This Fleeting Prestige

Tell me you didn’t see this coming: The hellish partnership between Bentley and Breitling, in which two brands (that were already over-producing their core items to an increasingly indifferent audience) combined to flood the market with ridiculously-priced watches that didn’t do a good job of serving either brand’s mission, has finally found its natural level at JomaDeals.

I betcha they can’t even move the watches at 70% off retail. Four grand would get you an Omega Speedmaster or a Rolex Datejust, either of which will be worth far more than this tonneau-cased monstrosity when you go to sell it. It’s an odd thing that’s happening out there in mass-market-luxury land: there’s more money than ever, printed by the trillions and just given away to the doubleplusgood members of our financial/political junta, but that rising tide isn’t lifting all the boats. Instead, you get a sort of herd/flock situation where every single junior guy on Wall Street wants an LV Submariner or a Milgauss or a Panny or whatever the watch of the moment is.

The only way Breitling is going to move these watches is to do what they should have done in the first place: given them away to everybody who buys a Continental or Flying Spur, raising the price of the car three or four grand to cover the cost of making them. But here’s the good news: with prices of the early W12 Bentleys also falling into the 70% off zone, now’s the time to be a big baller on a budget, 2007 style. You can get the car and the watch for $45k out the door. And will anybody know the difference?

13 Replies to “This Fleeting Prestige”

  1. Disinterested-Observer

    I see a couple ’08 Flying Spurs for a little over $40k near me. Is the maintenance like a Ferrari or a VW?

    • Jack BaruthJack Baruth Post author

      It’s like a Phaeton W12. Which is to say — a nightmare. The good news is that unlike VW dealers, Bentley dealers haven’t forgotten how to service them. But there are a lot of things that go wrong and they can be very expensive.

  2. Mental

    BaT recently had two Arnages sell in the $30k range. The big Bentleys are going for under $20 and in cases sub $10, tempting me into a terrible decision for used Accord money. Not to be a “baller” mind you, but to say I owned a Bentley, and I would probably get some cred from the students parking one in the faculty lot.

    Brietling on the other hand is a different animal. As an Air Force flyer, Navtimers were almost mandatory for anyone in a flight suit. Twice a year the local rep visits the Air Force Weapons School at Nellis AFB in Las Vegas and sells a stack of special branded watches to the graduating class. As a Lt, I wanted one, but their quality has fallen drastically, I don’t know an owner who didn’t have issues.

    Then there was the whole image. It used to represent an aviation professional, now they represent someone who wants to look like an aviation professional.

    I see old ones at Cool Vintage Watches, but can’t pull the trigger. Even as a Harley owner, I just don’t want to associate with that crowd.

    A new one? That’s like a 3rd of a used Bentley and from what I have seen, less reliable.

    • Jack BaruthJack Baruth Post author

      There’s a world of difference between an Arnage 6.75L, which is a genuine Bentley, and a Flying Spur, which is a VW Phaeton in a party hat.

  3. Apuleius

    Holy shit, that jomadeals site took me right back to that time years ago when I had to drive a relative to an outlet mall in Palm Springs *shudder*

  4. Dave L

    The watch industry is in a very strange place due to increasing prices over the past few years in a market that can’t support it. The higher end luxury brands can’t lower their retail prices in fear of losing loyal customers so many watches end up in the gray market. I’d hate to be an AD these days. Also, the latest releases at SIHH are absolutely ridiculous- most are 100k +.
    I’ll expect to see this Breitling on the next Enterprise manager I come across.

  5. Yamahog

    They got moxie asking Seiko spring drive money for something that took its color palate inspiration from a tube of Crest and its design inspiration from a German derivative of a English cottage industry.

    It’s fitting – ‘financial engineers’ show us that you can successfully ignore reality, and government bailouts for ‘financial engineers’ show us that you can’t successfully ignore the consequences of ignoring reality. You can juice the earnings per share next quarter by selling your brand, but the ROI is only favorable for the people who aren’t left holding the bag.

    Not only does Brietling have to settle for 70% of their sticker price, now they have a few folks talking about their beef with Brietling. Now that I’ve seen this, how could a brietling make me feel like a real man in front of my harem of waifus / anime girl body pillows??? And by extension, what are the chances that junior equity analysts in the bulge bracket are going to lust after this?

    “It’s like a cheap Rolex!”
    “Oh it’s like an Omega”
    “Except 70% off sticker! They don’t bother with all the extra steps to build a solid watch and they pass the savings onto you”

    • Ken

      I’ve been drooling over the Seiko Spring Drive / Grand Seiko for years. Someday I’ll treat myself.

      In the meanwhile I’ve been searching for a watch with similar movements (always wanted a sweeping second hand). I may slum it in a Bulova Precisionist, but they have yet to make a design I really like.

      I my last “big” purchase was treating myself to an Ebel Classic Wave. I dig the design and the durability. Someday I’ll get the Grand Seiko though…

  6. Rich

    Jack, are these Breitlings actually Swiss watches or do they just contain Chinese movements that you can find in many other much cheaper brands?

    • Jack BaruthJack Baruth Post author

      I don’t know. Most of them have ETA Swiss movements. Breitling has typically been a mid-tier maker which means it’s hard to say where they get their stuff.

    • dumas

      I had a quick look, and it appears that particular model uses an ETA2892-A2 base with a chronograph module and big date added. It’s reasonably Swiss in terms of material construction and assembly. I think I’d prefer a 7750, but I can see the argument for this choice.

  7. Steve Renwick

    Bentley Arnages are now available (in the SF Bay Area) at the kind of place that advertises “ASK ABOUT OUR FRESH START BANKRUPTCY PROGRAM!!”.

    As for Breitling Navitimers, well, the only guys who can afford one will need reading glasses to see the itty-bitty scales on them.

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