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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
following in the footsteps of one of my earlier posts i was just wondering about how people perceive the whole
Connoisseur bit to wearing a watch.

I remember reading an article by the watchsnob in askmen.com and whilst i disagree with alot of what he says about perception about certain brands i do agree with him in that even the higher end grand seiko's or anantas will only ever be perceived to be "just seikos and therefore cheap" by joe normal.

ill admit i dont wear mine to look rich. i just love the asthetics and love to talk about the watches i have and sell the seiko so to speak to anyone that would listen and maybe open some eyes.

i guess id just like to know what your perception of the brand is. whats the mark of a Connoisseur to you. why do you wear yours? do you like to challenge perception?

Pretty open ended set of questions. jsut fancied getting a debate going.

Mitesh
 

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Honestly the watch hobby is so deep you could spend years learning and collecting without any consideration for Connoisseur status. Even the thought of this makes me laugh.

For example, in my mind someone with in depth knowledge of and collection of say Seiko Automatic Chronographs, or Citizen electro-mechanical calibers, or modern day radio controlled quartz is as much of a connoisseur as someone with a collection of luxury watches with no appreciation for them other than the name on the dial. A true connoisseur will have a wide appreciation of the history and development of watches to the point of recognition that all brands have made innovations rather then excluding based on brand name or geographic site of manufacture.

Let's be realistic. All this tit for tat that goes on in forums and blogs is just foolishness and only intended to make people feel better for something they don't understand enough to truly appreciate. Its just the mentality of making yourself feel better by pushing everyone else down.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I thought as much. youre right there is a lot of tit for tat. we all have preferences some more than others.

fair play.
 

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This is a broad topic. I think the term connoisseur, in American usage at least, means a person who has deep knowledge and appreciation of the details associated with some category of artifact...watches, wine, automobiles and so on. I think of it quite broadly, but in the world I live in, the word is used almost exclusively for consumables--food & beverages.

But, I think it's essential to being a 'connoisseur' that one have a very good and growing knowledge and recognition of various key features that distinguish among the many examples of that category of thing of which he/she is a connoisseur. In plain English, you gotta know something about the object of your passion beyond it's price point, where it's made and how many there are.

I believe a watch connoisseur is something of an expert, at some level, in the key components and features, terminology and history of the watch. I don't believe it's enough to simply own a large number of fine watches because you simply like to own many fine things and love watches. There's nothing at all wrong with that, I simply would refer to such a collector as a collector or appreciateur. :)

I do think most folks are going to associate 'connoisseur' with the more unique, the better built, the higher level of craftsmanship and, probably, some sense of what other recognized experts tend to agree is the higher level of the art. As with food and beverages, this will often lead to an association with the expensive, rare and exotic. Now, with watches, one could be an art or jewelry connoisseur and I suppose be a watch connoisseur solely on that basis--nothing to do with the horological aspects of the watch. I'm not sure about that.

But again, being able to buy and own (or consume) the expensive, rare and exotic doesn't make one a connoisseur.

As for Seiko. I believe Seiko has chosen to carefully balance itself carefully between 3 points: the most widely recognized brand of watch in the world, the highest quality watch available, and the producer of a watch for every consumer on the planet. So, if you're going to produce $50 watches by the millions, it will be a special customer indeed who will choose to spend $7,000 on a Seiko. They're probably not buying it to flash the watch around the dinner table to impress non-watch people, who see 'Seiko' and little else. You'd have to constantly say, "No it's not a Toyota, it's a Lexus."

I think it's got to be very difficult to stretch a mass-market brand 'Seiko', while recognized as an excellent, if not a bit boring watch, to the special, unique and discernible qualities that connoisseurs need in order to be experts. Especially so if that brand is still clearly recognized as the parent: 'Grand Seiko', for example, just doesn't separate the brand for 99.999% of folks. I think if you want to charge 100 times as much for a product line as you do for your core line, you really need a new brand.
 

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IMO, it's gonna take some time before Japanese watches catch up with the Swiss...and it doesn't have anything to do with technology or quality of products. Japanese watches are already at par with the Swiss on those two fronts. The Grand Seiko/Springdrive lines are a testament to these. The main advantage the Swiss has over the Japs I believe lies in their ability to aggressively market their products to the English speaking world. The use of precious metals and stones on their timepieces also helps a lot in creating the perception of luxury. The Japanese view perfection in a different way. To them, the "purity" of a timepiece has more to do with simplicity of design and accuracy of timekeeping. Until the west gains an understanding of this, their timepieces will remain appreciated only by those "enlightened" few.
 

