Who is at the top of the watch tree?

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Loddonite
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Who is at the top of the watch tree?

Post by Loddonite »

I was wandering the web and found the World Watch Report which is a collation of commercial data about the top watch and jewellery brands. I don't intend spending the €12500 on the full report, or even €950 on the highlights, but there's a fair bit of interesting information that can be gleaned from the public areas.

For instance... It seems that 20% of web searches originating in the USA about the top watch brands are related to replicas. The same statistic for China is only 4% of web searches. (Is that irony?)

What I really interested me though was the categorisation of some of the brands that the report concentrates on...

Haute Horlogerie

A.Lange & Söhne, Audemars Piguet, Blancpain, Breguet, Franck Muller, Girard-Perregaux, IWC, Jaeger-LeCoultre, Jaquet Droz, Patek Philippe, Richard Mille, Roger Dubuis, Ulysse Nardin, Vacheron Constantin, Zenith
Prestige
Breitling, Hublot, Omega, Panerai, Rolex, Tag Heuer
High Range
Baume & Mercier, Ebel, Frédérique Constant, Longines, Maurice Lacroix, Montblanc, Rado, Raymond Weil, Tudor

... and that, although I agreed with most of it, that my own prejudices were offended by Tag Heuer and Panerai being put in the same category as Rolex/Omega/Breitling, IWC being in 'H-H' rather than 'Prestige' and Montblanc (they who call plastic "precious resin" :evil: ) even being considered amongst this august grouping at all*.

In a way it is nice to know that I don't quite fit with the 'industry' view (and I don't expect that everyone will agree with me either)

Anyway, I just thought I'd share the link and invite anyone else to share their opinions or highlight anything that's interesting.

*actually, that last one is probably a bit unfair.
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Re: Who is at the top of the watch tree?

Post by xtriple »

There's nothing wrong with Tag being in "prestige" but plenty with Hublot being there! Do you think that some of the "top" makers paid to be in the relevant catagory?

Personally, I'd have put Tudor up a grade and Tag down one, but hey, I've got a "Prestige" Tag so I'm happy :lol: .
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Re: Who is at the top of the watch tree?

Post by Dancematt »

The kind of discussion this forum likes to steer clear of for the most part it seems.

Tag have earnt their place at the prestige table, Montblanc should be in HH these days and yep (for me) IWC is prestige
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Re: Who is at the top of the watch tree?

Post by Kip »

I will spend some time looking at this as it looks very interesting.

Not sure I can grasp a "World Watch Report" that includes only 40 brands though.
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Re: Who is at the top of the watch tree?

Post by Leo David »

I can't stand this sort of snobbery. I wonder if the authors of a report costing 12,500 have bothered to define their terms of art. I cannot find a definition and therefore do not understand the meaning "haute horoligie". I assume that such classification would apply only to watch producers who make their movements in house, limit their production in order to maintain exclusiveness and boast all their time pieces are COSC certified, but I have no idea if this is right or wrong or indeed if I am entitled to make such assumptions. Again, I have no idea what is meant or implied by the word "prestige". It says nothing much to me and the term "high range" is completely meaningless. What is pretty obvious is the correlation between the status afforded to a manufacturer and the cost of the timepieces it produces. I have no reason to doubt that the movements and finish on a watch that retails for e.g. £30,000 is flawless, but equally I wonder whether the movement used in say a Rolex costing £5,000 or Omega costing £3,000 is really any different in terms of quality of materials, performance and length of life. As for whether a certain manufacturer deserves to be rated according to a meaningless and obviously subjective scale, I guess if you are a manufacturer making limited numbers of exquisitely turned out movements renowned for their longevity and accuracy encased in precious metals then you might expect to be in the haute category. I expect a watch costing £1,500 from Longines or TAG for example is a better turned out piece than a £200 Citizen, and so it should be but I wouldn't put too much money on it. I wonder where the likes of Stowa, CWL and others would fit in to the artificial and arbitrary ranking system? In short isn't this sort of thing analogous with the way Michelin stars used to be given to restaurants i.e. not only because of the quality of the food but also because of the service, ambience, wine list, cutlery and crockery.

According to the great authority that is wikipedia the following companies are fully owned subsidiaries of Compagnie Financière Richemont S.A:

A. Lange & Söhne — watches; based in Glashütte, Germany
Alfred Dunhill, Ltd. — men's clothing, watches, leather goods; based in London, United Kingdom
Baume et Mercier — watches; based in Geneva, Switzerland
Cartier — jewellery, watches; based in Paris, France
Chloé — women's clothing; based in Paris, France
IWC Schaffhausen — watches; based in Schaffhausen, Switzerland
Jaeger-LeCoultre — watches; based in Le Sentier, Switzerland
James Purdey and Sons — firearms; based in London, United Kingdom
Lancel — leathergoods; based in Paris, France
Manufacture Roger Dubuis S.A. — (60% ownership) watches; based in Geneva, Switzerland
Maison Azzedine Alaïa — women's fashions; based in Paris, France
Montblanc International GmbH — writing instruments, watches; based in Hamburg, Germany
Net-a-Porter Ltd. — clothing sold via the Internet; based in London, United Kingdom
Officine Panerai — watches; based in Florence, Italy
Piaget S.A. — jewellery, watches; based in Geneva, Switzerland
Shanghai Tang — men's and women's fashions; based in Hong Kong, China
Vacheron Constantin — watches; based in Geneva, Switzerland
Van Cleef & Arpels S.A. — jewellery, watches; based in Paris, France

I don't know if this means there is any crossover of components. I expect not but it does make you wonder what you're buying with so many producers under the same banner.
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Re: Who is at the top of the watch tree?

