Friday, May 23, 2008

So watch it

My friend L told me last week that, in a week when everyone with an ounce of humanity in them was talking about the earthquake in Sichuan, all one of her colleagues (a lawyer) was focused on - and telling everyone about - was this US$20,000 watch he was going to buy.

I had a discussion about this today with my friend A, also a lawyer, who said that one of his clients, a banker, had so many watches, all worth at least US$20,000, that he kept them in a bag and wore a different one every day. He was arguing that this was an acceptable moral choice (although secretly I know he agreed with me that it is, in fact, the worst kind of self-regarding selfishness).

17 comments:

magicman said...

another banker has a lot of $20,000 watches. Now these are not things that I am overly familiar with but apparently you have to have a little artificial battery powered arm in your safe (where else are you going to keep all these expensive watches). The watches need the movement to be kept wound and keep the mechanism in tip-top form.

All his watches were also enormous necessitating special new shirts with cuffs cut to cater for them.

Someone stop the madness.

Grande Poobah said...

aha - shirts with big cuffs? Does he look like Harry Hill? I do hope so.

the world of big swinging ticks

p the p (my favourite in flight entertainment) is a vintage luxury watch collector. To be fair, these are very beautiful pieces with wonderful engineering that's gone into them etc. I like to think that he realises what a ridiculous pass time this is, but i guess in the super charged world of investment banking one struggles to keep a sense of proportion...

ANYWAY, when I visited his London pad, as part of my holiday fling, I was intrigued to find a display cabinet holding these rolexes and so on, worn as if on artificial wrists. As if this weren't enough, after about 10 seconds of staring at this piece of furniture the things started rotating to keep them wound.... I think I was lucky to get dinner bought for me as I couldn't stop laughing......

Mummy said...

When shopping for Christmas gifts in Lane Crawford I saw this box-type thing. having no idea what it was for, I asked the assistant. Apparently it was a watch box, where you could put each of your watches in its own little partition covered in velvet.

It had 20 spaces for watches...

LottieP said...

Even though I admit to having more than one watch myself, and not all of them cheap (though I wouldn't dream of spending US$20K on a watch), I can't help admiring my father-in-law's approach. He's had the same old Casio watch for years. When asked if he wants a new one, he says, with perfect logic, "This one still tells the time. Why do I need a new one"?

He is also responsible for a joke I've used on po-faced Australian immigration officals with some success: "If you look like your passport photograph, you're too ill to travel".

LottieP said...

PS big swinging ticks - GP, you get my vote for best pun of the day!

Mancsoulsister said...

material wealth and so called 'status symbols' kind of leave me cold - I just don't see the point. The 20k watches are made in the same Chinese sweatshops as the $30 high street ones anyway these days. All one huge commercial con! So I am right there with Lottie's dad (apart from the fact I don't actually own a watch!).

Grande Poobah said...

Can't claim it for big swinging tick - bizarrely it was a term used in the weekend press the same weekend that i had met p the p on the plane

kismet, no?

LottieP said...

Hello, MSS. I know how this makes me look, but I do find myself a bit beguiled by watches sometime. If you are going to spend a lot of money on a personal object then it should be something that you are going to get a lot of use out of. And as my client (also a friend) pointed out, maybe the guy about to spend US$20K had already given that much to the Sichuan relief fund and I was judging him without knowing him at all.

But, but... if you have more than one the argument above just doesn't work. And many people don't get paid that in a year, or in a lifetime. So it's still wrong.

Special cuffs for a supersized watch, Magicman? And a special hat for the man's supersized head.

Grande Poobah said...

hmmmm......

at the risk of provoking argument, but pace previous posts...

if you replace the word "watch" with "shoes" where does that take us? admittedly you do need more than one pair, and they tend not to cost $20k a throw but....

Mummy said...

Watches and shoes are completely different. You don't need a watch for every outfit, watches don't wear out or need new tips and heels, and they don't go out of fashion (at least good ones don't)

GP, get back in your (shoe) box!

nmj said...

Hey Lottie, I've been reading your blog recently, I enjoy your words.

Re. watches, I have two, a Guess and a Sekonda, the total worth probably currently less than £50. Their straps are dog-eared, but they work!

I did have a second-hand (excuse terrible pun) Rado at one point, years ago, my mum gave it to me, a gift from my step-dad to her, but she just didn't wear it, but I couldn't be doing with replacing the battery as it requires specialist sending away over-priced nonsense, so it has now stopped, though it is lovely looking, but nowhere near 20 000 dollars, maybe 500.

I honestly don't understand anyone spending 20 000 dollars on a watch, but people with that kind of money have different philosophies entirely.

LottieP said...

Hello, NMJ, nice to see you here. Watches are a peculiarly personal thing, aren't they? There's probably nothing else that you own that you look at more often, or rely on so unthinkingly.

Although I'm sure it makes me seem hypocritical given the above, I will come clean - my watch is a Gucci, a stainless steel bracelet watch with a beautiful grey face and I really love it. It cost me US$800 and I bought it in a shopping mall in Providence, Rhode Island, in 2002, a few days before I got my job in Hong Kong.

In context, this was a lot to me at the time, but still affordable. As I'm sure US$20,000 is to my friend L's colleague, who started all this off.

Mancsoulsister said...

I am with mummy, you need shoes to go with your outfits. While I have nowhere near as many shoes and my Imelda mother (who has two shoe wardrobes), I do own a few pairs. I tend to go for more classic styles (apart from the infamous silver platform boots) so that I get years of wear out of them.

Lottie - 800 dollars is more than i would pay for a watch BUT it is a lot lot less than the very excessive 20k and you are obviously still wearing it so... It is my experience that people who spend 20k on watches are not the same people that donate 20k to disaster relief funds but maybe I am being uncharitable

magicman said...

Seeing as we have strayed onto shoes, banker from Comment 1 above allegedly also has over GBP500,000 in handmade leather shoes and a special room for them to boot (pardon the pun).

I know for a fact that he once went into a music store in NY and bought over 200 cds in one hit.

ho hum

Grande Poobah said...

Magic man - you move in rarified circles indeed of the super-rich. So - this moves it beyond a personal indulgence to a nasty bout of affluenza (see Oliver James) and possibly someone who has lost sight of the value of money and/or any usual reference points for what normal is?

Mancsoulsister said...

wow half a million on shoes. That is deinitely losing perspective on the value of money.

I am very curious to know if this person has ever donated a penny to any kind of charity or relief fund - would you know?

LottieP said...

Magicman, you have raised the stakes dramatically as US$1m now becomes the price of indulgence.

I think we are all curious to learn what sort of individual this person is. What fresh revelations of excess have you got up your sleeve?