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Unboxing - The content of containers

Unboxing The content of containers

One of the least well-known aspects of watches is the boxes they come in. Happily, there are plenty of “unboxing” videos on Instagram to keep us informed about this secondary but highly revealing aspect.

Instagram is full of videos of anonymous gloved hands ceremoniously opening up a watch box. What’s most striking is not the reverential way in which the task is accomplished, although there are probably brain surgeons who take less care when opening up a skull. What’s incredible is that, because of these videos, the general public can at long last see what watch boxes look like!

The content of containers

A high-end box from Bell & Ross

Think about it. Apart from watches you’ve bought yourself, have you ever seen how watch brands package their products for sale? Do you know which ones come in a black lacquered case? Or which use precious woods, or leather? Do you know what colour they are? Which offer something different from a cube with an embossed logo? Do the boxes change depending on the price range? To answer all these questions, you merely have to browse through the hundreds of private accounts whose owners reveal their watch purchases. Or those of retailers who promote their wares by pushing the suspense angle: will there be something inside the box, or will they prank you with an empty box? Will there be a rattle snake inside, or some candy? Or a stack of 100 dollar bills, as we see so often on Instagram?

The content of containers

The case of the Bovet Grand Récital

Even though I see hundreds of watches each year, I must say I had virtually no idea about this hidden facet of the watch world. Some watchmakers have rather particular boxing policies. Minute repeaters are often delivered with a special sound box made of resonant hardwood: a cone for Cartier, a piano for Audemars Piguet and a writing desk for Chopard. Others create presentation cases to go with the theme of the special series they contain, such as cigar-themed timepieces whose case doubles up as a humidor. Some diving watches are delivered in a special watertight container, like the Oris Explorer cases. But apart from that, you generally have to be a client or a retailer to know more.

The content of containers

The case of the IWC Siderale Scafusia with integral manual winding system

Collectors will often agree that these containers are useless for anything other than collecting dust in a cupboard. But the brands continue on the assumption that a watch delivered in a leather case will be stored in that leather case, when in fact that’s rarely true. Starting from when the watch is bought, clients are often advised not to carry their purchase in a big, obvious bag, but rather to wear it, or put it in their pocket, to reduce the risk of theft. Back home, watches are kept in far more banal places (in a drawer, on a shelf), in a watch roll or travel case, a case designed to hold several timepieces, like those made by Scatola del Tempo, or a multi-watch winder from RDI, for instance. 

Le contenant du contenu

L'incroyable écrin compartimenté réversible de la Patek Philippe Grandmaster Chime

So we shouldn’t really complain when our watch is delivered in a less than fabulous box, or one rather less sophisticated than the product it contains. Sometimes it’s an oversight. But it may also be a pragmatic admission of their irrelevance. And a recognition that what you’re paying for is a watch, not pointless accessories.

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Audemars Piguet is one of the few independent family-owned watch businesses and has been based in Le Brassus, in Switzerland's Vallée de Joux region, at the heart of the fine watchmaking industry,...

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For Bell & Ross, each detail has a specific meaning and function: functionality is key, and minimalism – dispensing with superfluous ornamental details in favour of essential aspects – is vital.

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The Bovet Manufacture upholds the tradition of decorative arts applied to its delicately engraved, chased, enamelled, engine-turned or hand-painted cases, dials and movements, thus passing on the...

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Characterised by audacity and inventiveness, Cartier’s watchmaking history reflects a unique state of mind: “jeweller of kings and king of jewellers”. Its renown is bound up in the tradition of...

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Maison Chopard epitomises the alliance between watchmaking and jewellery. It has always known how to meet the expectations of its day, relying on four essential values: expertise, tradition,...

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With a clear emphasis on technology and development, IWC Schaffhausen has been manufacturing timepieces of lasting value since 1868. Its philosophy, based on a passion for watchmaking, aims to...

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Patek Philippe enjoys outstanding renown and rare prestige, due to the constancy with which the Manufacture has applied its philosophy of excellence ever since it was founded.

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A family firm based in Switzerland, RDI is active in the watch accessory business, notably producing high-quality winders for mechanical watches.

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The Italian brand that is striving for perfection with its watch cases and watch winders.

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