Almost No One Cares About Your Expensive Watch or Suit

Lots of discussion on here about expensive watches and suits. I'm here to make an admission that might blow some people's minds but might be helpful and enlightening as well....I'm just trying to provoke a thoughtful discussion so please don't flip out.

No one cares about your watch...I've probably been to a thousand business meetings at this point in my career. I don't look at your watch. I'm either trying to pay attention to what you're saying or I'm checking my e-mail. If I do see your watch for some reason, I can tell the difference between  a $500 watch and a $5K watch. Over $5K or so, I really can't tell the difference.

Same goes with suits. A $1K suit is obviously nicer than a $500 suit.  After $1K, I can't tell the difference between a $5K suit and a $10K suit and I have no idea what brand you're wearing.

If you've read any of my previous posts, you know that I'm not a big watch or suit guy, but I think a lot of people are like me. The only people who care about watches are other watch people. Same with suits. The rest of us just don't care.

While so many seem obsessed with watches and suits and prestige being a big reason behind that, it seems like the worst bang for your buck in terms of prestige. A 6-year old can the tell the difference between a Ferrari and Nissan. Your $15K watch? Not so much. Even people used to being around wealthy clients all the time like myself can't tell the difference, don't care or don't even see your watch.

Comments (46)

  • Analyst 1 in PE - Other
2mo

I've got a 700€ watch and received probably ~20 positive comments about it. While you may got your point that an expensive watch likely doesn't matter, actually a lot of people look at the watch of their conversation partner, you're just not one of them. I was also genuinely surprised how many people started conversations about it.

Most Helpful
  • Analyst 3+ in IB - Cov
2mo

Expensive clothes in general are cope.

If you have a 9/10 face, or are 6 foot 3 and athletic, you can dress like a homeless person and people will still gravitate towards you.

You could take a tall atheltic handsome guy put him in a suit from jc penny for 200 bucks and stand him next to the dweeby finance hardo in wearing  custom Saville row suit and the handsome guy would get more compliments/looks.

Every guy I've know that gets really into fashion and watches is honestly not that good looking/athletic.  It's helps them cope.

Deep down we all know it's true.

2mo
NoEquityResearch, what's your opinion? Comment below:

This is absolutely true and I've seen it firsthand. Recently went to a wedding and had a relative lose his luggage and suit on the plane. The guy is in incredibly good shape. Not kidding you, he went to a thrift store and bought a used piece of crap suit for like $10. Was one of the sharpest looking guys at the event.

  • Analyst 3+ in IB - Cov
2mo

Exactly.  There was an analyst  in my office who was into super expensive clothes(bought this 4k loro piano jacket or something plus this super hilarious loro shirt for like 600 dollars that looked like it was worth 60).

He was sort of fat, short.

I also find Asians really into the expensive stuff.  Their culture doesn't find it ironically cool for a rich chad to wear cheap clothes because they don't give an f.  That never happens amongst asians

2mo
Bossdogfrog, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I wear expensive suits and watches for my own pleasure and not to impress on others nor do I care about "prestige". Good suits are comfortable and make me feel sharp, powerful and ready for anything and you better believe I get treated better because of it. And with watches it is really about the story/meaning behind every piece, not the value or showing off. Sure some people like to shove it in your face with an iced out Rolex or AP but that's really just tasteless and pretty much universally frowned upon by anyone with half of a brain on their shoulders.

2mo
NoEquityResearch, what's your opinion? Comment below:
Bossdogfrog

I wear expensive suits and watches for my own pleasure and not to impress on others nor do I care about "prestige". Good suits are comfortable and make me feel sharp, powerful and ready for anything and you better believe I get treated better because of it. 

This is where I think it's a really interesting thought exercise. I mean do you really find better suits that much more pleasurable? I've tried on a good bit of suits and sure a $4K suit is a little nicer than a $1K suit, but I'm not just blown away. It's not like it's pure ecstasy to wear the more expensive suit.

