You can have the finest steak on Earth, cooked by the world’s greatest chef. But if it’s served to you on a plain white dish, with no accompanying dressings, and you’re sitting on a bench in an empty cafeteria, you won’t be inclined to fork over 200 bucks for this meal. And that’s because the finer things in life require a bit of showmanship, a bit of an event. I blogged before about the experience (which I call the girlfriend experience) of shopping at a high end authorized dealer and I’ve also blogged about the context required to enjoy a nice timepiece (Of Vice And Men). Well, today, let’s examine another important apsect of acquiring a fine timepiece.
A couple of years ago, I was having a business lunch with a very young and successful guy. Inevitably, our conversation turned to timepieces. I was wanting a Panerai at that time and this guy had one. We chatted about it. And he was very excited to describe the presentation box that housed his Panerai when he bought it from our local authorized dealer. He told me, “Opening a Panerai box is an event. It’s an occasion. It’s high end and spectacular.” Have you ever seen a Panerai box? The dude was right.
Now, one of my main timepiece-collector buddies and I recently discussed this phenomenon. He, like myself, feels that many high end presentation boxes are nearly as impressive as the timepieces they contain. He wonders which percentage of a timepieces’ retail price is accounted for by the presentation box. I mean, some of these boxes are just sensational. I have no idea how to answer this question. But my pal suggested that I blog about watch presentation boxes. And I realized that this really deserves a blog post because a box can add so much to the experience of picking out a new piece.
My first proper automatic timepiece was a wedding gift from my wife. I was dying for a chronograph TAG Heuer at that time. I opened up this nicely wrapped gift to find myself holding a very heavy square box. On the top, I found a leather (or faux leather) padding with a gorgeous color TAG Heuer logo. My pulse quickened. I knew what it was, but I couldn’t believe it. Part of me was dying to see which piece was inside, but part of me just wanted to keep admiring the gorgeous box with its beautiful trim. This is the effect that a great presentation box can have and it’s certainly more relevant when your watch is a gift. Inside my TAG box was my automatic chronograph with all of its instructions manuals in a leather, wallet-type folder with a TAG logo. Here I am, several years later, and I am still impressed by the presentation that my watch was delivered in. And it added greatly to my experience.
Once you have opened your watch and started wearing it, the box is typically stored somewhere at the bottom of your closet. You may not see it again for years. And you may wonder, as my friend does, how many hundreds of dollars out of your watch’s price went toward that big box that now sits at the bottom of your closet. I have demonstrated, however, that it may well have had a huge impact on your experience when receiving or buying your watch.
I have owned many timepieces over the years. One of the most impressive boxes I ever encountered was the Longines Legend Diver. This was, by far, the largest presentation box that I (or anyone else who saw it) has ever seen. It is a giant box with a leather fasterner. Inside, you find the watch with an engraved plaque. And a drawer slides out from underneath that contains the manuals as well as a booklet celebrating Longines’ sports exploits. It is quite something, especially considering the rather modest size of the watch itself!
At the other end of the spectrum, you have Hamilton. But this makes sense. We all know that Hamilton is all about value for money, more bang for your buck. And perhaps they keep their costs low by cutting back on the boxes. But it shows. I remember buying my last Hamilton and being somewhat underwhelmed with its rather “cheap” plastic box and lack of fanfare with its packaging. Really not impressive. But hey — the watch was a bargain so how can you complain? Oris, however, have some superb boxes despite their value pricing. I had a BC4 with a really cool black box with red trim. Really nice.
One of my favorite boxes is Tudor. It should come as no surprise that the Tudor box is the exact shape and size of a Rolex box. Despite the small size, the box is really cool and feels quite high end, quite luxurious. I hate the green and gold Rolex colors, but my Tudor box is black with red trim. Very cool.
And the king of all boxes? Oh yeah! You know what it is? Panerai. Oooooh mama! To be more specific, it’s the limited edition Panerai box. These boxes, for certain limited pieces, are larger than the standard Panerai boxes. This is partly because they house a rolled-up certificate signed by Panerai’s CEO. They come with a custom key that you can use to actually lock the box. The top layer with the watch can be removed and, on the lower layer, you will find the booklets, COSC certificates, alternate rubber strap and Panerai screwdriver for changing the strap. Everything is wrapped in velvet and there is even a cloth that protects the top of the wooden box from the outer cardboard box. Oh man, it’s quite something.
Now, I’m not saying to choose your timepiece based on its packaging. But, for sure, the right box can really add to your VIP experience and enhance your enjoyment on the big day. Happy shopping. As always, the fun is in the search.