Ariel Adams, author of The World’s Most Expensive Watches speaks on Luxurylaunches

The man behind The World’s Most Expensive Watches book is a happy man. And he has every reason to be. Ariel Adams, founder of the hugely successful watch blog and website aBlogtoWatch.com has penned his first book, that deserves a place on every man’s coffee table or bookshelf. The book presents some of the most extravagant timepieces starting from $200,000 that every gentleman needs to indulge in, at least once in a lifetime.

ariel-adamsIn his book, Ariel Adams picks 102 of truly exceptional timepieces from the last decade, mostly new watches and some classic models that sold for stellar amounts at auction. After some hands-on time with Ariel Adams, he fills Luxurylaunches in with how the value of a watch construes the relevance of craftsmanship and complexity of design as well as the importance of exclusivity, prestige and collectability.

Here are the excerpts from the interview:

Hublot LaFerrari
Hublot LaFerrari
The World’s Most Expensive Watches book covers watches starting at $200,000 and above. How did you select the watches to include in the book as the watch industry frequently introduces models at this price and above?
After deciding that $200,000 was a good threshold price for an “expensive watch,” I first needed to personally reconcile with the fact that there was no possible way of including ALL the $200,000 plus watches in a single book. The funny part of course is that there are SO many watches priced at this level. With the idea of having about 100 watches in the book, it all came down to narrowing the focus. One thing that I felt strongly about is that the most modern watches are probably the most interesting.

Chopard L.U.C Tourbillon
Chopard L.U.C Tourbillon

After coming up with a list of around 200 watches it became clear that I needed to select those pieces that really helped illustrate what you can expect with a $200,000 plus timepiece. That also meant making sure that the most important brands were represented, and also that no company was too disproportionately mention in book. Working with the list and having to make selections really allowed me to realize that only someone with a lot of knowledge about watches, how they are made, and what gives them value could have even attempted at putting such a list together.

Seeing The World’s Most Expensive Watch hands-on allowed me appreciate how interesting the final selection is, and I feel confident that pretty much anything you might expect to see in an ultra-high-end watch is represented in the book.

Audemars Piguet Grande Complication
Audemars Piguet Grande Complication

What does a watch at these price levels have that less expensive watches will probably not be able to offer?
That is a difficult to answer question because price isn’t always strictly related to value in the world of luxury watches. What I mean is that a lot of people can argue that you might get more in a $150,000 watch versus something that costs $300,000. The first part of The World’s Most Expensive Watches is actually a few chapters on the “sources of value” in watches at this level. In those pages I try to explain what elements go into these watches that make them so expensive. That really boils down to a few key areas such as mechanical complication, artistic effort, precious materials, and exclusivity.

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Franck Muller Aeternitas Mega
Franck Muller Aeternitas Mega

More specifically, I think it is safe to say that when you ascend to these price levels you aren’t just getting something precious or complicated, but something very rare and exclusive. This is where the most niche models go. What might be a limited edition of 50 pieces at $150,000 each, might be a limited edition of just 5 pieces, or even just one piece at prices over $200,000 and way up. Pretty much everything priced at $1,000,000 and up is a one-of-a-kind model – though there are exceptions.

Richard Mille RM56
Richard Mille RM56

Are there materials and mechanical movement features available at these price levels that aren’t available for less money?
Again that is a good question, but it is difficult to answer in an absolute way. I will say that, all of the world’s most complicated watches are certainly $200,000 and up. When you are talking about complexity like that, you aren’t just talking about a movement that has one complicated feature in addition to the time, but a series of them in a highly complex movement. Some of these movements are known as “grand complications,” a traditional terms used for mechanical watches that offer the time, perpetual calendar, chronograph, minute repeater, and sometimes other functions. It is pretty safe to say that most mechanical watches that stack features on top of one another are going to be extremely expensive. Having said that, some of the watches in the book only indicate the time.
Some of the world’s most expensive watches also feature exotic complications. These range from ways of indicating the time in a unique way, or complex astronomical functions. There is a complication called a tourbillon that is a regulation system that spins on its own axis. You can get those for under $200,000 – but to make them more expensive sometimes brands simply include more than one tourbillon.

George Daniels Co Axial
George Daniels Co Axial

When it comes to exotic or precious materials there is little you can only get at these high prices. Of course when it comes to things like diamonds the more money you spend the more diamonds (and larger ones) you can find on the surface of a watch. Some brands go ultra-modern when it comes to exotic materials so rather than traditionally precious things you find repurposed industrial or aerospace materials made especially for a luxury timepiece.

Urwerk UR 203
Urwerk UR 203

How important is exclusivity or limited production in The World’s Most Expensive Watches?
Really important actually. My years of research and experience has taught me that the people investing many hundreds of thousands of dollars in a watch don’t want to get something anyone else has. Exclusivity is perhaps the most important consideration people think about when buying luxury products, even if they don’t know it. People buy expensive things partially because they know not everyone else will be able to have them. Taking that to a logical extremely, the world’s most expensive watches aren’t only artificially limited, but often the types of products that no one can replicate even if they tried. Here we are talking about talent and skill exclusivity, where a timepiece contains a mechanical movement and perhaps some artistic embellishments that just one person, or a small set of people, can produce.

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Greubel Forsey Invention Piece 2 Quadruple Tourbillon
Greubel Forsey Invention Piece 2 Quadruple Tourbillon

In collectible or investment-worthy watches it is all about mixing quality with aesthetics and exclusivity. Something of a very high quality has inherent value, but something of a very high quality that is also totally rare or one-of-a-kind also has emotional value because there is just one of them available. Understanding that concept should help people appreciate how important exclusivity is in the value proposition of the world’s most expensive watches.

MB&F HM4 Final Edition
MB&F HM4 Final Edition

Are all The World’s Most Expensive Watches investment-worthy? Or will consumers buying these watches have different long-term ownership experiences?
In many ways watches are lot like cars when it comes to depreciation. While people want to think that their beloved automobiles will increase in value, most do not. That even applies to today’s most expensive cars because being rare does not assure long term investment value. The same concepts directly translate to timepieces; if you go out and buy a brand new watch in the $200,000 plus range, you have no guarantees that your watch will be worth as much or more later. Simple economics implies that only the most rare of items in a category will go up in value. Thus, even among already rare watches, only the most rare will end up retaining or increasing in value.

Vianney Halter Deep Space Tourbillon
Vianney Halter Deep Space Tourbillon

There are some things that consumers can do if they are concerned about value retention or in the hope that their timepiece will increase in value. Well the first thing is to understand that even the most exemplary high-end watches that increase in value, do not do so until long after they are originally purposed. Surveying the watch auction market one can learn a few things about the mentality of those who collect high-end watches. First of course is that they value exclusivity. Unique or very rare models are going to have the best chances of increasing in value. What is also really important is association with a strong brand name that people recognize (and ideally continues to be in operation). The savvy collector will also be able to find undervalued items that should probably be worth more than they cost. At $200,000 and up this is of course a tricky thing to do since the amounts we are discussing are already so high. Having said that, it isn’t out of the question that a $250,000 watch today – that is amazing, can’t increase in value just a few years from now if it is no longer being made and highly desired.

Ariel’s book is available on Amazon.