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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Have you ever wondered how much the materials cost in a high end watch...as a percentage of its price?

This came up after I noticed that watches with solid gold alloy cases are FAR more expensive by thousands of dollars...in spite of the fact that the actual gold content might only be an additional $800.00.

Strangely enough, there don't seem to be any solid brass cases available. An alloy of 74% Copper, 25% Zinc and 1% Tin would have a gold like colour and some corrosion resistance.
 

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Have you ever wondered how much the materials cost in a high end watch...as a percentage of its price?

This came up after I noticed that watches with solid gold alloy cases are FAR more expensive by thousands of dollars...in spite of the fact that the actual gold content might only be an additional $800.00.
This is true of any high-end luxury item. A typical 18k case has 50-80 grams of gold. Considering it's 18k, that's only 30-60 grams of actual gold, or 1-2 ounces. You're paying much more for the name, marketing, R&D in some cases and 'prestige' than you are for the raw material. Ex., does a $100,000 BMW actually have anywhere near even $50,000 in material? Not hardly.



Strangely enough, there don't seem to be any solid brass cases available. An alloy of 74% Copper, 25% Zinc and 1% Tin would have a gold like colour and some corrosion resistance.
Actually there are 5 or 6 manufactures that make a bronze case. And by mistake, a few of them did make a brass case when their supplier provided brass instead of bronze cases.

And you're right, when polished it does have a gold-like color. Here's my bronze Helson diver.

New & polished:


But the beauty of bronze is it's patina over time. Here's mine patina'd after a few months and some diving:
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
This is true of any high-end luxury item. A typical 18k case has 50-80 grams of gold. Considering it's 18k, that's only 30-60 grams of actual gold, or 1-2 ounces. You're paying much more for the name, marketing, R&D in some cases and 'prestige' than you are for the raw material. Ex., does a $100,000 BMW actually have anywhere near even $50,000 in material? Not hardly.
What do you think the markup is on high ends like Rolex/Omega/Breitling?

The difference between cost of production and retail price tag?

Must be nice to own a company that makes most of its profit from historical prestige.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Actually there are 5 or 6 manufactures that make a bronze case. And by mistake, a few of them did make a brass case when their supplier provided brass instead of bronze cases.

And you're right, when polished it does have a gold-like color. Here's my bronze Helson diver.
Thanks for the gorgeous photos. We dont ever see bronze or brass in a dress watch, huh?
 

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What do you think the markup is on high ends like Rolex/Omega/Breitling?

The difference between cost of production and retail price tag?

Must be nice to own a company that makes most of its profit from historical prestige.
What do you think the mark-up is on high end shoes & clothing? I bet it would put watches to shame. How about high end women's fragrances? Boy, that's gotta be astronomical!
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
What do you think the mark-up is on high end shoes & clothing? I bet it would put watches to shame. How about high end women's fragrances? Boy, that's gotta be astronomical!
There are some articles about this, but they dont mention watches.

Markups on fragrances must be nuts, yes...how much of the price is the glass bottle?

What would happen if a new Swiss Company made the finest watches imaginable, but had no advertising or luxurious packaging?

Would they survive...even with far lower prices than comparable quality companies? I doubt it.
 

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What do you think the markup is on high ends like Rolex/Omega/Breitling?

The difference between cost of production and retail price tag?

Must be nice to own a company that makes most of its profit from historical prestige.
I have no idea, and I honestly probably don't want to know. But remember, many of these companies also invest millions in future designs of movements that don't always make it. You mention Breitling, they worked for 10 years on their in-house movement before making it to production. Investments like that aren't cheap. I'm not justifying their prices as the do have high markups, only providing an extra unseen side to consider.

Thanks for the gorgeous photos. We dont ever see bronze or brass in a dress watch, huh?
No, way too maintenance intensive to have it always shining like gold whenever you'd want. You'd have to polish the bronze weekly at least, more if you wore it a lot.
 

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These types of threads come up often and the bottom line is when you pay over a few bucks for a watch you are buying luxury nothing more nothing less, just like Scott said earlier..... A BMW is not worth 50,000 and unless a watch has precious metals or stone it is not worth a fortune either. Now like anything else a product may be worth more because of design, special tooling, in house movements, etc., etc. But there are several watches out there that have reached ridiculous price levels and we the watch loving public buy these watches because we want the luxury and in most (not all) cases better quality.
I own several watches that IMO are not any better at telling time or more dependable then my trusty G or my Seiko monster, but slipping on that Rolex, Omega or my Breitling, sure does give me that "feel good feeling"
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 · (Edited)
No, way too maintenance intensive to have it always shining like gold whenever you'd want. You'd have to polish the bronze weekly at least, more if you wore it a lot.
Yes, I see what you mean. I have a pair of bronze candleholders which have turned brown with age...which is fine for candleholders but not for a luxury watch.

Brass however, does not seem to change colour that radically...esp if it includes 1% tin. This would use a stainless steel caseback to prevent any skin reactions.

I dont know about everyone else but I would love to see the Rolex pictured below in a brushed brass case.

The other watch pictured is a Chronoswiss with a solid gold alloy crown. Its the only non-diver I've found in bronze...so far.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 · (Edited)
the bottom line is when you pay over a few bucks for a watch you are buying luxury nothing more nothing less...
Another aspect is longevity. I love vintage watches from the 1930s but most of them look awful with half the gold plating worn off. Part of the 'feel good' factor is knowing its beauty is more than skin deep.
 

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The way I see it- if a brass watch case was a good idea it would have been (intentionally) used by now.
A better idea would be gold tungsten carbide.
One of my Masonic rings is made of it. It looks just like gold, is incredibly inexpensive ($70 compared to many hundreds of dollars), and practically as scratch-resistant as the ceramics that are popular now.
 
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I was actually thinking about this topic earlier today at work, specifically related to the IWC Portuguese Automatic. While I love the whole Portuguese Automatic line of watches, I like the white gold version the best, but have a hard time trying to figure out how they can charge nearly double the price over the stainless models ($23,700 vs $12,400). I can't afford either right now, so it doesn't really matter anyway, but it seems like a pretty excessive jump in price and would be pretty hard to justify even if I were in a position to spend that kind of money on a watch, especially since the primary reason I like the white gold version the most is because of the dial color and not the fact that it's made from a precious metal.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
I was actually thinking about this topic earlier today at work, specifically related to the IWC Portuguese Automatic. While I love the whole Portuguese Automatic line of watches, I like the white gold version the best, but have a hard time trying to figure out how they can charge nearly double the price over the stainless models ($23,700 vs $12,400).
Bingo...the cost of the gold is probably no more than $1000.

Technically, that should make the gold version only $13,400.

Gold is probably cast and stamped at a lower temperature to boot!
 
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