You paid how much?? Five watches that look cheaper than they areFergus Nash
In modern times, the words “stealth wealth” get thrown around a lot. Usually reserved for sophisticated watches often made of white metals like platinum, the idea is that your watch only hints at its true value. On the completely opposite end of the spectrum, there are those cheap watches that do everything they can to look more expensive, throwing plastic jewels and gold-coloured coatings on some of the flimsiest materials possible. How about watches which look like the latter but are priced like the former? Let’s take a look at five watches that look way cheaper than they are, and don’t give a damn what you think.
Hublot Big Bang Unico Sapphire – US$69,000
On a technical level, Hublot’s mastery of sapphire can only be admired. As the second hardest material on Earth, the only way it can be cut and polished after being grown in the lab is with diamonds, and lots of them. You can’t just throw money at it and expect a solution either, with plenty of experience and craftsmanship needed to ensure the end product is free from imperfections. All that said, someone who knows nothing about watches will most likely put the Hublot Big Bang Unico Sapphire in the same category as a Swatch Jellyfish or its modern equivalent. With a skeletonised movement, crystal-clear case and a clear rubber strap, a brand new Swatch Clearly Gent will cost you just US$80. The same playful element being shared by a high-end luxury company and a budget-oriented one isn’t a bad thing, it’s just entertaining to see how they can go about achieving a similar look for such vastly different prices.
H. Moser & Cie. Swiss Alp Watch Final Upgrade – US$30,800
Can you imagine dropping tens of thousands on a watch only to be asked where you downloaded your watch face from? If your instinct would be to laugh rather than be insulted, then you would be the ideal customer for one of the H. Moser & Cie. Swiss Alp watches. There were quite a few varieties released as limited editions and all of them are officially sold out, however there seem to be a good amount of them floating around the second-hand market. The last of the series was the Swiss Alp Watch Final Upgrade, perfecting the joke with a Vantablack dial that absorbs 99.965% of light, and a small seconds display in the form of an Apple loading wheel.
Corum Bubble 47 Skull X-Ray – CHF 4,500
To a 10-year-old boy, this is probably going to be the coolest watch you could ever dream of. To an adult with a decent budget for a watch, this could also be the coolest watch you could ever dream of. Regardless of your particular taste, the Corum Bubble collection embraces every silly impulse that a human being could have. With an outlandishly big domed sapphire crystal inspired by the original Rolex Deep Sea Special from 1960, this 47mm behemoth features an X-Ray image of a human skull on the dial that’s magnified and distorted as it moves. Increasing the cool factor, it’s also entirely glow-in-the-dark. Corum are celebrating the same sense of fun that you would find at a market stall with a $20 no-name watch, but producing it with a quality and luxury standing that makes you grin.
Konstantin Chaykin Joker – ~US$30,000
The reason that the Konstantin Chaykin Joker looks like a cheap watch isn’t necessarily because its design is based on a comic book villain, but also because it’s been copied countless times. Whenever I see ads pop up for sites like Wish, I’m almost guaranteed to see a counterfeit Joker watch listed for under $100. If someone’s watch education is somewhat lacking, it then makes sense that seeing a genuine Konstantin Chaykin Joker might just come across like a cheap novelty. Of course, the real thing is anything but a mere novelty, with truly impressive technological innovation as well as creative finishing and good humour combined.
Jaeger-LeCoultre Geophysic True Second – ~US$8,000
Although the Jaeger-LeCoultre Geophysic True Second may fit into the more traditional definition of stealth wealth, it does have a fairly obvious trait that may lead the uninitiated into assuming it’s just another cheap dress watch. Back before I was involved in the hobby, I was told that you could distinguish a good watch from a bad watch depending on whether it had a “tick” or a “sweep”. Of course that’s just blatantly false, especially now that we have such impressive quartz watches and affordable mechanical ones, but it’s still something that a lot of people assume. The Jaeger-LeCoultre Geophysic True Second features a dead-beat seconds complication, using an all-mechanical movement to tick the seconds hand at one beat per second. Although this complication existed before quartz and once represented the pinnacle of accuracy, it’s now just an added curiosity for this exquisite watch.