The Apple Watch Will Make the Wrists of the Super Rich Look A Lot More Like Yours and Mine

The new watch from Cupertino will help reduce income inequality in the way that really matters.


You can spend more than $60,000 for a Rolex. A watch made by A. Lange & Sohne known as the Grand Complication—just six were manufactured in 2013—was priced at $2.5 million.

But come next month, some fabulously wealthy watch wearers will trade in their handmade timepieces containing thousands of perfectly calibrated moving parts for a far more useful $349 Apple Watch that was mass produced in a factory in China. We'll find out a lot more about this new device when the Cupertino-based tech giant unveils new details at its "Spring forward" event later today. It's already been reveale

The Apple Watch |||

d that there will be an 18-karat gold version, which may go for as much as $10,000, so rich people will still be able to differentiate themselves. But the gold version will have the same innards and functionality as the basic version. The bottom line is that the Apple Watch is part of a trend in which the lifestyles and accouterments of the super wealthy increasingly look a lot more like yours and mine.

As the technology analyst Benedict Evans has noted, we already live in a world in which teenagers and billionaires carry the same mobile phones. Even if the bank accounts of the super rich are ticking up at a faster rate than those of middle-class Americans, all that extra dough is only good for buying goods and services that improve their lives in ever more marginal ways. 

The narrow lifestyle differences between the rich and middle class was a theme that Patrick Byrne, the libertarian CEO of, touched on in a fascinating onstage interview with Nick Gillespie (coming soon to Reason TV) that took place over the weekend at the New Hampshire Liberty Forum, an annual conference for libertarians held in Manchester. In response to a question from an audience member looking for career advice, Byrne quoted some wisdom he once heard his mentor, Warren Buffett, impart to a high school teacher.

Nick Gillespie and Patrick Byrne at the New Hampshire Liberty Forum. |||

The teacher was considering abandoning the profession he loved to try and earn more money. Buffett pointed out that these days super rich guys like him mostly eat the same food, wear the same clothes, and do all the same things as the middle class, so why make himself miserable at work just to travel better? Granted the Omaha billionaire is known for his frugality—Buffett continues to reside in the house that he purchased for $31,500 in 1958—and yes, even at $349, the new Apple Watch will be out of reach for most Americans. But if the new device is a runaway success, one day the poorest people in the world will be able to supplement the super computers already in their pockets with an accompanying device strapped to their wrists. 

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  1. all that extra dough is only good for buying goods and services that improve their lives in ever more marginal ways

    I don’t think I’d call owning a regulatory agency “marginal”.

    1. They also routinely buy their way out of the “managed care” treatment rationing mills that the prols are trapped in.

  2. I continue not to understand Apple, any of its products, and especially this watch. I’m an old man, so I wear a watch to tell time. Cause I hate pulling out my phone to check the damned time, which I have to do constantly given the nature of my work. So – a watch it is.

    A watch for any other purpose just baffles me.

    It’s like people who get Bluetooth and iPods and phones for use when they’re on their motorcycles. I’m like, “That’s part of what’s great about riding – no phones, no radio, no nothing by wind noise and my thoughts” (hence why I wear earplugs). If I need to call someone, I stop and call.

    Hmmm – I dunno. Love the tech on cars and bikes – the whole communication thing? I have no need nor desire to be constantly connected.

    1. Oh, PS, I used to buy $5 cheapies cause I broke them all the time working on my cars and stuff (cause I’d always forget to take them off). Now – I buy something quartz, not expensive, but nice looking. Just to tell time reliably and look halfway decent at work. That’s all.

      And now I remember to take it off when I’m working on the car.

      $350 for a WATCH?

      Uh, no.

      1. I buy $20 Timex watches because I am constantly smashing them or dunking them in water. I’m too dumb to learn from my past mistakes, so the logical thing to do is to minimize the replacement costs.

      2. I sympathize. I have devices, but not a cell -phone. Why? Because of the way I see people with cell phones treated. Their friends fell entitled to call them any time, and get snitty if their call isn’t answered for any reason short of bleeding.

        “Oh, but you can turn your phone off!”

        Yeah, right. I’ve seen how you treat people who did that when you had a little titbit of gossip you just HAD to share. If I wanted to be that connected to you, I’d propose.

        I’ve seen a co-worker program his phone to send a text automatically to every called that said “What part of ‘I’m at work’ did you fail to understand?”

    2. I have no need nor desire to be constantly connected.

      As a slightly less crotchety old man; I have a problem with the expectation of being connected and at others’ disposal at all times. The ‘Did you see my email?’ or ‘I saw you sent me an email?’ text or phone call needs to be banished. Similarly with ‘I sent you a text, why didn’t you call me?’

      IMO, the watch and greater prevalence of devices like this will only exacerbate the problem.

