When luxury becomes ludicrous

The boundary between extravagance and indecency, or even audacity and vulgarity, isn’t always clear-cut. Jacob Arabo (Jacob & Co) and Flavio Briatore recently proved this once again at Baselworld by unveiling a ridiculous watch priced at 18 million Swiss francs. For as daring as it may be, this uber-flashy Billionaire luxury Rolex replica watches is also indisputably indecent. Let’s be serious: nothing can justify such a sum, not even the 260 carats of diamonds—a “world record” claim its designers—adorning the excessive timepiece.

Make no mistake: this creation is the work of two successful and perfectly competent businessmen who, throughout their respective careers, have demonstrated their ability to surprise and take risks—as well as the occasional back road, resulting in brushes with the law—and who have willingly used scandal as a springboard for their business ventures. It is undoubtedly in the same vein that this project was co-developed by Jacob & Co and Briatore’s brand, Billionaire.

However, when the (extravagant) price tag becomes the key sales argument or talking point, this obviously raises a number of questions. Of course, the watchmaking industry is no stranger to the matter. Last year, the jewelers Graff set the indecency bar pretty high by launching its multicolored jewelry replica watches uk, “Hallucination”, at a cool 55 million dollars. Its name was clearly more than appropriate. Admittedly, the Billionaire is far less expensive than Graff’s offering, but the idea is much the same. It’s a mindset on which Molière would have pounced with savage relish, given his penchant for exploring the ridiculousness of vanity and staging the sad spectacle of those who measure self-worth on social courtesy and pretention. For above and beyond the successful publicity stunt, the Billionaire watch also reflects the world of the ultra-rich who, engulfed by wealth and ennui, buy luxury cars, yachts, villas and Russian girls in one fell swoop. Jacob & Co’s watch—a one-of-a-kind piece—will definitely be joining their wish lists.

The Billionaire aside, unfortunately extravagance and bad taste often invite themselves to the watchmaking table in various guises. From unwearable watches—always ridiculous but not necessarily precious—to unworkably complicated timepieces, some “watchmakers” have done considerable damage to the industry. Admittedly, they are generally no longer around to discuss it, but new usurpers emerge every year ready to get themselves noticed at any cost, with means and ridiculousness that know no bounds in the hunt for publicity.

Another highly fashionable trend is the gadget fashion replica watches, for which no sensible human being would pay more than a few hundred francs and yet for which fresh new brands are demanding a price that is a hundred times higher. Of course, it goes without saying that the ridiculous ones soon become those who are prepared to pay such completely unjustified sums.

Fortunately, to negate the popular French saying, ridiculousness does sometimes kill, particularly companies who push it beyond the limits of the reasonable. But there are also exceptions to the rule, as journalist Pierre Véron suspected over a century ago: “Ridiculousness, instead of killing some people, only makes them richer”.