Smartwatches and fitness bands are becoming more popular every year. As more people are buying these devices, companies are slowly but surely, releasing more and more expensive models.
And with the Apple Watch Ultra, we’re finally seeing a mainstream smartwatch model reach flagship smartphone prices. But do the capabilities of these devices justify their prices?
Why Do You Need a Smartwatch?
A smartwatch doesn’t just tell the time. Instead, it has many other features that make it “smart.” For example, most smartwatches sync with your smartphone to send you notifications. It also usually has several features like health tracking, navigation, and activity-specific features.
While these things are nice to have, most people probably do not need a smartwatch. A smartwatch becomes crucial only if you’re into specific activities or need it to track your physical performance.
And while Apple smartwatches have great safety features, like fall detection, heart rate monitoring, ECG, and crash detection, they’re not crucial for most people’s daily lives.
Defining Luxury in Luxury Smartwatch
According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, luxury is something that adds pleasure or comfort but isn’t absolutely necessary. It’s also defined as an indulgence in something that provides pleasure, satisfaction, or ease.
Given that, you could argue that smartwatches themselves are luxuries. Nevertheless, we can claim that the basic features of many smartwatches are crucial in today’s highly connected societies.
But once you have a smartwatch with features beyond your need, it becomes a luxury. For example, the Apple Watch Series 7 was available with a titanium casing. While this case is lighter and stronger than the already premium stainless steel case, it offers no other advantage than being more expensive.
You could also say the same for the Apple Watch Ultra. Unless you’re an adventurer, a long-distance runner, or a diver, the Apple Watch Ultra isn’t a great choice for most users. So, if you’re not its target market but decide to get it anyway, it’s a luxury smartwatch.
What a Luxury Smartwatch Offers Over Mainstream Models
One good example of a luxury smartwatch is the Garmin MARQ line of modern tool watches. Aside from the usual health tracking and navigation features, the more premium Garmin MARQ luxury smartwatch models offer luxury activity-specific features, like skiing and golfing.
For example, the Garmin MARQ Aviator offers a global database of airports right on the smartwatch, an HSI— an aircraft-specific instrument—and the capability to connect it to Garmin-branded instruments on your airplane.
But aside from these features, a luxury smartwatch is also generally made from more premium materials, like silver, gold, or titanium. Some brands even feature precious stones like diamonds in their design.
Why People Invest in a Luxury Watch
But before we talk about if luxury smartwatches are worth their asking price, we should first look at why people invest in luxury watches in the first place. Of course, the shallowest reason to invest in a luxury watch is to keep up with people in the know. But there’s more to luxury watches than that.
Luxury watches, especially those with intricate mechanical movements, are works of art. Highly-skilled artisans with years, if not decades, of experience are required to make the finely tuned gears, springs, and other parts of these watches.
More than that, mechanical watches do not become obsolete, nor does it suffer from disposable parts that are difficult to replace. Because of that, watches can become heirlooms—passed down from one generation to the next.
Lastly, if you know how to choose the correct model or how the luxury watch market goes, you could get a luxury watch that increases with value over time—something that a smartwatch is unlikely to do.
When a Luxury Smartwatch Doesn’t Make Sense
Nevertheless, people still purchase luxury smartwatches, especially if they want a stylish watch that communicates their status to those in the know while still retaining the capabilities of a smartwatch. However, it doesn’t mean you should get a smartwatch, even if you can afford it.
These are some of the reasons why luxury smartwatches aren’t worth buying.
You Can’t Afford to Maintain It
Everything requires maintenance—from your desktop computer to your smartwatch. And as smartwatches have small parts and require expertise from watchmakers and electronics experts, service and repair for these devices will be expensive.
Smartwatches Quickly Become Obsolete
If you buy a $3,000 luxury mechanical watch, you can expect it to last several years. You could even hand it down through generations, ensuring that your children, grandchildren, and their children enjoy it.
However, a smartwatch becomes obsolete in just a few years. You need to update its firmware, as outdated software could compromise your cybersecurity. However, companies rarely support their devices for life.
For example, the first Apple Watch, launched in 2015, had software support for it ended in 2018. That means it only had a useful lifespan of three years. If you bought the first Apple Watch Edition, which started at $10,000, the watch would’ve cost you nearly $3,300 annually.
But if you bought the Omega Speedmaster Moonwatch instead, which retails for $9,965, it could last 50 years or more. In fact, OIdest lists some of the oldest watches in the world, with the oldest dating to 1505.
There Are Limited Design Options for Luxury Smartwatches
You’ll find watches of all shapes and sizes in the world of luxury watches. There are small, square watches like the Cartier Tank, large, heavy-duty diver’s watches like the Rolex Submariner, and everything else in between.
And while more luxury watch brands are getting into the luxury smartwatch game, like Tag Heuer, Hublot, and Montblanc, you still don’t have that many options.
Smartwatches Don’t Have the Level of Artisanship of Luxury Mechanical Watches
One reason that people buy luxury mechanical watches is because of the mechanical and artistic skills required to create these works of art. This is unlike smartwatches which are generally mass-produced in factories.
Because of this, luxury watch owners have a sense of attachment to their timepieces, as they equate it to a piece of art they can wear. And while smartwatches are useful in our daily lives, it doesn’t provide the emotional satisfaction of owning a finely-crafted mechanical machine.
Smartwatch Values Depreciate
Since smartwatches do not last, their value would only depreciate when you purchase them. Even if you get a smartwatch model made from precious metals and stones, after several years, its value would only equal the weight and carat of its material.
People will not equate the internal circuitry of luxury smartwatches to art, as they cannot appreciate the processors inside it. However, a luxury mechanical watch could potentially increase in value over time, especially if it’s well-maintained.
That’s because the intricacies of its movement can be appreciated by many, and it requires manual skill honed through years of experience to repair, service, and maintain a finely-crafted timepiece.
Should You Buy a Luxury Smartwatch?
The only time that it makes sense to buy a luxury smartwatch is if you need its functions (and if you can afford it). But in situations where you don’t need its functions, you’re better off wearing a luxury mechanical watch or an ordinary smartwatch.
Now, if you really want a smartwatch, are a fan of specific luxury watch brands, and can afford the expense, then go ahead and buy that luxury smartwatch. But don’t expect it to last as long as other luxury mechanical watches.