      1. Heh – I protest a little much 🙂 But I’m exactly with you.

        I do have some rules – you call me and don’t leave a message about the nature of your call, I call you back last. You bug me? Last. You leave me a brief msg about what you want – I call you right back. You fucking TEXT me when we could have had a 5 second conversation about X…end of the line. (fucking HATE texting – HATE it – just pick up the goddamned phone and call me)

        People learn pretty quickly.

        1. I am the opposite; don’t call me. Just fucking text me and tell me what you want, and I’ll deal with it when I have the chance. See, I rarely can answer when people call me, so I have to call and pick up the voicemail, and take notes and replay it to make sure I got it right etc.

          To me a text is polite; a phone call is an annoying intrusion that hassles me.

          1. I’m with you here. The only time my phone should ring is if you are literally on fire and I happen to be able to put the fire out at the moment.

            It’s less of a hatred of text issue and more of a volume of communication and/or immediacy issue.

            Neither texts nor emails explicitly require a response unless you ask for one. And if you ask for one, it better be a legit request. Otherwise, leave me alone/wait your turn.

          2. I could not agree more. I much prefer the written word over speech.

          3. I prefer texting or email because it is asynchronous.

            My daughter, I actually want to talk to her.

        2. Interesting. I text people for anything non urgent – thinking they can read it and respond when it suits them.

          I also like the brief message regarding the nature of the call; but many people have told me that they never listen to voice mail, they just scroll through missed calls to see who called.

        3. I find that for some people, if I call for a 5 second conversation about X, I get a 35 minute conversation about X, Y, Z, and a detailed analysis of their son’s studying habits and what I think it means when he refuses to study until the last day before the test. So I text about X and usually I just get a response about X. If texts start to wander to Y, Z, and others, I just ignore the subsequent texts until I have time to pretend that I care.

          Problem. Solved.

    3. I’m very fond of Apple products, but don’t understand the watch thing myself.

      1. I like Apple stuff, too – got the phone, iPod, and an iPad. However, I’m almost certain I’ll be able to make it through the rest of my life without the need for this watch. On the day it goes on sale, though, you know there’s going to be line around the block made up of the usual Apple dorks who think otherwise.

      2. That’s a lot of money for an ugly watch.

    4. I have no need nor desire to be constantly connected.

      My job requires it, but I don’t really mind. I have other uses for my phone.

      I wear a watch at work all the time, for the same reason. Even The Boy understands that a real watch classes up any outfit. He’s been bugging me to get him one.

    5. I have no need nor desire to be constantly connected.

      Besides, being constantly connected = tethered to your desk at work. If your boss can get a hold of you anywhere on the world at anytime and you can connect via VPN to your company’s intranet then you’re never really off the clock.

      1. Glass half full/half empty.

        I see the ability to connect from anywhere as a license to not be at my desk. If I can fix your problem from Asia, or western N Dakota, then I can travel to those places and still be able to support things from there.

        My father and I argue about this all the time. He is upset because I will bring the phone and laptop on a hunting trip. I tell him that if I didn’t I wouldn’t be able to go on many of the trips because there would be no one to support clients in my absence. But since I can react to disasters, I now can take 5 days to go bird hunting.

      2. I think the *ability* to be constantly connected is fantastic. I really dislike the way it’s turning out though. People walking around like zombies staring into their phones instead of getting the hell out of my way, for example.

  3. Granted the Omaha billionaire is known for his frugality?Buffett continues to reside in the house that he purchased for $31,500 in 1958

    Yet many of the Peanuts continue to repeat the old bromide that Buffett is a GREEEE-DY crony capitalist.

    1. Greed is good, if by greed you mean wanting more than what you have. If you want more, you have to earn more, and you earn more by doing more. When you get more by giving more, you’re doing God’s work. Like Sam Walton, who did more to help the poor than a thousand Mother Theresas ever could. What has Warren Buffett done?

      1. What has Warren Buffett done?

        Cast himself as a deceptive icon of ‘conspicuous austerity’ so as to draw attention to himself?

    2. Yet many of the Peanuts continue to repeat the old bromide that Buffett is a GREEEE-DY crony capitalist.

      Warren Buffett is a piece of shit.

    3. Just shut up and eat your cake, retard…

    4. Living frugally can also be a sign of greed.

      Just because you love and crave money does not mean that you actually want to spend it to buy luxuries for yourself. Some people are addicted to the mere acquisition of money as a form of hoarding and so they do not actually spend more than is necessary because once it is spent it is no longer theirs.

  4. If you want an Apple watch, why not just duct-tape your phone to your wrist like I do? (Some day I will buy a 50-foot phone cord from Staples so I can walk from room-to-room in my house without the phone coming unplugged from the jack.)

