It is all perception, you're right. Lots of people I know think it's insane to spend £100 on a watch and yet they think nothing of spending upwards of £20-30k on a new car or £2000 on a cruise, which, to me really is insane. I don't have any desire for an expensive car. Doesn't mean I don't appreciate how amazing they are, it's just that I wouldn't buy one.I think this is where the divergence between the watch buyer who will pay anything they can or are asked for a watch and those like myself who won't.
Taking you car example, in my business I was given a very generous car allowance. Some or the Guys spent the whole sum on leasing something expensive and some bought a run of the mill "fleet Car" and idiots like myself bought a good quality car, normally at auction, at rock bottom price and over three years old. I then ran it for two to sometimes five years and then sold it and grabbed another one. After the Tax Allowances and other things I made a small profit on my Company Car.
Taking the same example with a watch, I want something that looks good and tells me the time! That is it, period, I will change a battery or put a new strap on as needed, but in the end I have tons of watches that have look fine, work fine and tell me the time; date & day sometimes too reliably. 99% of the people I know, would not have a clue if my watch cost £7.99, £79, or £799. I have watches in the first two price ranges but not the third!
To take the car analogy a bit further, for years I ran around in a series of top end Ford Granada Saloons and Estate cars, leather seats and all the Bells & Whistles, my fellow workers could not believe that they cost me less to run than their leased entry level BMW Three Series. OK my fuel cost was a bit higher, but I had a nice 2.8L V6 automatic lump, but still I ended up quids in! In the Same way my idiot Brother In Law thinks my Invicta 8927 Pro Diver is a very expensive you know what!
So this in the end is all perception!
Nor would I 'pay anything' for a watch, although some of my friends would say a £400 Seiko Turtle falls into the category of crazy behaviour on my part.
Given the choice of a nice car or nice watch I'd choose the watch every time. Yes, the watch is just there to tell the time, the same as I would argue a car is just at tool to get me from A to B. I'm sure petrol heads would think me strange for having that perception
Ford Granada! You are showing your age now ;-)