Monday, May 5, 2014

The Eleven James "Rent A Luxury Watch" Idea

Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore 2014
I love blogging about really high end watches, but only a pinnacle of people can really own one. Of course there is the new "Eleven James"  business  that has recently made some news. One can rent a high end watch for an introductory price of  $249 a month, but then you are only privy to some cheaper models.

Company founder, Randy Brandoff has a point.  Spending an exorbitant amount of money on a watch that may not feel comfortable on the wrist or has a dial that is almost impossible to decipher, is a bit of a gamble. So why not rent the watch, and if you simply cannot part with it; buy it. He claims the wealthy are getting smarter about spending and would rather rent than own.
I must admit I am no where in the league of uber- wealthy, but I just cannot come to terms with the fact that renting a watch is more financially savvy than actually owning one.  For example his "Aficionado" plan, one has to pay $2,700 for three two month long watch rotations a year. Watches available at this price range from $7,000 to $15,000.  If one pays $4,850, one is privy to six two month rotations per year.  Up a notch to the "Virtuosa" plan and one pays $9,700 for three rotations of watches in the $30,000 to $50,000. $17,250 gets you six rotations a year for watches in this range. However after spending all this money, one is left with nothing to show for it.  A potential asset becomes nothing more than a monthly expense like the electricity or phone bill.

Eleven James is servicing those that have it all and thus a shortened excitement span for new toys, kind of like a seven year old kid with a new lego set.  Get excited! Build the lego model! Glance at it a time or two! ... Pay it no more mind!
So in this case, one can rent the watch; impress some friends; admire it and return it.  This is really a great idea; however, it makes me kind of uneasy.  I mean real high end jewelry companies rent out magnificent pieces for red carpet wearing, but those pieces are designed as showpieces destined for stardom. 
The stance of high end watch manufacturers are more on the individual level, as though a watch accessorizes the very personality of a person.
Calibre de Cartier Diver - 2014

I asked the opinion of a Rolex wearing youngster fixated in high end luxury watches.

"You heard of this new Rent-A-Watch idea, where you pay say 500 bucks a month and you get to wear a really high end watch for a while?" I casually asked.
"Why would I do that?" , he asked
"I don't know... maybe so you can try out a couple different watches without actually buying them.", I said
"Nah!! Imagine a friend walked up to me and said "Hey cool watch. Did you just get it?"...
"NO! I'm renting it!" I'd rent a sports car.  Not a watch!" he said.

Is Eleven James marketing to the wannabees of the world, whose personal financial statement does not quite match up to the idealized versions of themselves or is it an  excellent service filling a former vacancy in horological environment?
Of course it all depends on ones vantage point and attachment to material things. The Rent A Timepiece idea is to create an impression of wealth.  It is not an investment of fortunes nor does it add to the persona of a person, it is merely a fleeting object like time itself. Now that's not necessarily a bad thing - on the contrary its truly delightful.  The Rent-A-Timepiece idea promotes the feeling of daring adventure.  The timepiece is strapped to ones wrist for that moment in time where an instant impression is all that is needed to solidify a foundation of lasting respect. It may be in the crucial moments of decision making where a glint of a watch beneath a starched cuff raises an appraising eyebrow.

However when the year is up and money is spent, there is nothing to show for it aside for a wrist shot or two.  I am not sure if this can be called clever spending as Randy Brandoff claims, but rather frivolous spending meant for instant enjoyment. The only way this can work in my mind is to use this service as a "Rent to Buy" rather than a Netflix type service.