What is the Value of a $2.6 Million Watch?

72px-Vraagteken.svgThe Patek Philippe 5175R Grandmaster Chime Watch is clearly a work of art. It represents the top of the line and is undeniably beautiful. Yet one can ask: what purpose can it possibly serve if the majority of the population cannot buy it? How does it help society as a whole?


RTO mini2Free Book: Return to Order: From a Frenzied Economy to an Organic Christian Society—Where We’ve Been, How We Got Here, and Where We Need to Go


It is true that not everyone can afford the $2.6 million watch, but everyone can admire the craftsmanship that goes into an artistic masterpiece of this sort. There is a dedication to the perfection of the pieces that is mindboggling and reflects centuries of Christian tradition. The attention to detail is astonishing. The love of making something beautiful for beauty’s sake is clearly seen in the workmanship of those who assembled this amazing watch.

In our politically-correct world, such admiration counts for little. It is much more fashionable to write off this $2.6 million watch as a superfluous luxury using money that might be better spent helping the poor or some other purpose. The politically correct would say the watch has no social value.

However, the Patek Philippe 5175R watch offers all society something of inestimable value. It provides a standard of excellence that belongs to everyone.

The high craftsmanship of this watch is the model for all watchmakers. Thus, all watchmakers are inspired to foster in their own way a dedication to perfection and attention to detail. Looking at this watch’s beauty, they all sense the full beauty of their craft.  Based on this watch’s design, other watchmakers find inspiration for their own beautiful watches proportional to the budget of those at all levels of society that prefer to buy their handiwork. Their watches become not just practical instruments, but works of art or even family heirlooms that could be passed down for generations. The spirit of craftsmanship of this fine watch permeates throughout the craft and, yes, to all of society.

But the watch not only provides a standard of excellence, it also provides a launching pad to dream of even greater things. It is only natural that when someone finishes making something beautiful, it prompts the person to think of creating even greater beauty. Every new creation triggers the same question: “How might I do this better and more beautifully?”

The role of the $2.6 million watch is not to be the plaything of the rich. Rather, in an organic society, it serves to push things toward higher perfection. And when something becomes more perfect, it elevates the whole class of things. The quest for a perfect watch pushes all watchmaking upward toward perfection. All society benefits from this constant push upward. This quest is in fact the basis of all culture.

Finally, beautiful things tend to appear in public places since they are made to be displayed. They tend to create a world of beautiful things that come to belong to everyone, not just rich people. Everyone is enriched in such a world of wonder. Christian civilization gave ample testimony of this role when it filled the world with rich and magnificent liturgy, art, architecture, and so many other marvels that were fully integrated into the lives of the common people, allowing them to live their ordinary lives in extraordinary ways.

The tragedy of today’s cheap culture of instant gratification is that it deadens people’s sensitivity to the beauty of crafted things in general. It is not that we no longer can afford craftsmanship; everyone buys terribly expensive gadgets and gizmos. Rather, craftsmanship is no longer so universally valued.

That is why a society that fails to admire the beauty of watches like the Patek Philippe Subscription135175R does so to its detriment. When people admire great things, they acquire something of the stature of that which they admire. But when people become immersed in the cheap, superficial and sensational, they create a culture where more value is given to the material over the spiritual, the useful over the beautiful, and the common over the extraordinary. All culture deteriorates and people lose their capacity to dream of a more beautiful and better world.

The watch belongs to a fortunate individual who has decided to invest in a work of art. But the rest of society definitely benefits from its high standards. Some might claim that the Patek Philippe 5175R Grandmaster Chime Watch is not for everyone — but, actually, it is.

As seen on American Thinker

  • Mark Kalpakgian

    And as Newman wrote, in the end the beautiful is always useful! You have done a good job illustrating this point. Thank you!

  • Edward Koestner

    Mark you are so right. God is Beauty, Truth, Oneness and Goodness. When observing the material creations of men, which are like “grandsons” of God, we see that when any one of these aspects are missing, God is not well reflected.

  • elcer

    This gives me a different perspective on things that are well made and cost a lot. I never looked at myself as being politically correct when denying myself things I can live without so I can give more to charity. Should I just indulge? Or are you merely speaking of things that are truly unaffordable? I am not certain how Jesus would respond to this. My question is not critical but sincere.

  • mister malted

    This is perhaps one of the most bizarre arguments I have
    ever read defending wanton excess. Consider
    this money. How many clinics or schools
    could be built? How many people fed? How many homeless helped?

    So, I supposed which one of Jesus’ disciples would most likely
    wear a Patek Philippe? Judas Iscariot I
    believe. He would have enjoyed flashing
    it around the table at the Last Supper.

    • Mike

      Actually, the disciple of Jesus that would say what you just said is Judas Iscariot, for he said a similar thing when Mary Magdalen anointed Jesus’ feet with ointment worth 30 pieces of silver! How many poor did Judas feed with his 30 pieces of silver? None!

      Magnificence is a virtue!

      • Mike

        I would also argue that part of the spirit of poverty is to enjoy the beauty and magnificence of the goods of the rich without wanting “thy neighbors goods” and without resenting the fact that the rich have such goods. The Judas Iscariot murmur, repeated over and over again by communists, socialists, and liberals of all stripes, is a sinful disorder! As Dr. John Rao said with different words something to the order of, “if the only beauty is that of the harlot, we will all find ourselves attracted to evil inclinations.” Catholicity is about fast and feast, not fast only, and not feast only! It’s o.k to be delighted by the beauty and magnificence of this wrist watch! It’s also o.k to be poor and practical. What if we are rich and practical, can things “be done on earth as it is in heaven?”

        There was a time when men were more contemplative with their wealth then they became after the industrial revolution!

    • fderf

      The making of that watch employed people across the globe from gathering the materials to designing the concept to its actual fabrication which likely required multiple employees. Also we are both material and spiritual beings and both aspects of ourselves must be fed. This is why we listen to music, decorate our homes, visit museums, go to national parks, put a flower on the dinner table. …And hopefully, buy something from those hard working artists and artisans, whatever the price range!

  • True blue

    Remember search for the kingdom and it’s righteousness AND EVERYTHING ELSE WILL BE GIVEN TO YOU. even if I could feed all the poor and they don’t receive the KINGDOM they will be doubly poor. Preach the gospel from the rooftops – John Paul ll, row into the sea to catch the big fish. Remember zaqeous, the Magdalene and her alibaster jar, Joseph of arimatea had a new tomb all worth very expensive 2000 years ago. Hollywood stars are rich and need extreme efforts to save them and they ‘deserve’ the kingdom just like everybody else.

  • True blue

    As I wrote below some people get filled with the everything else or trivia and don’t look for the kingdom nor are they involved in church life as Eucharistic Adoration, the Rosary within the church with church members, confession, daily mass and Holy Communion. Too many worldly occupations to do missionary work at work, school, at the mall, etc.

  • Mike

    Prof. Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira once said that “if a bridge is not contemplative, it is better for it to be practical then magnificent.” This watch is indeed finely crafted and possesses the virtue of magnificence. The only thing that could make it better, is if it had a sacred icon on it to raise ones mind and heart to the Almighty God, making it not just magnificent, but also contemplative!