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High End Watches: What Reasons Makes Them Very Expensive?

High end watches are exclusive and more than just a simple timepiece. Some buy them for pride and others sought for a taste.
May 20, 2024

Every watch is different and a certain watch isn’t always equal to another watch. They are not made identical even though they are in the same brand’s collection. Combining craftsmanship and creativity, that’s when watchmakers create what so-called high end watches — they are more than just simple timepieces. They are designed with optimal quality to last a lifetime with stunning beauty and advanced performance. Every designer has their own character in representing every symbol of taste in the art of watchmaking.

Some people buy a watch for a sense of pride and worth. We’ve seen a lot of well-known figures wear avant-garde watches. Patek Philippe was used by Queen Victoria while Tom Cruise put Audemars Piguet on his wrist. Barack Obama, Brad Pitt, and Leonardo DiCaprio also chose their own favorite timepiece which is a Tag Heuer to build their charisma. They definitely pick out top luxury watch brands, not the one that is mediocre.

What makes high end watches so expensive?

At this point, you may be wondering, what exactly makes a high end watch expensive up to thousands or even millions of dollars? I get this question frequently so I would put a number of reasons why these particular and exclusive watches are expensive. 


A small thing can cost a lot. It is crucial to understand that, while watches are small, they didn’t evolve in a single day. Luxury watch manufacturers have their own R&D departments that will create new models, new materials, etc. A team is going to spend much more time on a certain issue that is already resolved, but they want to accomplish this in “various ways.”

As watch movement is so tiny, developing that part can take challenging work. It is a real difficulty to make a movement composed of hundreds of parts so that they remain precise and continue to beat. The gears, jewels, balanced wheels, and other parts need to be well-connected in such a way in a small place underneath the watch dial. Therefore, watchmaking could even take years to do this.  

The watch brands could just be satisfied with current innovation, but a watch with fresh upgrades should always be developed to increase the market demand. It could be something that relates to recent technology to show that they are never compromised. The company requires highly qualified individuals, including watchmakers and other engineers with skills. Not many have the ability and the knowledge to do so. Therefore, millions of dollars are invested just to develop new movements and other watch components.

To make it clearer, let’s take this watch as an illustration. In order to produce a high-quality Patek Philippe watch, nine months is needed. It may take more than two or up to eight years to create more complex timepieces. Take Patek Philippe Grandmaster Chime Ref. 6300A-010. This wristwatch costs 31.19 million US dollars while the process of development, manufacture, and assembly took an astounding one hundred thousand hours.

A good movement says the price

A good and advanced movement is extremely expensive. Remember that there is a big difference between the quartz movements of low-cost watches and a good mechanical movement, regardless of either in-house or movements off-the-shelf.

Watch enthusiasts would more appreciate when the brands created movements in-house as it indicates that they extend far beyond and takes the art of watchmaking seriously. The in-house movement would make the watch’s price become fairly high since professional watchmakers and decent workspaces are indeed needed. On the other hand, it might be cheaper to buy a good mechanical movement than making your own. Nevertheless, a basic ETA movement still costs about $250. That is hard to compare it to a $10- $20 Japanese quartz movement.

Limited Production

Limited edition watches are practically self-explanatory — it is limited to a certain number of productions for a particular event, such as a brand anniversary. This provides a sense of exclusiveness that adds value as only a group of people can have the watch. 

With that being said, investment is often worthwhile for limited edition watches. Let’s take one of the luxury pieces of Richard Mille as an example that was worn by a well-known Spanish tennis player, RM27-04 Tourbillon. This exclusive watch is only available in 50 pieces as a celebration of the 10th anniversary of the partnership between Rafael Nadal and Richard Mille. Limited manufacturing and exclusivity are, then, two reasons why watches are so pricey. Could you imagine being one of the wearers of this grand-master watch? 


A chronograph, GMT function, moon phase, date window, and others. A watch might have more than two complications and that would also cost more than ones with simple complications. On those extremely complicated watches, there are only a few individuals in the world with the extraordinary skills needed to produce these movements — a durable and reliable movement to make every complication work properly. 

A complex complication would result in very expensive manufacturing costs, and it is something that the end customer eventually needs to pay. Let’s take an example. To celebrate the 260th anniversary of the Brand, Vacheron Constantin introduced its Reference 57260 watch in 2015. The model is considered the most intricate timepiece in the world with 57 complications, 2,826 parts, and 31 hands. To top it off, the watchmaker took eight years to assemble this watch.

Brand Reputation

We certainly can’t ignore the brands while talking of high end watches and why they are so costly. Many of us desire certain brands that people know about and stand for. Whereas some individuals purchase watches only for the sake of the brand and for the prestige that everyone knows what watch they wear. Others also buy a certain brand because they know the company’s long history and the detail for which they put their goods.

Talking about the brand reputation, we surely cannot miss out the Richard Mille — a luxury watch brand that sets its voyage with technical achievement and fashion breakthroughs since it was founded just twenty years ago. Not only do they offer amazement through their watches but they also cover watches with high-quality performance. The core elements of the watches are the key to the price tag of Richard Mille watches. No wonder that their watches come in high price tags with over $50,000 on the low end.

In addition to that, Richard Mille is also known for its high-profile endorsements from celebrities, like Rafael Nadal and Jackie Chan. That became one part of Richard Mille’s high end watches for men that allures watch enthusiasts. With all of that being said, who in the world would reject having a piece of Richard Mille circling on the wrist?  A brand name does say something when it comes to popularity.

In the end, high end watches are not just a name with a skyrocketing price. There are several reasons that affect why their existence is more valuable than others, be it from inside the watch itself or the manufacturing process. So, which high end watches have attracted your heartstring?

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