Do High Prices Define Luxury Watches?

Yet Hassan Akhras, a collector in Dubai and the founder of the Arab Watch Guide, a club for watch enthusiasts, believes there are boundaries: “Collectors research a lot, so if a brand raises prices, it raises questions.”

While a small percentage of collectors are happy to flaunt watches as “rich club” membership cards, he said, others — prompted by price increases they believe to be unjustified — have reconsidered watches that they think have a better price-quality relationship, such as Chopard’s Alpine Eagle and Bulgari’s Octo Finissimo.

The Octo Finissimo starts at $13,300, in stainless steel. That price, according to Bulgari’s watch division managing director, Antoine Pin, was guided by a “humble approach by a team who had everything to prove on the market” and was priced as “not too expensive compared to what Bulgari had historically sold and not expensive at all for what the product is.”

Looking at the flip side, is there risk for the brand if a watch is considered too cheap?

Some executives, including Mr. Pontroué and Mr. Aeschlimann, said they believe so. And Julien Tornare, chief executive of Zenith, echoed the sentiment: “It is like with wines, the more you know about the product, the more you are focused on the product; the less you know, the more you are influenced by the price.”

Still, Mr. Pin is convinced that “there’s respect for brands pricing watches fairly.” And Claudia D’Arpizio, a partner at Bain & Co. in Milan, agreed that “paying a fair price is part of offering a good customer experience.”

And some watch specialists maintain that price isn’t the real consideration at all.

“A luxury watch is defined by its quality, not its price,” said Mike Nouveau, a vintage watch dealer based in New York City. “I have never heard a luxury quality watch being associated with cheap — good value, yes, but not cheap.”