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Baselworld Annual Watch Fair 2012
"Oyster Perpetual Datejust" wristwatches, manufactured by Rolex
Bloomberg—Bloomberg via Getty Images

I was so excited when it arrived. I opened the box and was immediately enraptured by its sublime beauty.

It seemed as if this Rolex Explorer was made not of stainless steel, but some kind of unearthly metal. Quite simply, it felt like nothing I had ever held before. I found myself checking the time on the watch not because I needed to know, but just because I wanted to catch a glimpse of its face again.

I was sure that this gorgeous piece of horological perfection was going to rock my world.

But first impressions aren’t everything, and infatuation eventually wears off.

As amazed as I was by the Rolex’s hefty weight, incredible attention to detail, and pinpoint accuracy, I couldn’t shake the feeling: I was wearing $6,000 on my wrist.

I didn’t own the watch (it was a rental from the good folks at Eleven James, who let me try their service), but that didn’t change things. I was conscious of it nearly all of the time. Walking down the street, riding the subway, shopping in stores, I was aware of the (surprisingly light) lug of metal and clockwork on my wrist. The guilt was immediate and unavoidable.

This stemmed from my foolish fear that people would notice it, and therefore treat me differently. This fear ended up being completely unfounded, as only one friend noticed it before I told them about it.

Only those with a keen eye for timepieces noticed what it was — pretty much everyone else completely ignored it, likely mistaking it for any other stainless steel watch and wristband. I’m pretty sure I got more comments on my usual Seiko 5, which I bought for just $60 on Amazon.

I realized nobody can really tell what you’re wearing on your wrist unless you show them intentionally. And if you’re wearing an expensive watch, do you really want to shout about it? If you bring it to the attention of anyone you don’t know very well, you’ll just look like a jerk.

I quickly realized that the only reason you should buy and wear an expensive watch is because you want to — not because you’re trying to impress anyone. Unless you wheel and deal with watch aficionados, you’re probably not going to.

When you’re spending this kind of cash on yourself, you should be spending it for your own enjoyment. Don’t wear a luxury watch for prestige and status because it’s not going to work. The only ones who will notice and comment on it are already experts. And if you get to talking with them and don’t know your Tourbillon from your chronograph, you’ll look silly anyway.

When I strapped on the Rolex, I thought it was going to change my world. It didn’t, but it did change my worldview.

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