A watch only the rich can buy

Ever wonder why a high quality replica watches costs over $100,000 and who wears them? You will be surprised.

I was asked on the sunset cruise the other day why Chanel bags are so expensive. I found myself explaining the virtues of the brand’s quality of materials, impeccable craftsmanship, incredibly rich heritage and classic yet cutting edge design. The next day I found myself wearing a very expensive watch that I borrowed to check and take pictures. Someone asked me about it, and his eyes doubled when I said it was a $120,000 watch. He asked why, and I found myself repeating the Chanel bag story, but in more detail.

You see, watches worth $100,000 or more are all about legacy and knowledge passed down from generation to generation. They are all made of high-quality materials, not only for the case and bracelet, but also for the movement components. So is classic but cutting-edge design – some of the world’s finest watchmakers are continually reinventing the proverbial wheel and developing new, space-age-looking mechanics with incredible performance and precision.

Not all replica luxury watches are created equal, and those that retail for big bucks are a cut above the rest. Of course, some of them are dripped on diamonds or precious stones, which makes them very expensive, but others are all about the stuff inside the watch. These are coveted by watch collectors, and often the richest people in the world, who love watches and sell out as soon as they hit the market. That could mean being on a waiting list, or it could mean being one of the one-of-a-kind or extremely limited-edition “choices.” Befriend the right brand, buy a lot of its watches over the course of a few years, and you never know – one day you might be that super-rich and buy that insanely expensive masterpiece for your wrist.

Here, we take a look at five new watches this year that the world’s richest watch lovers can hope to get their hands on.

MB&F Horological Machine No. 9 (HM9) Sapphire Vision
Swiss independent watch brand MB&F is favored by collectors. The brand has been releasing incredible new 3D timepieces with space age-like shapes or cases resembling owls, dogs, frogs and other animals. The mechanisms inside these timepiece machines are equally astounding. This year’s Horological Machine No. 9 (HM9) Sapphire Vision watch has a sapphire case that allows viewing of the complex movement and two balance wheels from any angle. A cylindrical tube on the front of the watch displays the hours and minutes. Making such an intricate sapphire case required hundreds of hours of milling with diamond tools.

Hublot Big Bang MP -11 Blue Sapphire
Another brand that focuses on R&D is Hublot. This year, the Swiss brand has launched the Big Bang MP -11 Blue Sapphire watch with a case entirely manufactured in-house in the brand’s research laboratory. Creating a new sapphire colour is no mean feat, but Hublot does it perfectly. In fact, this year it also released an orange sapphire. Featuring a transparent pale blue sapphire case, the Big Bang MP-11 is powered by the same in-house high-tech movement that provides a power reserve of 14 days.

Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso Hybris Mechanica Calibre 185 Quadriptyque
This year, Swiss watch brand Jaeger-LeCoultre celebrates the 90th anniversary of the famous Reverso, whose case rotates in its cradle to reveal a second dial. To celebrate this watch, originally created for polo players in 1931, Jaeger-LeCoultre released the world’s first watch with four sides on a double-sided case and double-sided cradle. Called the Reverso Hybris Mechanica Calibre 185 Quadriptyque, this watch combines 11 complications such as minute repeater, perpetual calendar and complex celestial display, and has 12 patents. This is the most complicated Reverso watch ever made by the brand. It also offers three lunar displays (including the conjunction cycle, the dragon cycle, and the anomalous cycle) that have never been presented simultaneously on a watch. The movement was six years in the making.

Richard Mille RM60-01 Automatic Flyback Les Voiles de St. Barth
Richard Mille’s new RM60-01 Automatic Flyback Les Voiles de St. Barth Limited Edition has just debuted in June 2021. In honor of the sailing races the brand has sponsored over the years, the new timepiece is an automatic flyback chronograph, which means that when an event is completed, the hands automatically fly back to the starting point to restart timing without human intervention. The watch is powered by the RMAC2 movement and offers an oversized date display and calendar. More importantly, it provides directions for the northern and southern hemispheres. The world time hand points to the sun, and the rotating bezel is made of carbon TPT®, which can be set to indicate the local hour on the bezel. A 60-minute countdown at 9:00 provides additional nautical inspiration.

Vacheron Constantin Traditionnelle Split Seconds Chronograph
Vacheron Constantin has launched a series of complicated watches this year that will delight any collector. But it’s the Traditionnelle Split Second Chronograph Ultra-Thin, powered by an incredibly complex movement, that stands out. Limited to 15 pieces, this watch is powered by the ultra-thin self-winding calibre 3500, made up of 473 parts. Offering a split-seconds chronograph with a 60-minute counter, this 42.5mm platinum watch can time events that start at the same time but end at different times, such as a horse race. This is one of the hardest complexities to build, requiring hundreds of hours of manual finishing and assembly. One of the nuances of this movement, which allows the brand to achieve its ultra-thinness, is a peripheral gold rotor that wraps around the outside of the movement, rather than a traditional rotor.