Also, why do you feel more sharp and powerful? Is it because you believe others see you as sharper and more powerful because of your expensive suit? Which brings me back to the comments in my original post......the truth is most people can't tell the difference between a $1K and $5K suit. Not trying to beat you up on this. Just think it's an interesting psychological idea to explore on what makes people tick.

2mo
hghgg, what's your opinion? Comment below:

No I feel powerful and confident and sharp in my 5k suit because it is a constant reminder that I'm the kinda guy who makes enough to own multiple 5k suits 

  • 2
  • Associate 1 in IB - Gen
2mo

Never understood people who spend their own hard-earned cash on shit they don't like to impress people they don't like or even know. Lot of insecure folks in finance so naturally you see more of it here

  • Intern in IB - Cov
2mo

As an intern I wore a nice watch my father gave me as a graduation gift. One of the second year analysts was explaining a credit model to me when he stopped and asked about my watch. I misread the situation and spoke for maybe 30 seconds on the watch, for him to reply "cool man, I'm rocking this... (Forget what it was but maybe a 50 dollar watch)". 

  • Associate 2 in IB-M&A
2mo

Watches are awesome if you like them . So don't go out and buy a Batman 2nd hand for 30k because you think it'll make you look cool. OP Is right, no one really cares. 

What IS differentiating, in my opinion, is if you really like watches, wear what you can (reasonably) afford and use it as a way to talk to your MD wearing a Zeitwerk. 

With that said, the watch I get the most complements on by far is a Salmon Dial Croton (prob $150 on ebay), despite having a couple 5 figure watches. I think I have pretty good taste, and if you use that, it will transcend price. 

2mo
Ozymandia, what's your opinion? Comment below:

This comes up a lot and I honestly don't see why this is any different than any other luxury item.  Sure, you may not care if I wear $25,000 watch.  I also don't give a shit if you drive a $250,000 car.  If it gives you pleasure, and you can afford it, do it.  Especially if you're not being a dick and rubbing it in other people's faces.

While so many seem obsessed with watches and suits and prestige being a big reason behind that, it seems like the worst bang for your buck in terms of prestige. A 6-year old can the tell the difference between a Ferrari and Nissan. Your $15K watch? Not so much. Even people used to being around wealthy clients all the time like myself can't tell the difference, don't care or don't even see your watch.

But aren't you sort of proving the opposite point that you're trying to?  If a six year old can tell the difference in your ride, then it's not really a sign of superior taste, right?   I don't know a ton about watches, but I notice when people are wearing nice ones.  I think in general this is a rule about money; that truly wealthy people tend to buy/dress/etc in expensive but understated style.  Watches are an appropriate way of showing that kind of wealth, I'd think, in that they're functional but also represent a lot of technical ability and engineering, and aren't flashy in the way buying a Lamborghini Aventador is.

Moreover, if you are comparing a Ferrari to a Nissan, the appropriate comparison is a $15,000 to a novelty Mickey Mouse watch.  In which case, a six year old could still tell the difference.

Finally, cars cost a shitload of money to maintain and use in addition to their sticker shock.  Garage, insurance, gas, routine maintenance, etc.... the more your car is worth, the more you come out of pocket annually.  At some point above a basic level of utility, you are paying for those things without actually getting utility in return.  Again, not to shit on your desire to own a nice vehicle, I'm just not sure why you're making this argument when it so clearly applies equally to owning any luxury good.

2mo
NoEquityResearch, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Ozymandia

  Again, not to shit on your desire to own a nice vehicle, I'm just not sure why you're making this argument when it so clearly applies equally to owning any luxury good.

Didn't you just make the argument that some luxury goods are understated and only aimed at high networth people while something like a Lamborghini is more obvious to everyone? So you're saying that there is a difference between certain luxury goods per your own statements, any luxury good is not equal.

2mo
Ozymandia, what's your opinion? Comment below:
NoEquityResearch

Didn't you just make the argument that some luxury goods are understated and only aimed high networth people while something like a Lamborghini is more obvious to everyone? So you're saying that there is a difference between certain luxury goods per your own statements, any luxury good is not equal.

