If there is one thing I have learned over the years, it’s that the word “luxury” has been battered around by marketers so much that it’s been watered down, and has lost its true meaning. But perhaps chasing “meaning” just gets you running in circles. Because “luxury” means different things to different people.
For some it could mean an expensive watch, or a fast Italian sports car. For others it might be neither one of those. It could instead be time well spent with loved ones, it could be philanthropy, or something as simple as a fine glass of wine, staring out at a sunset. Our friends at Chrono24 set out to find out, and embarked on a social media survey to try to get to the heart of what true luxury is.
Chrono24 survey: Defining what luxury means
“Luxury” might mean something more for people who appreciate craftsmanship, brands that are more refined, with a long history. Craftsmanship is luxury at its core. Or as I said, it goes beyond what is material.
It certainly goes beyond conspicuous consumption, those empty-vessel types showing off their bling. There’s a great line from the first season of HBO’s Succession, when Tom is having dinner with Cousin Greg, and Tom attempts to explain to an impressionable Greg what being “rich” means:
“Here’s the thing about being rich. It’s f***ing great. It’s like being a superhero, only better. You get to do what you want. The authorities can’t really touch you. You get to wear a costume, but it’s designed by Armani.”
Okay, so maybe that quote has much more to do with a wonderfully written piece of satire on the wealthy class, but Tom isn’t that far off. Indulgence doesn’t have to be something that vacuous, like Tom’s take. It could be someone buying a fine watch or car, for which luxury isn’t a lifestyle. It means treating oneself on occasion. It’s more a reward, for hard work perhaps, so it’s more meaningful for the individual.
Watches, for example, are considered luxury because the finest materials they’re made with, combined with the most advanced technology and precision engineering of the movement. With their quality and craftsmanship, and the history of some of the brands, they are also prized for their exclusivity. There’s a passion that’s in the foreground for watch buyers. Owning a luxury watch is a way of signalling to the world that you have achieved a certain level of success and sophistication, and that you appreciate the finer things in life
Defining luxury: Experiences
“Luxury” can also be about experiences. That’s another thing we take out of the Chrono24 survey. Luxury travel, for example, is all about experiencing the best that the world has to offer, from staying in five-star hotels to dining in Michelin-starred restaurants to exploring exotic destinations.
There’s nothing wrong with being pampered and cared for, about you feeling like you are living your best life. Luxury experiences can also include things like spa treatments, private tours, and personalized services that are tailored to your specific needs and desires.
Luxury watches: Quality, craftsmanship, and prized for their exclusivity
And what about altruism, those seeking something deeper? There are people who want to enjoy a luxury lifestyle but with a clear conscience. This is more prevalent among Millennials and Gen Z, especially as it relates to sustainability and what’s best for the environment. But it also means giving your money to worthwhile causes, via philanthropy.
An extension of that is luxury that’s part of a personal metamorphosis, or transformation. It could be a means of self expression, being creative. This isn’t for the conspicuous consumption crowd either. Adventure is included here, arts and culture, even health and wellness.
Defining luxury: The right perspective
Luxury can be off-putting to some, since for some it leads to a sense of superiority and entitlement (back to Succession‘s Tom Wambsgans for a second). It can appear to be frivolous and unnecessary during a time where so many people are struggling to meet basic needs
Despite these potential downsides, however, I believe that luxury has an important role to play in our lives. By allowing us to indulge in the finer things in life, luxury can help us to feel more fulfilled, more content, and more grateful for what we have. It can also inspire us to work harder and to strive for greater success, as we seek to attain the things that we desire most.
In the end, defining luxury is a complex and multifaceted concept that means different things to different people. It is about quality, exclusivity, and the pursuit of excellence. It is about indulging in the best that life has to offer. But it’s about remaining grounded in the knowledge that true happiness comes not from what we own, but from who we are and the relationships that we form with others.
Top image: Rolex Perpetual Cosmograph Daytona