expensive and are usually one or more of the following:
These decorations are usually applied on bezels, although they can cover the entire watch also. Such watches are, for example, Jacob & Co’s Billionaire ($18 M) or Graff Diamonds Hallucination worth $55 million.
So, with these kinds of watches, the price isn’t just set by the watch itself. It’s also set by all those extra decoration pieces.
Vintage Watches Cost More
Used-watches stores and auction houses are filled with all kinds of watches, but the most expensive ones are usually unique vintage pieces. The world of wristwatches moves with the times (no pun intended). Watches have become more modern pieces of fashion rather than useful gadgets that tell you the time. For this reason, those old models are so precious.
There’s something special about those watches. They take you back in time, making a true gentleman or gentlewoman out of you. However, they also don’t come cheap. For instance, Patek Philippe’s Perpetual Calendar 2499J (third series), sold for $2.54 million, isn’t exactly a nice last-minute birthday present for a friend.
The Rarity of a Watch Can Affect the Price
If they’re vintage and, on top of that, rare, they automatically increase in price—and this goes for watches and cars here. They complement each other in this respect. Rare watches are like holy grails in the watch-collecting world.
Watch companies often produce certain models in limited numbers. So, naturally, they become rare pieces over time. The same happens in the car industry. So, this combination of old and rare sets the price really high. So high, in fact, that some watches will be significantly more expensive than cars.
The Time Spent To Make a Watch
Another aspect of a watchmaker’s craft included in the price is the time they must spend making only one watch. That’s part of the reason why some watches are ‘pieces unique’ or limited in number. This is also why some watches are more expensive than some cars.
Some watchmakers will spend months making one watch. This isn’t because they’re too slow or inexperienced. Rather, the intricate designs require all that time and patience, which will undoubtedly be reflected in the final price.
For example, it takes Jacob & Co’s watchmaker three months to carve one tiny dragon (the main decorative piece made of gold or other precious material inside the case) in their Astronomia Dragon model. So, the price becomes slightly more reasonable when you look at it from that perspective.
Brand Names Often Affect the Price
Finally, this list would be incomplete without this important aspect—brand names. Many amateur watch wearers or collectors often only look at the brand name when buying their watches. I mean, who could blame them? We’re obsessed with brand names nowadays, which means sky-high price tags for some watches.
For some, those prices are justified, and for others, they represent our modern problem of overpricing brands. Whatever the case is, only a few watch brands can set prices for some of their models that exceed the prices of some cars. Some of these brands include:
- Jacob & Co
- Patek Philippe
Are Expensive Watches Worth the Price?
Since we explored why some watches are more expensive than cars, let’s focus on another question people who’re not into watches ask: are those prices really worth it? It’s a fair question, of course.
This is an entirely subjective stance. Car enthusiasts (and many others) certainly don’t understand why a tiny watch would cost more than an entire car. On the other hand, watch collectors would rather pay astronomical amounts of money for a vintage watch than a sports car.
Let me cut to the chase and say that, for ordinary people between these car-and-watch opposites, the prices of either aren’t worth it. If you’re using a watch just to check the time, you certainly don’t have to have a multi-million dollar watch.
That said, this doesn’t invalidate the actual prices of these watches. While the price might seem excessive for most people, watch collectors and makers are aware of the amount of care and time, along with the level of effort required to create many of these watches.
What Are Some Good-Quality, Affordable Watches?
You don’t have to spend a staggering amount of money to buy a luxury watch, especially today when many other cheaper options are available. These are also perfect for new watch collectors who usually don’t have that kind of money to spend.
Cheaper brands that offer great watches include:
Even though some watches cost more than some cars, many people will still choose these watches instead of cars in a heartbeat. Those expensive watches are luxury timepieces that are not just accurate but also fashionable.