Keep it simple

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The Wallstreet Journal just published an article on simple automatic watches by Patek Philippe, Frederique Constant, Montblanc, Vacheron Constantin, and Tag Heuer. In Saturday’s Newspaper and Online.


Patek Philippe, Frederique Constant, Montblanc, Vacheron Constantin, and Tag Heuer in Wallstreet Journal

Complications: Not on my watch

After a decade of muscular dominance, feature-packed sports watches and complication-laden wrist trophies are being put aside in favor of simpler models. Think sleek and elegant timepieces that are smaller than a sundial, and can be operated without a Ph.D.

Elegant dress watches are at the moment coming through a very strong revival. You had a time until 2007, 2008, where a watch couldn’t be bigger. The bigger, the louder, the better. And now we are back to a lot of classic, refined and slim timepieces.

Watch-enthusiasts have been waving the flag of time-only simplicity for the past several months, and a Hondikee post about the Trésor De Ville prompted raves from its readers. “People are still freaking out over it,” said Benjamin Clymer, the site’s founder and executive editor. “They think it’s the most beautiful thing.”

As for the shift from complicated to simple, Mr. Clymer said, “It sort of goes along with the whole vintage revival, which, in many ways, is about the search for pure design.” Indeed, the quest for simplicity and elegance is partly retro-skewed. Certain popular dress watches are slightly tweaked versions of timepieces that were launched decades ago, like Patek Philippe’s Calatrava, based on a design from 1912.


Clockwise from top left: Patek Philippe,,Ref. 5227J Calatrava, $35,400, Patek Philippe at Tiffany & Co.,, 212-605-4036; Antea 365 A10 Watch, $943,; Star Classique Date Watch, $2,475, Montblanc,, 212-223-8888; Frederique Constant Slimline Automatic Watch, $2,495, ; Carrera Calibre 5 Automatic Watch, $2,900,; Patrimony Platinum Watch, $33,700, Vacheron Constantin,, 877-701-1755 F. Martin Ramin/The Wall Street Journal

The Frederique Constant Slimline Range consists of some of the evergreens in our collection and is exemplary to our Accessible Luxury positioning. These timepieces include latest technology, while maintaining their same successful, stylish and clean designs. The Frederique Constant Slimline is also a tribute to fine Geneva Watchmaking with its uniting style, elegance and high quality.

In past, I have written about Frederique Constant as a Smart Buy View. Modern luxury culture fueled by commercialism seems to advocate purchases of luxury items at very high prices. Some people seem to focus only on how expensive an item is instead of focusing on its value. This unfortunate practice has eroded the true traditions of luxury where price was ultimately the function of the intrinsic value and quality of the item being purchased.

By definition accessible luxury refers to items of luxury which are available at an accessible price, however to some the idea of accessibility seems alien when the subject of luxury is discussed. Take for example the undiscerning buyer who might have the financial wherewithal to purchase an expensive product without understanding the finer details about its intrinsic qualities. This sort of person merely understands luxury products as expensive items which are largely unavailable to most. With this in mind, why should anyone want a luxury item which is available to a greater number of people at an accessible price?

It is also what was picked-up by Tom Moris in his comment:

Peter: I admire so much what you all are doing at FC. With your rare and admirable attitude toward luxury and pricing, you are both returning to and reinventing the great tradition of true luxury. Your perspective captures the ancient and noble approach that luxury is about intrinsic quality and the owner’s experience of use. The contemporary redefinition of luxury in terms of exclusivity through inaccessibly high pricing is just a sad departure from the essence of what luxury is really all about. Your business philosophy is so refreshing. It’s also a return to purity, in my view. I own several watches from makers like Patek, Breguet, and JLC. I always make selections based on aesthetics and functionality and never on the exclusivity criterion. People who chase the highest price models just to set themselves apart are looking in the wrong places for their own self esteem. True self worth is manifested by the pursuit of quality that finds issues of inaccessibility to be utterly irrelevant. I look forward to my first opportunity to wear and enjoy a Frederique Constant. As an author and public philosopher, I appreciate immensely what you are doing, as I view it from afar. Good Wishes, Tom Morris

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