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This nugget from was mined by koimaster:

Why Smaller Watches are More Expensive
Unlike the world of automobiles, where a small car is less expensive than a large one, a small watch may very well cost more than its larger counterpart.

Raw materials and added value

The problems encountered by watchmakers are quite different than those confronted by other industries, for example the automobile industry. In the production of a car, the cost of its raw materials represents a very important factor. A small car requires 600 to 700 kg of raw materials while double that amount is necessary to produce a large automobile. The purchase and storage of the raw material is also a significant investment. The difference in cost is thus obvious. In addition, a small car is usually simpler than a big one in terms of finishing, accessories and comfort.

For watches, unless covered in diamonds, the cost of the material is negligible in relation to the added value in terms of the human labor necessary to produce the finished pieces. The cost of machining and assembling a watch is quite high relative to the size of the object. A small watch is no less sophisticated in terms of finishing or comfort than its big brother and requires the same time to complete it.

Smaller series

One of the main reasons why small watches are more expensive is that they are usually made in smaller quantities. Ladies' watches are often tied to fashion trends, but even if they are everyday pieces or expensive jewelry items, they are made in lesser quantities than their masculine counterparts. The cases are usually different, although the movement may be the same in both watches. Paradoxically, it is not the movement that contributes the most to the cost of a watch, but its case. Small-series production of cases in precious metals, or materials which are hard to work with, adds the biggest chunk to the price of a watch.

Manufacturing difficulties

Small timepieces are more difficult to manufacture than large ones for several reasons. It is harder to be as precise with small pieces. The watchmaker must spend more time, take extra precautions and use more expensive tools. A ladies' watch is not made by simply reducing in a linear manner the dimensions of a man's watch. The same distances must be preserved between the hands, dial and crystal. Women's watches are subjected to the same forces and shocks as their masculine cousins but the resistance of the pieces cannot be diminished in proportion to the dimensions for the simple reason that it would reduce their strength.

Let's take an example of the Eiffel Tower. This immense metal structure is 300 meters high and weighs 7000 tons. If we wanted to make a model smaller by a factor of 1000, i.e. 30 centimeters in height, what would be the weight of our miniature tower? The height is divided by 1000 so the other two dimensions would be reduced by the same factor. The reduction in weight would then be 1000 x 1000 x 1000 or 10003 = 1 billion.

Therefore, we must divide 7000 tons by 1 billion which gives 7 grams. This is the theoretical weight of the miniature tower. However, if we wanted to build it, we could not easily do so. The beams would be thinner than a cigarette paper. The rivets would be smaller than the diameter of a strand of hair. It doesn't take an engineer to understand that this 7-gram Eiffel Tower would be impossible to make.


The diameter of a feminine watch is about half that of a men's piece. It follows then that its volume would be eight times smaller (2 x 2 x 2). The volume of the spring is also eight times smaller as is the resulting available energy. However, friction does not diminish in the same proportions. Each parameter varies following its own particular known laws. In the end, the ladies' timepiece is a compromise which works, but costs more. There are no simple rules when it comes to making a good timekeeper. There is always a list of specifications desired by the manufacturer and the end-product will be more or less successful depending on the skill of the constructor, his experience and perhaps a little bit of luck.

In the world of watches, one thing is sure. The smaller the piece, the bigger the price.
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