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The Zuckerberg Effect: Do you need to dress up to wear a luxury watch?

Watches have always been a status symbol. The earliest watches - essentially miniature clocks worn on a chain around the neck - were useless for telling the time. Their highly inaccurate verge and foiliot movements meant the single hour hand could sprint ahead or fall behind the actual time by many hours within a single day.


These watches weren't for timekeeping. They weren't admired for their accuracy or for helping the wearer keep to a schedule. Rather, their appeal lay in their unusual shapes and intriguing mechanisms. Designers vied to make the most unusually shaped watch, and designs ranged from animals to flowers to fruit to books. These clock watches were jewellry items, worn by the 16th century nobility. to denote their power in society.


To this day, people wear watches as an overt or subtle statement about their power and status.


Yet the world is changing and becoming more democratic. Power and status are shifting. In high places, the old values of the noblity have fallen away, creating space for new ideas and approaches to emerge.


Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of one of the world's biggest companies, goes to work wearing a hoodie. Some called him "immature" for sticking with his relaxed outfit even on the day of Facebook's IPO. Others praised his no nonsense attitude. "When you’re worth $20 billion, you can wear whatever the hell you like," the New York Post said.


The same debate is going on in the world of luxury watches. In 2012, the US imported $2.4 billion of Swiss watches. This is half of the $4.8 billion worth of Swiss watchs imported by Hong Kong.


Some have said this is because Americans don't understand style. "With the laid-back, casual, informal attitude of most Americans, it's no wonder that timepieces aren't considered important and sales in the U.S. are lower than Asia," one American watch afficinado said in a forum.


Needless to say, he was quickly shouted down.


"Americans and Canadians have always been individualistic. And I think that's far preferable to force fitting yourself into rigid rules of outward appearance," was the first response.


What do you think? Is it okay to wear a luxury watch with a t-shirt and jeans? Or do you need to develop a more sophisticated style before you're ready to adore a timepiece?


Image credit: Mark Zuckerberg by B. D. Solis.

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