They begin this magazine with a section they call Lookout, which comments on various expensive things to do. Today (October 6, 2013) my wife pointed out a small section entitled “Market Report” that talked about travel watches. We both have travelled a lot, and quickly learned to take minimum luggage, and nothing that you would mind losing or having lifted in the subway. The section begins with the statement “Serious travelers deserve a world-class watch that can seamlessly keep track of up to 24 time zones.”
First of all, one only needs a watch that can keep track of 24 time zones if one is unable to add and subtract. Secondly, the need for a watch is disappearing, because ones friendly cell/smart phone always has the time prominently featured. If one chooses not carry such a thing (I am often guilty), in urban areas a clock is usually visible without spending a lot of effort finding one, and in the country people will guess the time for you. But these days, due to such things as quartz crystals and small efficient batteries, if one wants a travel watch it is possible to find a nice low-cost one that if lost, can be replaced with little pain. My wife is in love with the Timex Indiglo (see photo), which keeps very good time, is very easy to read (even including a light on the dial), and has the contemporary “large” look. It is not the cheapest watch available, but can be had for about $30.00.
So what does the Market Report suggest? Such things as the Girard-Perregaux Shopping World Timer watch at $26,100, the Dior Timepieces Christal 8 watch at $63,000, and the Cartier Tortue Multiple Time Zones XXL watch, price on request. Or you can purchase a Rolex for between $10 ,000 and $70,000 and try to look like Roger Federer or a successful financier (incidentally, excellent Rolex copies are available for about $150.)
Like most people, when I travel, I like to experience the local scene, which means I occasionally find myself wandering through rather questionable neighborhoods and taking local subways and buses. The median income in the world is approximately $2000 per year, which is about $5.50 per day. That means that half the world is living on that or less. If I were living on five dollars a day, a $50,000 watch is equivalent to 10,000 days, or 27 years of income. If I was constrained to such an income and saw a tourist walking down the street with what I recognized as a Dior Timepieces Christal 8 watch, would I be tempted to appropriate it? Well…………..
I was not born to money, and I am not impressed by people who make a show of their wealth, so I am biased about luxury goods. But I am sure that if I had $100,000 (or $100,000,000,000) to throw around, I would not buy a new $50.000 watch, especially to take travelling. I would much rather support a nice villager in India who was unable to work for 27 years (or perhaps more).