Another month, another reference to high end watches - haute horology - vis-a-vis high end audio. But, is there really any sort of formal alignment in reality, or is this merely another feeble attempt at attempting correlation without causation? Writes Srajan of 6Moons fame, “There’s no justification for high prices relative to time keeping” as he opined about said similarities between the watch and audio industries. Problem is, that while audio folks and marketeers would love to have strong correlations between these two industries, I just don’t see them, strictly speaking as someone who’s into horological time pieces myself.
First, to start with Srajan’s point, high prices in high end audio aren’t necessity relative or indicative to playback quality (or quantity) either. Case in point, mega-buck separates that don’t bring any more fidelity than a 30 year old Mac stack. Second, the horological industry as a whole is vastly, and I do mean vastly bigger than all of high end audio put together times one thousand. Thus, simply from a market cap / visibility perspective, high end audio is utterly dwarfed by Switzerland’s largest export good (next to chocolate of course). Third, the value proposition in high end audio is completely out of whack. Cables selling for tens of thousands of dollars vs. an Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Chrono retailing for $22k is positively hair raising to an outsider looking in. Fourth, the time keeping industry as a whole is running a far higher clout factor compared to the little peanuts we are. Take for example the media coverage just one swiss watch show produces via the usual suspects at Hodinkee, Haute Time or Worn & Wound and you’ll see the rift we are up against.
Finally, there’s just the overall quality of reporting that is just hilariously stacked against high end audio. Take for example the following two video reports to see what I mean:
AV Showroom reporting on whatevertheheckIcan’tevenwatchthis, vs. Hodinkee’s Basel show video, illustrates the point to a T.
Reporting and video issues aside, there’s a glimmer of hope with new sites like New Record Day, hosted by the affable Ron Brenay, which are gaining momentum and driving excitement towards high end audio.
Thus, while I personally would love to see high end audio elevated to the status of haute horology, we still have ways to go and the work that needs to be done to get there won’t be all peaches. I’ve always said that high end audio needs to simmer down each of the various factions and get behind a band wagon to lead the business to the 21st century. Time will tell!