Columns

2007.06.06 Just a snooty watch away from the good life

on . Posted in Nowhere Road

By RICH FOLEY

I’ve mentioned before my bad habit of accepting free magazine subscriptions, many of which end up being of no interest to me whatsoever. The Star continues to call me, wanting me to resubscribe (not even if they paid me), and I happily counted down the weeks until the New York Observer expired, only to have them extend my subscription four weeks so I could “renew without missing an issue”.

I had already promised my friendly local postmaster the weird, peach colored paper from New York would stop soon, then here comes four more of them to fill my P.O. box. At least they seem to have finally gotten the message. I can only hope that will be the case with The Robb Report.

The first issue of the self-proclaimed “Luxury Lifestyle” publication arrived last week and it was too big to even fit in my post office box. I retrieved the package (including bonus magazine and welcome letter) from the still-friendly postmaster and have now managed to plow my way through it.

I’m showing my age here, I guess, but I hate magazines that have dozens of pages of advertising before you even get to the table of contents. That’s the case here. The table of contents starts on page 55, the list of contributors on 64, the editor’s note on 72, and on page 89, the first article finally begins.

Since the Robb Report (and just who is “Robb,” anyway?) is courting the luxury market, items us normal slobs might buy are nowhere to be found. No ads for, say, Coke or Pepsi, McDonald’s, Tide or Target. There are quite a few ads for cigars, which are still acceptable in Rich People World, it seems. Other than that, page after page of ads for upscale stuff like...Hertz Rentals?

Actually, the ad is for the Hertz “Prestige Collection,” which features the Audi Q7 and other cars you and I will never touch. In fact, Cadillac is the lowliest auto manufacturer to advertise in the magazine. Then the ads jump to Jaguar, Aston-Martin and far pricier transportation.

But a realization came to me while studying the publication: If I really want to fit in as one of the successful people the magazine is targeting, I need a watch with an unpronounceable name that costs more than a nice house.

Think I’m kidding? The magazine’s choice as best watch is the Audemars Piguet Millenary MC12 at only $236,200. The magazine calls it “a more fitting companion piece to its namesake Maserati sports car than any other auto-themed watch.”

Forty or so pages later I’m stunned to see an ad for the Maserati auto itself, “priced from $110,600.”  For the cost of the Maserati watch, I could buy two Maserati cars, a nice Seiko, and still have enough left over to buy gas for a quick trip to, Alvordton, maybe?

And that’s not even the most expensive watch. The Audemars Piguet company also manufactures the Tradition of Excellence Cabinet No. 5, weighing in at a whopping $320,300. The sales tax alone on this could buy you a decent used Maserati.

But why so much for a watch? Isn’t it obvious? “With its visible movement composed of clean rounded shapes and brushed metal surfaces, the piece also pays homage to mid-20th-century industrial designer Raymond Loewy, who conceived the streamlined S1 locomotive and the modern Coca-Cola bottle.” They left out the part about Loewy also designing Studebakers in the early 1950s. I guess that little fact might not impress anyone rich enough to be considering the watch.

But watches really seem to be one of the “must-have” items if you’re going to run with the rich crowd. There are ads in the magazine for over 30 watch brands, almost all of which I’ve never heard of before. I kept looking for a Rolex ad, but no, not a one in sight. Not expensive enough, maybe.

Instead there are names like Bvlgari (yes, that’s spelled correctly, and no, I can’t pronounce it, either). I can tell you it’s only available in select cities like Aspen, Bar Harbour, Beverly Hills, Chevy Chase and Palm Beach.

Most of the watch ads have a similar short list of exclusive sites they’re available at, as if short supply somehow means quality. But with over 30 brands advertised, over 15 of them have to rank in the bottom half, quality wise. A few have to be the Yugo or Daewoo of watches, no matter what the cost.

My advice? Skip the snooty watch and go with a Timex, available exclusively at every drug and discount store that will have them.

    – June 6, 2007 

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