You made the point that owning a nice car is different from owning a nice watch, and created a thread to defend that position.  I think that falls flat either way you look at it; I think a watch is a classier, more understated way of showing off wealth (if that's what you want to do), but I'd also accept the argument that buying any luxury good could be considered foolish by the logic you're espousing.  I don't agree with it, personally, but that is a logically coherent argument.

As I said before, personally, I think that if you can afford something and it gives you pleasure to own it, you should go for it (again, with the caveat that: don't be a dick about it).  However, if you want to contest that assertion, then I'd still disagree with you and say that an expensive watch is a better and more illustrative (and cheaper) luxury item to buy to show off wealth than an expensive car.

2mo
NoEquityResearch, what's your opinion? Comment below:
Ozymandia

, I'd think, in that they're functional but also represent a lot of technical ability and engineering, and aren't flashy in the way buying a Lamborghini Aventador is.

Side note.....I always love these sorts of excuses for buying a $25K watch to make oneself seem sophisticated rather than vain.  I call bullshit. Really you love engineering that much? Do you go around the countryside touring bridges as well? How about touring an industrial factory? Is that something which really excites you?

2mo
thevillage, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Engineering student going into finance who restores cars as a hobby and has somewhat of an interest in watches. I absolutely care about the engineering behind a car/watch. It's paramount in my preference.

2mo
Dr. Rahma Dikhinmahas, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Same here man.  So funny watching dudes who wear jewelry try and act like that's not what they're doing.  Just own it.  It's cool man, you enjoy having a fancy thing on your wrist.  I'm actually jealous of this, I wish I could derive such pleasure from a simple purchase.  No need to convince me yyou're some kind of gearhead.

2mo
Ozymandia, what's your opinion? Comment below:
NoEquityResearch

Side note.....I always love these sorts of excuses for buying a $25K watch to make oneself seem sophisticated rather than vain.  I call bullshit. Really you love engineering that much? Do you go around the countryside touring bridges as well? How about touring an industrial factory? Is that something which really excites you?

I mean, I agree 100%.  I'd rather spend 25k on a super nice vacation than on something my phone can do!  I just feel that many (though not all) of the reasons to appreciate expensive cars apply equally to watches.  Sure, you might get a thrill driving a car - I dislike driving so I don't get that, but I can understand why someone else might.

And I do get visceral satisfaction out of touring certain industrial facilities.  It can be really cool!  Just thinking about the planning and logistics and engineering that goes into factory design, the mistakes that must have been made before someone figured out optimal layouts... I know you were joking, but I genuinely enjoy that shit, so I guess I'm the weirdo who gets no pleasure from driving a supercar (not that I have) but does enjoy mundane site visits.

2mo
ConfusedGuru, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I think the type of people to buy a $15,000 watch don't really have money concerns nor do they care about the opinions of laypeople. It's like that one Ariana Grande lyric - "I see it, I like it, I want it, I got it".

2mo
Dr. Rahma Dikhinmahas, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I think dudes in NYC care about watches and clothes because they don't have other ways of flexing their high income.  If they lived anywhere else, they'd buy a nice car & home and wouldn't care about these accessories.  But nicer home and especially car are non-options in NYC so they look for another signal.  

2mo
PaulEvansLoafers, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I think hard to generalize with these. I've met people who have no idea what they are wearing beyond the fact that it says "Rolex", and others that drool over their vintage $500 watch.

Not fair to say one way or another. Many watches appreciate/hold their value extremely well so its also a good way to park extra cash and just sell/buy new one every now and then without losing most of what you put in. I personally like this.

2mo
Smoke Frog, what's your opinion? Comment below:

We don't get fancy watches or suits to impress people like you. We get them because it feels good to wear, it's a nice reminder to us that we have money and we get used to quality.

Yea, you don't care our watch costs 50k.

But we also don't care you don't care. Thanks for being so enlightening for us.

2mo
NoEquityResearch, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Smoke Frog

. We get them because it feels good to wear, it's a nice reminder to us that we have money and we get used to quality.

Yea, you don't care our watch costs 50k.

You do understand how cringe and frankly sad this sounds, right? If you need to wear a $50K watch to feel good about yourself and accomplishments in life, the money might be honestly better spent on counseling...