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I am not convinced that Seiko, for example, see the future of their business in catching up to the Swiss.
I am not that old (sigh) but I can remember when it was laughable to consider that the Japanese auto industry would ever be able to compete in the high end high volume sector of the market.
I agree that Seiko has achieved a very high level of quality in the upper end of various lines (exceeding many/most Swiss watches), but the extreme value in some of their least expensive watches is where they outshine everyone else.IMHO
If Seiko were able to fund a major 'BRAND VALUE' marketing campaign I think people would respond. The real question, as has already been stated, is : Do most people who buy watches REALLY care about the same watch qualities as the watchmaker or average WIS.....? I think we all know the answer.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Its pretty much what ive been thinking really. like i said it was just a chance to canvas ideas and thoughts from fellow members of the forum.

Talking to a freind of mine who has at least one high end watch, he bought it because he likes the look and the fact that in his eyes Tag is cool. another freind bought a panerai not because he knew anything about the company or movement but becuase it was different compared to the main high end brands in the UK (his words not mine) and because he liked the look. in fact when he got it home he was thinking it was broken because it wasnt ticking away because he failed to realise that he needed to shake the watch a bit to power it up. (typical guy in that we dont like to use instruction manuals! :) )
In fact whilst i was in dubai with him he actually bought a fake version of the same watch afterwards just because it had a slightly different dial colour!

Ill admit id do find the motivations about buying certain things interesting. but then the same applies to any purchase be it car, clothes or jewellry i guess. some people will always go for brands and not care about anything else because quality is implicit. some will research and look for the best item for their needs irrespective of brand name.
 

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Many of you have already hit the nail on the head. We all know the quality is there for a brand like Seiko with their mid and high end models, but the perception is everything.

Taking that a step farther, Seiko should become a sponser for a real BIG time athlete in America or pay the big bucks for a prime spot in the next Bond film. I know Seiko has been in Bond films in the past, but they should try it again with a Grand Seiko or a Prospex Dive watch. Perception can change quickly with the right marketing, and Seiko can afford to do it, but is it in their culture to go down this path?
 

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Many of you have already hit the nail on the head. We all know the quality is there for a brand like Seiko with their mid and high end models, but the perception is everything.

Taking that a step farther, Seiko should become a sponser for a real BIG time athlete in America or pay the big bucks for a prime spot in the next Bond film. I know Seiko has been in Bond films in the past, but they should try it again with a Grand Seiko or a Prospex Dive watch. Perception can change quickly with the right marketing, and Seiko can afford to do it, but is it in their culture to go down this path?
Two names....

LeBron James
Jay-Z

Boom goes the dynamite!
 

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One other perspective on the topic;
does the watch make the connoisseur or does the connoisseur make the watch?

I'll explain. As posted by Bongo Boy above, for me a connoisseur is someone who not only has a passion but has a vast knowledge of (in this case) watches. Someone who knows the essential small details that make a truly desirable watch; details that would not be apparent to the average consumer. If a consumer is not familiar with the finer details then they will depend on name recognition to identify a "good" watch. Ask the average consumer what is a high-end watch and they will say "Rolex". Ask them why and they will be clueless.

So to many people the thought process would be "Joe is a connoisseur, he even owns a Rolex".
My thought process is "Joe is a connoisseur, he knows a lot about watches. He owns a Seiko so I think I'll check one out".

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In many ways we use the forum as a vetting tool to qualify certain watches and brands.
You read the forums and start to identify certain people with similar taste as yourself or people with much more knowledge than yourself. Then you start to put emphasis on the various timepieces "endorsed" by these people. And slowly you start to become a connoisseur.

To me a connoisseur is someone who knows the "insider secrets".
Someone who can identify the pros and cons of a particular watch in order to make an educated purchasing decision.
 

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I think we have fairly-good agreement. Here's another example that may help to confuse the situation--part of this is just a matter of language. The etymology of the word is clearly strong around the 'knowing' and 'expertise' part, and seems to have very little to do with the 'exclusivity', exotic nature or accessibility of that which is being...connoisseured.

Suppose we have a collector, restorer and acknowledged supreme authority on all things Yugo ("...the apex of Serbo-Croatian automotive technology."). According to my understanding of the history of the word, if not current American usage, this person is definitely a Yugo connoisseur. This would be the person who knows the variants of production, changes that were incorporated into the product and when, and all matters of little concern except to others sharing the passion. No distinction in this regard based on the passion being for all things Yugo, versus all things Maserati. It's a piece of history--not just a car.

Now, it would be very interesting (if not utterly pointless) to discuss the whole 'better watch' thing. What makes a $9,000 IWC a 'better' watch than an $800 Seiko? Better materials? Better timekeeping? Better finish? Questions best, and most entertainingly discussed over adult beverages, IMO.

The ONLY aspect of what photoshooter has said that I'd tweak a bit for my own personal view is that it's not a matter so much of the knowledge being "insider secrets" (which suggests a bit of exclusivity to me), but more a matter that the person has dug more deeply, asked more questions and explored further than most. But I think we differ here really more in our expression--seems we're pretty-much on the same page. Interest, passion, nuance and knowledge outweigh brand, prestige, exclusivity and price point.

...and no, I'm not saying the Seiko is the Yugo of the watch world. Let's get that out of the way.:)
 
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