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Are Watches Jewellery?

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James Gurney, editor of QP Magazine:

Are watches jewellery?

The Prodigal Fool:

In short, yes but they’re the very best kind of jewellery. Let me see if I can illustrate what I mean.

I think you first need to define what you mean when you say ‘jewellery’. It has the word ‘jewel’ in it but, to my mind, ‘jewellery’ is anything at all that people wear whose only function is decorative.

Nowadays, ways to tell the time – not least mobile phones – are ubiquitous. No one looks at their watch to find out what time it is anymore. So, yes, whether we like it or not, watches are jewellery.

Having said that, they are – in my view at least – the very best kind of jewellery, jewellery that is perfectly suited to the more restrained, post-financial crisis world we’re living in. I say this for two reasons.

The first is that we can still pretend they’re tools, still pretend that we need them to do a job. No one would begrudge a man a way of telling the time at a convenient glance.

The second is even more important: they are more subtle – and we can judge them on less fickle terms – than jewels. Unlike a diamond ring, for instance, we can look at a watch and admire it not for how shiny it is but rather for the ingenuity of its mechanism, the years of brand heritage that it carries, or the engineering inventiveness that made it possible.


Everyone can stare at a solitaire and immediately recognise its size and brightness. But to the untrained eye, a Patek Philippe Calatrava looks much like a Timex. A Rolex Cosmograph, much like a Swatch Chrono. That’s the appeal to me. When you’re wearing a quality watch, you’re not shouting it to the world but rather to a small group of like-minded lunatics as fanatical as you.

So, yes, watches are jewelley.

And I think it’s interesting to note that they’re the only universally accepted form of jewellery for men. There is no other type of jewellery a man can wear that doesn’t carry negative connotations or will make a bad impression to someone, somewhere.

For women of course the rules are more relaxed and watches are just one canon in their jewellery arsenal. But it’s a very special canon indeed because it can be used to break into a traditionally male-dominated world.

Let me see if I can illustrate: Mrs Fool works in a very male-dominated profession and some of the colleagues and clients she meets sometimes find it hard to know how to kick-off a conversation. Well, her Cosmograph Daytona has started many more positive conversations that a necklace ever could.

Peter Roberts, veteran watchmaker and Technical Director at Bremont:

The Fool has expressed my exact thoughts better than I could have done so myself. There’s nothing for me to add.

Elizabeth Doerr, one of the world’s foremost writers on horology:

I’ve little to add to what The Prodigal Fool has said other than to congratulate him on his suit; it’s very elegant.

Ken Kessler, world renowned watch journalist and audiophile:

I completely agree.

James Gurney:

Wonderful, let’s move on to the next question.

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