2mo
Smoke Frog, what's your opinion? Comment below:

First of all, saying cringe is cringe.

I can buy an expensive watch cause I have the money and it doesn't change anything in my life. My kids 529 plans are fully funded, I can fly business on my trips and have a large retirement account.

What else should I spend my money on? I don't need to save anymore than I am, I don't like drugs, I don't cheat on my wife, but wearing a nice watch and suits makes me feel good.

But I can't cause you can't? Cause you think it's sad people like material things?

Jealousy ain't a flattering color bro. Just cause your above material things doesn't mean everyone thinks like you.

2mo
Dr. Rahma Dikhinmahas, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Does your watch actually cost $50k.  I'd be curious to know what other big spend stuff you have, like how much do you typically pay for a suit and what do you drive.

I'm honestly curious how people make these decisions.  People in my income/savings range tend to have these high-end things. I just can't get into it bc I feel like the biggest benefit by far to having reached a certain level of savings is the basic freedom it provides.  i.e. knowing if I get canned tomorrow, I could live a basic life indefinitely and have unlimited time to think about what I want to do next.  

And that doesn't require much sacrifice, but it does mean avoiding the super big ticket stuff . . 5 figure watches, 6 figure cars and 7 figure condos.  Pretty easy decision for me but curious how others go about it and their reasons. 

2mo
Smoke Frog, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Until I was in my thirties and met my wife, I had your life view. I wanted to save and have freedom. I didn't know what Chanel or patek even was. I actually couldn't live large cause I blew 500k gambling in my twenties.

I just spent enough on nice clothes to be able to sleep and attract the girls I wanted.

In fact, I believe if your poor or middle class and just do the IB thing from analyst to md, you can't really be that baller all on your own.

But when I entered my thirties lots of things changed for me. My father became c-suite at an international company. My wife earns as much as we do. Her father is well to do.

So my entire wealth station shifted favorably. That helped me decide to stop being so miserly. Now if I was the main bread winner and my dad was a poor loser, I wouldn't be living large. Or if my wife was average. Or if I had debt or something.

I only make five to six hundred grand a year. That's it. I'm not trying to LARP I'm so rockstar director making 7 figures. I have family and spousal support all pulling their weight.

Lifestyle creep is real but I don't think it's possible on a regular IB salary. You need a quality partner or family.

My watch retails for like 75, but I have a friend and he was able to get it for me for only 50.

2mo
Reaganomics10, what's your opinion? Comment below:

There are a lot of watch nerds that don't really fit OP's framing, including myself. Personally, I think watches are a fascinating topic with a surprising number of avenues to learn/discover/think about, whether it be design, engineering, history, marketing, business, manufacturing, crime, fashion, etc. I really enjoy reading about them for some indescribable reason and just happen to buy/wear the ones I like or think are cool/interesting. It is a very nerdy hobby that if you get too far into it, you get desensitized to the prices and find yourself considering certain watches that cost way beyond what could ever be seen as rational just out of curiosity. Trying to impress others really isn't something that crosses my mind, and my interest in it is probably more akin to baseball card collecting than it is to typical luxury shopping. I am pretty frugal everywhere else in my life and just see it as an expensive hobby/interest to enjoy learning about.

2mo
leltec, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I think the bigger point in this isn't that people don't notice these things - some do, it's that it doesn't matter. No one looks at your Lange, recognizes what it is, and decides "yeah, what this person is saying makes more sense" or "this person is trustworthy" or "this person is pleasant to be around". Maybe somewhere in the back of their minds they'll think "that person has nice taste", but any number of other impressions you might give off are infinitely more important than their incremental reaction to your watch. And they're just as likely to have a mild negative reaction as a positive one - e.g., "what a pretentious douche", "you'd waste $60K on that?", "that AP is ugly as sin"(because they are), etc.

Not to say you can't enjoy nice things, do what makes you happy. It just won't change anything for you when interacting with someone else. Won't fix an a**hole. Won't slow down a rockstar.

2mo
NoEquityResearch, what's your opinion? Comment below:

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