How do you sell a $100,000 watch?
Deep Thoughts, MB&F, Uncategorized

How do you sell a $100,000 watch?

I’m amazed at how well this blog has been received so far.  I’m really glad you all like it.  Thanks for the support.
I wanted to close the week out with THE question: how do you sell a $100,000 watch?  Of course that question has as its flipside: why buy a $100,000 watch?  This is something that I will be talking about often as the blog goes along, so today I’ll just get out some general thoughts.

I believe my Econ 101 course: someone buys a product when its value to that person exceeds the cost that they are willing and able to pay for it.  To me, this holds true in luxury just as much as it does for any other good.  The difference is that the composition of that value is much more complicated than for most other products.

I am not a salesman.

To me, salesmen focus on the sale.  Their goal is to convince the buyer that the value is high enough to tip the equation towards a sale.  It is a transactional mindset, and while there is nothing wrong with it per se, it opens the door to a lot of unethical behavior.

My take is simple: honestly explain the value of the product, work to create added value, and let the potential buyers make up their own mind.  On the brand side of it, I feel that this is the righteous way to do it.  As a well-informed collector, anything else feels patronizing to me.

When I first sat down with Max, this was the point that was most important to me.  Are we going to focus on selling or on creating value?  Luckily, his viewpoint is the same as mine, which I think can be seen in the fantastic company he has created.

As the blog goes on, I hope to explore the questions of how to explain and create value, and what is it that people value anyway?

Thanks again for a fun week.  Have a great weekend!


  • I like your take on this Steve – it’s refreshing and honest.
    After you fall in and out of love with watches, and after you sell all of your “mistakes” (usually at a loss), you start to learn a great deal more and wonder about what things are really worth and what factors drive the various sections of the watch market.

    MB & F is a very unique brand – meaning that you make a very limited number of watches, and have a small elite number of buyers – but that the passion quotient is quite high. It’s a high passion brand, and (I would guess) there are always a small but dedicated group of collectors for MB & F. The larger more traditional brands have a harder time harnessing that passion.

    For instance, I used to collect vintage Longines chronographs (13-ZN in particular), and that is a high passion segment of a brand that has a glorious history but that is now basically a “commodity” brand – one that has lost it’s great legacy (although they try to pay tribute to it in some of their designs). But there were a tiny number of people in the world who passionately collected 13-ZN Longines chronographs. It was a sub-brand of the larger brand. In the days when the economy was better, there was no issue selling rare examples for seriously high prices.

    Value is based upon perception of quality, rarity, condition (in the case of pre-owned watches), and a certain magic that some brands have. Exclusivity and small quantity fuel that magic. When Panerai restarted, they made very limited numbers of watches, and were rather masterful at building upon a unique image. Now….not so much, in my opinion.

    The $100,000 price tag is interesting. I find it bizarre that so many common watches (vintage Rolex sport models in particular) get to that price threshold. They are a mass-produced brand, of good quality, and easily modified. Many of their unique models have been “faked” and modified over the years, and have found their way into this rarefied $100,000 area.

    Give me rare and give me “un-fakeable” all the time.

    • Steve Hallock

      Thanks for the comment, Michael. As I mentioned, I’ll be posting a lot more on this subject as I go along. Great to have others’ thoughts as well.

  • Salesman

    I am a salesman.

  • Salesman

    I don’t know why it didn’t show my name next to the comment I just made.


  • Marc Cappione

    Hi Steve,This is an interesting read indeed…funny thing…I have looked at this question in many ways and have been in the buying position but have not tried to sell anything as I tend to keep more than catch and release…I think honestly though most watches in the $100K and up range really sells themselves…it takes someone that knows them to have the watch up and someone that has the passion and knowledge to actually pull the trigger…sure a good salesperson can sway someone but they must have some knowledge and passion first IMHO…well unless they are looking at something blinged out with diamonds and the like 😉

  • Anonymous

    Hi Marc,
    I think you are spot on when it comes to resale or selling a single piece. However, the challenge I am more interested in is how to Sell (capital S) as a brand – the brand building, marketing, the message, etc that eventually leads to lowercase s sales in stores. Basically how does a brand bring about that passion and knowledge that you mentioned.

    Thanks for commenting. Please check-in more. I hope some of these turn into interesting discussions.


    • Marc Cappione

      Hi Steve,I think for a new brand it is a tough line to cross…but when it comes to something like a watch it really breaks down into quality and design…the consumer has to see something there that stands out and draws them in…I think when you get into this price level exclusivity plays a minor roll and this is how the independent watch companies are beginning to come into their own…sometimes it is very nice having something rare and exclusive on your wrist…For a brand to bring this about it has to be in the market and be active amongst its most likely customers…For me all it took was meeting and reading about Max and MB&F to hook me in…to see his dedication and passion towards the brand makes me want to own something he has created…any brand that wants to bring this into its potential market needs to be out there and in the market…while the internet and other media are fantastic informational tools nothing sells a brand like people and passion…Being in the beer business I see this on a much different scale…I could sit inside all day long and just take orders…there is a strong demand for my products and they do sell themselves in many ways but if I am out in the market promoting…talking…showing it only makes my products that much stronger and their base even stronger…people love products but when you build relationships behind your products it takes business to a different level

  • Anonymous

    You got it, Marc. It’s difficult to do though. Luckily you came to us in Geneva and we are clearly on the same wavelength. But for most people, we have to go to them. Now how do you find all these people and how do you find enough time to meet all of them? The hope is that our retail partners can do this job locally for us in our absence since we cannot be everywhere at once. Of course we recognize that it is impossible to expect that they be a perfect substitute for us, just like I can’t be a perfect substitute for Max.
    I’m going to hit on this topic many many times in the course of this blog. Stay tuned…

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