Post by Philip »

Leo David wrote:I don't know if this means there is any crossover of components. I expect not but it does make you wonder what you're buying with so many producers under the same banner.
Equally true of the Swatch Group, who number Breguet, Blancpain, Glashütte Original, Jaquet Droz, Léon Hatot, Omega, Longines, Rado, Union Glashütte, Tissot, Calvin Klein, Balmain, Certina, Mido, Hamilton, Swatch, Flik Flak, Endura and Tourbillon amongst their brands.

(Also, for no good reason, makes me think that you often hear of Tudor watches being referred to as "Rolex Tudor", especially by people who are selling them, but you rarely, if ever, hear of a "Swatch Omega"!)
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Re: Who is at the top of the watch tree?

Post by Amor Vincit Omnia »

Kip wrote:I will spend some time looking at this as it looks very interesting.

Not sure I can grasp a "World Watch Report" that includes only 40 brands though.
It does seem a little restrictive doesn't it?

Just to pull a few names out of the hat...where's Christiaan v.d. Klaauw when it comes to Haute Horlogerie?...Piaget?....Roger Smith?
Hey, and where's my Nomos? :lol:
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Re: Who is at the top of the watch tree?

Post by Loddonite »

As this is a commercial product I imagine that the restriction to only 40 brands is partly to simplify data gathering and partly, by concentrating on the larger brands that there is sufficient data to create a meaningful report. Including and analysing someone like , for example, McGonigle who create very few watches wouldn't add much to the information that can be sold.

I think it's fascinating that they split the brands into strata. Some of them straddle (in my mind) more than one category - some of Tag's watches certainly deserve to be considered alongside Rolex ... and Montblanc, for all my personal prejudice about plastic pens, have two in-house chronograph movements. I suspect it is the statistician's natural tendency to group subjects that is responsible.

Another snippet that I found interesting... that in the Haute Horlogerie section the market share figures show that Patek Phillipe are No.2 (given that IWC are in that grouping it's no surprise to me that they are first). I had thought that PP were very, very exclusive, but they outsell Zenith and JLC. Shows how much I know :problem:
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Re: Who is at the top of the watch tree?

Post by redd »

Too subjective tbh, unless going on price as the main criteria.

An Aston Martin or Ferrari will spend a lot more time in the garage than a Honda and cost a lot more to maintain. Yeah they use higher quality materials, but for their core purpose (are no better made). Are PP's really more reliable than top end Seiko.
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Re: Who is at the top of the watch tree?

Post by Amor Vincit Omnia »

redd wrote:Are PP's really more reliable than top end Seiko.
Hard to be more reliable or accurate, so it comes down to aesthetics, materials and complications. But I read somewhere (can't remember where) that high-end HH pieces, especially the grandes complications, are too delicate for daily wear, notwithstanding the insurance risk. Which is why such a lot of them live in collectors' vaults. And if your PP does go wrong, it'll cost you more than the price of a nice new Omega to get it fixed. Wish I could remember where I read it!
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Re: Who is at the top of the watch tree?

Post by redd »

Amor Vincit Omnia wrote:
redd wrote:Are PP's really more reliable than top end Seiko.
Hard to be more reliable or accurate, so it comes down to aesthetics, materials and complications
So.....

if over engineered using unnecessary materials = top the the tree, then HH brands win.

If superbly engineered, highly accurate and fit for purpose i.e. daily wear = top of the tree, who is?

Is there a better mechanical watch than a high end Seiko?
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Re: Who is at the top of the watch tree?

Post by LuceDVS »

i am really a fan of ulysse nardin... i think the history of this brand with the accuracy of the early mechanical clocks is really interesting!
it's since i saw a caprice that i dream of buying one- i'm a sucker for gold (and in secret also for a little kitsch) :P but i'm afraid it's gonna stay a dream..
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Re: Who is at the top of the watch tree?

Post by robert75 »

These kind of discussions tend to get very ugly because for the most part they depend on how much cash you have in your pocket. Personally I wouldnt wear a "High end" watch on a daily basis however I would say a 3-400 pounds CW, Tissot, etc...... I do know people however who will wear their several grand Rolex, Tag, IWC etc every day because in their opinion "Whats the point in having a watch if you dont wear it?"

If we are talking reliable and value for money then I would have honestly thought any 50 pound Japanese Quartz would win hands down but those of us who have an interest in watches are more interested in the looks, build, history etc...

I always think its a little pointless these watch magazines telling us about these 10 grand watches other than something to read in the airport lounge.