What Makes Watches So Expensive?

In the world of watch collecting, this is a question that comes up time and time again. There is a number of reasons that one watch is more expensive than another, and the watch market can be quite volatile.

However, one important distinction to be made before we begin is that there is a considerable difference between “expensive” and “overpriced.” While they may not be mutually exclusive, some watches are just not worth their price tag. Let’s take a look at a few things that make timepieces so expensive to buy.

They are Expensive to Develop

Frequently in this business, you hear about a particular watch whose movement took years to perfect. And while that sounds rather unbelievable, it can be true. It seems strange that a company would put so much effort into a process that is already well known, but many of these watchmakers are doing so to stand out from the crowd. That way, they can call their product unique and original.

Even in today’s high-paced engineering landscape, it can take years to model and map out specific clock movements, even with computer models. This can be a highly time-consuming process, and it isn’t cheap to run so many tests and analyses. Something a complicated as a watch movement can be complicated to perfect.

These specific movements are not only challenging to create, but they are also tough to make in a way that lasts. All of these trials require extensive testing to make sure that they are creating a machine that is not only precise but built to last.

Low Quantities and High Costs

When cheaper watch companies develop a new model, they don’t only make 50 of them. Generally, these companies are producing them by the millions. Because this is the case, they can spread out the initial cost of research and tooling across each unit. Even if they are spending millions to create the watch, that shows up as just pennies on each unit because so many are produced and sold.

However, that is not generally the case with luxury watchmakers. Most of these products are created to be a part of a limited line. These manufacturers must invest in parts, research, labor, and tools, among other things. That means that each unit sold needs to be sold at a higher price to recoup the cost of creating the line in the first place. Not to mention, these luxury brands aren’t using cheaper or more affordable materials that the mass-produced brands are using. In most cases, the materials they are using are of a higher quality and thus reflect the materials’ cost in their prices.


There are many reasons that watches can be so expensive. In most cases, it is costly to create a line of watches, there are fewer luxury watches produced, and they are generally of a higher quality. All of these elements come together to make watch collecting a potentially expensive hobby but one that could be quite worthwhile over time.

Simon Garnier
Simon Garnier

Collecting watches started as a hobby for me over twenty years ago. I now own many fine pieces and I'm always in the market for a good deal.

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