Are you wearing a poor man’s watch?


Let me start by saying that there is absolutely nothing wrong with being poor. And second, this story isn’t about being poor. In fact, it’s the opposite. It has to do with having enough money to buy a seriously good watch. So the question I pose to you is what is – a poor man’s watch?


Rich man or poor man

Well, it’s both yes and no. Let me give you two examples, each from different ends of the income spectrum and hopefully you see what I mean.

Example #1 – Ali is a migrant worker from Bangladesh. He works in construction as a general labourer. We works from 7am to 6pm with one lunch break and another tea break. He spends most of his time either working or on his prepaid phone.

During a shopping trip to pick up instant noodles, salt, eggs etc, he spots a watch shop. So he has a closer look and sees a veritable clone of a Casio G-Shock. Big clunky bumpers, several sub-dials with a large electronic time display is enough to make him fall in love. So he shells out around USD15 for this piece. He can afford that but he can’t afford the USD100 for a real G-Shock.

So Ali is now wearing the poor man’s G-Shock.

Example #2 – Dorian is a car salesman. And business has been good, so he wants to buy a watch to show everyone that business is good. Dorian likes having his meals in nice places. It helps his sales if he is seen in nice places. In fact, he spends most of his money on being seen with nice things and in nice places.

One fine day, while heading to the carpark in a lavish shopping mall, he spots a watch in shop display. It looks just like the watch he saw in a magazine being worn by a celebrity. It’s not exactly the same brand as the celebrity’s watch but it’s really close. It’s mechanical and an automatic at that, the watch is Swiss Made and the case is rose gold. He goes inside the watch boutique to have a closer look.

Dorian sees the caseback of that watch – the rotor is 18k gold and the whole movement is superbly decorated. He wants it and pays the USD10,000 for the piece as he’d rather not pay the USD25,000 for the celebrity brand.

Dorian is now wearing a poor man’s Swiss watch.



It’s all in your head

So it’s not a cheap watch but a watch you buy mainly because the actual one you want is out of budget. This is a significant problem in the watch industry as perception is everything. In both examples, Ali and Dorian are wearing watches that they like. And for me, that’s the important thing and not buying something based on other people’s perception. Yes, buying the watch from the brand that attracted them in the first place would be great but life is never that easy.


How you perceive something to be, how you hope the people around you perceive it and then dealing with the limitations of reality. It is something I try to correct through my writing not just on this website but also in the various media outlets I write for. The problem isn’t in the person buying the item but in the perception of those around them. Of course, it can be argued that any purchase was premised on the potential perception change but I don’t buy that.


The reason is that as much as I move around in various social circles, I don’t see the same problem everywhere. Some circles really don’t care what you wear which is anathema to luxury types! And some circles care too much and it is no coincidence that I find many damaged members of society in those circles. So what I propose is the middle ground.

If someone has a nice watch, let’s leave it at that. There’s nothing wrong in buying something that looks similar.




There are caveats though. Buying what other people consider a poor man’s watch is fine. It’s your money and your wrist. Go ahead.


Buying a replica or imitation watch is just wrong. What’s the point? If you need to fake your way around other people then there are some issues beyond those covered on a watch website.