    1. Yeah, when we still had a cord-in-the-wall phone, I sprang for one of those 900 foot cords – best thing EVAR!

      Course, now it’s all wireless and goes out with the power and….*grumblegrumblegrumble* BACK IN MY DAY…..grumble

  5. The difference between the truly rich and the working poor – rich people spend most of their money on things which accumulate in value. Investments (obviously), truly valuable real estate, art, etc…

    A watch that will be worthless in 5 years? They might spend a relative pittance for it, but nobody who has to use credit to pay should even consider it.

    1. A watch that will be worthless in 5 years?

      It’ll be worthless because it won’t fucking work at all in five years. The battery will be junk by then, and it can’t be replaced.

      1. The battery will be junk by then, and it can’t be replaced.

        The battery will be junk. If the battery isn’t junk, the apps’ communication and/or memory requirements will have outstripped the hardware capacity by then or shortly thereafter.

  6. Apple Watch


    Beyond that, still not caring.

    1. I don’t know why, but this made me snicker audibly.

      “JERKWATCH” = lulz


      “I don’t like your jerk-off name, i don’t like your jerk-off face, I don’t like your jerk-off watch, and i don’t like you. Jerk-off. Do i make myself clear?”

      1. Sorry. I wasn’t paying attention.

    3. Well the JERKSTORE called and they are all out of you!


  7. I happened to be in the homes of two different wealthy people this weekend. They have quite a few other things that distinguish their lives from those of us who aren’t totally loaded, let alone those of us who are “working poor.” Even the cellphone example applies only because it’s a snapshot in time–go back a bit (and likely forward a bit) and the options available for people without lots of money narrow considerably in comparison.

    I’m mildly surprised how much people are willing to pay for cellphones when they absolutely can’t afford them.

    1. I’m mildly surprised how much people are willing to pay for cellphones when they absolutely can’t afford them.

      Or use them in a civil manner. STOP YELLING INTO YOUR PHONE.

      I know what you mean about the wealthy. Sometimes the ostentaciousness is mind blowing. Years ago, I did some work at a house where their bathrooms were nicer than my entire house.

      1. I’ve seen single rooms that are worth more than my house. Not to mention cars.

        I’m all for people being rich and having the opportunity to become rich. I’m just under no illusions that our lifestyles are remotely similar just because we both have the same cellphones and both look at pictures on Facebook.

        1. I’m just under no illusions that our lifestyles are remotely similar just because we both have the same cellphones and both look at pictures on Facebook.

          An old boss of mine is like that (and I’ll never again have a boss with bigger tits). She’s a former lawyer and her hubby was a partner at a top DC law firm and is now a VP for a VC company.

          She posted pics on FB of their his and her 558 Ferraris and pictures of their trip to the Nobel awards ceremony last year.

          Thanks. I needed to have my relative poverty rubbed in my face.

          1. I thought that’s what FB is for though – rubbing everything you have/experience in everyone else’s face?

        2. Cars are totally worth it though.

      2. I’m sorry about the yelling! At least I’m not as bad as my grandma, I don’t talk louder when calling long distance.

      3. I was looking at a really nice ($500k) houses recently and the real estate agent started going on about how the neighborhood was changing and within two or three years all the lots would have $1.5M+ houses on them. Couldn’t cross that house off my list fast enough-last thing I want is to be the poor asshole on the block in a house at the top of my price range.

        1. Speaking of that, we’re house watching now and just saw a price go up $100K. The bubble is baaack!

          1. It’s crazy…the first batch of spring inventory went on the market last week and in general the pricing seemed…optimistic.

        2. That’s silly, if its true you should have bought it. The house would have likely appreciated and you could have sold it at a profit. Bad move, thom.

    2. I’m ok with an adult overspending on a cellphone plan. What kills me is when friends of my kids have $$ data plans for their phones and they are in grade school.

      My kids would rant and rave because I wouldn’t get them a phone before they were in the 9th grade (15/16). According to them, they were the only kid outside of the Amazon rain forest without a smart phone.

      Judging from their friends, they were right. All of them seemed to have phones with $90/mo data plans when they were little shits. I can’t believe that adults would be willing to foot that bill, but then I’m an evil exploiter of kids.

    3. “I’m mildly surprised how much people are willing to pay for cellphones when they absolutely can’t afford them.”

      Poor people like conspicuous bling to signal that they aren’t *that* poor.

  8. Perfect example of capitalism narrowing the living standard gap between the “rich” & “poor” (& why the income gap is meaningless).

    1. Because no matter how high your income is, it is impossible to buy anything that the poor can’t buy.

  9. Very few of the fabulously wealthy are going to trade in their awesome status symbols for the same iWatch that all the proles are wearing.

    That is all.

