“Do you ever struggle with the relationship b/t obscene wealth inequality and luxury watches?” That’s the question put to HoDinkee’s Managing Editor on Instagram (image courtesy valetmag.com). Stephen J. Pulvirent’s answer reveals that yes indeed, he’s morally conflicted . . .
“Luxury objects can be a vector of culture,” Mr. Pulvirent proclaims. Wait. What? merriam-webster.com defines vector as: “to guide (something or someone, such as an airplane, its pilot, or a missile) in flight by means of a radioed vector.” So Mr. Pulvirent believes luxury watches somehow reflect or guide the wider culture. News flash: they don’t.
Watch ads, sure. Watches? Not at all. The $12,900 Chopard Alpine Eagle, for example, tells us nothing about the wider culture. Nor has it changed anyone’s views on global warming, abortion or the minimum wage. If there is a watch -> culture connection (e.g., Oris’ greenwashing), I’ve yet to read Mr. Pulvirent’s take on the subject.
“I think it’s very possible to both enjoy luxury objects and to believe the world can and should be more equitable,” Mr. Pulivert asserts. Well of course it is! The world is full of champagne socialists – people who seek to remove personal freedom while exploiting the status quo for personal gain. And enjoying its fruits. Including luxury watches.
Depending on the severity of the political remedy proposed, these people are generally known as hypocrites. To his credit – or not – Mr. Pulvirent is kinda sorta ashamed of the enjoyment he receives from his luxury watches. You know, as a social justice warrior. “It might not be the most noble part of my character,” the Managing Editor admits.
Is it not noble to patronize the horological arts? To use your good fortune to subsidize the creation of watches that are works of art? And as you do so there’s nothing to stop you from doing your bit to tackle the “obscene wealth inequality” that’s “one of the great crisis of our times.”
Mr. Pulvirent could, for example, send the IRS more of his income than legally required. He could tithe to a charity or donate time and/or money to a political party working to increase employment, wages or both. Or take a salary cut and hire some more junior editors, spreading his income more equitably. He is far from powerless.
What about highlighting the abominable conditions under which Apple’s Chinese workers labor to create watches? Why is the vanguard of the watch lifestyle staying silent while the most popular watch ever made in history is assembled by oppressed people in dismal factory towns for poverty wages – even as Chinese buyers loaded-up on Pateks, Vacherons, Audemars etc.? What of that income inequality?
Mr. Pulvirent leaves the job of telling the truth about watches to The Truth About Watches, lest he put his considerable income at risk. I agree: that’s not very noble of him.