Sunday, April 29, 2012

Something we should live without

What’s wrong with society dropped right out of the middle of my New York Times today.

it was a small advertising brochure for Ben Bridge Jewelers that was pitching sleek watches largely to  one percenters.

The first watch was something called the “Oyster Perpetual Day-Date II” in “18k pink gold with fluted bezel.” (It's the one on the left in the picture.)

I have nothing against the Oyster Perpetual per se although I’m not big on pink watches and I have no idea what a fluted bezel does that a regular bezel can’t do.

What got my attention was the price: $34,700.

I assume someone (or someones) must be buying the Oyster Perpetual Day-Date II” or Rolex wouldn’t be making it.

And who might those folks be?

Someone with enough money to afford the Oyster Perpetual and who clearly wants it. But why?

$34,700 for a watch makes me wonder what they pay for toilet paper or beer or, god forbid, four-wheel transportation.

Are their friends and colleagues impressed? Do they sit around comparing watches. “Oooo... yours is made of pink gold!”

I don’t think so.

You want to know what’s impressive? Not long ago I bought a Timex for $39 at Fred Meyer on sale. No big deal, but compared to the Oyster Perpetual, the Timex’s cost is impressive. It does everything that the Oyster Perpetual does, and, to my plebeian eye, it is better looking. It even glows in the dark when you push in its bezel, which, alas, is non-fluted.

Hey, if I lost my watch while, say, yachting at Newport or golfing at Pebble Beach, I’d only be out $39.

But then purchasers of Oyster Perpetuals probably don’t worry about losing a $34,700 watch in some regatta or sand trap. If they did, they wouldn’t buy pink gold Rolexes in the first place.

What really gets me is for the Rolex price some worthy student could go to a first-rate college for a year. The price tag on the Oyster Perpetual is more money than most Americans make in a year. You can imagine the lift it would provide the guys who live under this city’s bridges.

Presumably such thoughts don’t cross the mind of the Ben Bridge customer. Theirs is another world ruled by entirely different values. Unfortunately, those Rolex-driven values rule our world.

I have to confess, the Oyster Perpetual is the single most expensive watch in the Ben Bridge brochure. The prices work their way down to a cheap-o TW Steel “Canteen Automatic” for $595. “The Canteen” is listed on the very last page as a bargain-basement ticker. For some it must look like a steal, if you don’t mind owning a watch called “The Canteen.”

As for me, I’m sticking with my Timex.

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