    1. It used to be that they would be the first to buy all the new gadgets, because there weren’t as many then (1990’s) and the cost was more than the average person would tolerate for something that might not catch on.

      The early adopters at high levels were highly coveted by the tech firms.

      I can recall Ed Feulner being so proud of his new Palm Pilot, which we had no idea of how to use or set up.

  10. But come next month, some fabulously wealthy watch wearers will trade in their handmade timepieces containing thousands of perfectly calibrated moving parts for a far more useful hipster baristas who are already stuggling to have their parents pay off their student loans that paid for their B.A in Philosophy will waste $349 on an Apple Watch…


    1. Yes. Apple is certainly a luxury brand, but the numbers don’t at all correspond to wealthy people buying their products. Most Apple consumers are people who can’t really afford the products, I bet.

      1. More accurately, Apple is a brand that doesn’t bother with the low end. They don’t sell $200 laptops, but a $1000 Apple laptop is competively priced with other brands with similar specs.

  11. The apple watch is going to fail

    People in their 30s-40s don’t see the point of a ‘fashion device’ that isn’t any more useful than their phone

    People in the 40-50s want watches for ‘status/social-signaling symbols’ that show some individual’s respect for authenticity, quality and craftsmanship. You don’t wear a swiss watch it to tell time. You wear a swiss watch to wear a swiss watch. What it *isn’t* is almost as important as what it is. Sure, some “fabulously rich” people will buy these gizmos. They’re not buying them to ‘replace’ their status-timepieces. They’re buying them so they can talk about them at the next golf outing and impress their friends.

    1. I’m 57 and I wear a black rubber G-Shock. I also drive a 911…a used one 05 C2S.

      STEM career makes the two compatible. Though 911’s used to be cars that an engineer could afford new, now the intro Porsche is the used Porsche.

  12. Also = Google Glass.

    Show me the person still touting that shit, and I will show you a lonely retard.

  13. This trend has been going on since forever.

    Used to be only a very few rich people had indoor toilets, including chamber pots. Now everybody has indoor flush toilets. The only difference is that the rich buy Japanese electronic toilets.

    Used to be only the rich had personal transport, like horses or carriages. Now almost everybody has a car.

    On and on the list goes. Other than control freakery, I can’t imagine a single powerful person from, say, 1800 or 1900, who wouldn’t rather be a poor person today for all the advantages it has — cell phones, cars, TV, computers, airlines. Even the richest person from 1950 would have a lot to gain.

    1. Yep one of the main themes of the Rational Optimist

    2. You think that John D. Rockefellar would give up his wealth to be a MacDonald’s cashier, just to have the priviledge of using those touch screen registers? Do you really believe that MacDonald’s employees are empowered by those devices? Both seem incredible to me, though I’ve never actually owned an oil company or worked at MacDonald’s.

  14. My best friend’s mother-in-law makes $85 /hour on the internet . She has been out of work for 5 months but last month her pay was $16453 just working on the internet for a few hours.
    Visit this website ???????????????

  15. I hope Apple completely fails because of this idiotic status signal.

    I know they won’t, but I do so very much hope they do. The only company for which I have similar disdain is Microsoft, but that’s for a very different reason.

  16. we already live in a world in which teenagers and billionaires carry the same mobile phones

    When I was an 80s teenager, “poor” and even the “sort of poor” (like me) wore hand-me-downs and had to work a paper route to earn enough money to buy a POS Walkman.

    Nowadays – if you live in any city at least – even the so-called “poor” wear trendy clothes and walk around with more expensive electonics than what filled my entire house.

    It really is impressive how much richer we are.

  17. Mad TV: The iRack (Iraq)

    1. That was a funny segment.

  18. $60k for a Rolex, but (a) a portion of your purchase goes to support the Reason Foundation and (b) FREE SHIPPING!!!!!!11111oneone!!

  19. There’s no reason why my Flintstones era Timex couldn’t still serve all my time keeping needs. And it still would, if it wasn’t for the fact that my phone tells time just fine.

  20. Does anyone know what the Apple Watch does that will actually make my life better?

  21. What was awesome was when Samsung was trying to pimp their version of the Smartch a year or so ago with commercials showing some twat holding a Galaxy smartphone.

    And wearing the stupid watch.

    And then using the stupid watch to answer the phone – WHICH WAS IN HIS HAND AT THE TIME.

    Emperor. New clothes. But why bother making too much fun of it? Apple cultists will buy loads of these idiotic things no matter what anyone says. Like if the watch LITERALLY said “I am a twat” audibly whenever you interacted with it the Applosers would take that as having some sort of ironic cachet.

  22. Oh don’t worry. No doubt there will be some wasteful Democratic idea to provide a free government watch to millions at some point in the future.

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