The Lab

Opulence vs Luxury

Posted on September 2, 2011 by Linde Werdelin

by Dario Fernandez de Villavicencio

In difficult times many resort to punishing luxury by purposely mistaking it for opulence. Both, if not understood properly are easily put together and therefore shunned. Opulence is decadent, unjustified, insulting, and distasteful… while luxury is exclusive, unique, private and rewarding. To mistake luxury with opulence is a crime in itself and does a disservice to all in the industry, sellers and buyers alike. Spending money lately has become something dirty, unethical… to the point of making you feel guilty. The perception of luxury, glamour and class are many times mixed almost always confused. Glamour has the danger, if cheaply executed, turn an ordinary person into a hooker or dope dealer lookalike. Glamour well interpreted will unequivocally result in style.

It is only understandable that the “bling” was acceptable when the economies went beyond expectations for almost a decade. Most were more obsessed in spending rather than making sure that they earned enough. Now that the good times are over, and the bad times seem to be with us for more than expected, the gold and diamonds are definitely not so “fashionable” anymore. That’s fine by me since I have never been an advocate of the “bling” anyway. Good riddance. What is beginning to be worrisome is that luxury as a whole is being targeted by a new wave of envious leftist consciousness… this is where I draw the line.

Luxury is not opulence. It can be a unique watch, a private Jet, a sports car or simply a cigar with a bottle of Cognac watching a sunset. It is not necessary expensive since more than a matter of money as it is a matter of privileges. Granted, many times privileges come with money but not always. Luxury should always be personal and private. Luxury is not meant to be flung or bragged about in public. If this is the case, the distasteful line of opulence has been crossed. If one truly enjoys luxury there is no need to show everybody your most recent Patek perpetual or AP repeater. That is something that should be for you and only you. If you feel the urge to brag, you are buying for the wrong reasons. A different thing is to be proud if approached by a fellow enthusiast to admire your latest prized possession. That is simply a way to share a common passion with a friend or a stranger.

Luxury is a personal choice. To one it might mean to have many watches to wear on different occasions, to another it could simply be to have one watch to wear for all occasions… hell, to some it could even mean to wear no watch at all! There are those who consider it luxury to take a helicopter very early in the morning to be dropped off on top of a mountain and ski all the way down in virgin snow. Personally that is what I would define as a nightmare. My concept of perfect skiing is waking up late in the morning and going straight to the restaurant (preferably with a Michelin star…or two) while waiting for those fooled into thinking this skiing is actually fun. No sir, they do not fool me (have you ever noticed that after a morning of skiing everybody looks like sh..?). On the other hand, being a lover of the aquatic underwater sports I would love to spend ten days at sea on a catamaran with four immersions per day and half a ton of photographic equipment. In turn, I reckon this might not be for everybody… One man’s dream is another man’s nightmare.

Dario Fernandez de Villavicencio is a good personal friend as well as a long term friend of LW. He was one of our first retailers in Madrid (where we have just opened with El Corte Ingles) and was involved in the idea behind the Oktopus Moonphase – developed during a long June summer evening in Denmark. Dario is also a prolific writer sharing his horological passion and insights in many places including his blog KronosBlog and The Watch Enthusiast – a huge resource in the watch industry.

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