Not really. I mean you can take someone who knows nothing about cars, sit them inside a Rolls Royce and Nissan, and recognise the difference. Leather seats, smoothness of the ride, space, champagne flutes, you could probably name at least 100 differences. I don't think you can say the same between a Patek and a Rolex (correct me if I'm wrong here).
From what you're saying, it sounds like the brand is living off past glories and hype rather than anything current (e.g. innovation, etc)?
Again, just looking at this from a layman perspective. Compare the Patek to a Grand Seiko. Does an upgrade in movement and material justify a 1000% increase in price (assuming looks are subjective)?
By the way, realise we're talking about this on a fashion forum, where markup for a lot of gear is ridiculous based on branding. It's just that you hardly ever hear items of clothing being described as perfect or flawless in the same way you do with some watches.
I guess that would be a fair argument, but this sector of watches is nothing to do with innovation, innovation in watches would be quartz movements or digital watches, they rode that storm many years ago and still came out on top.
Complications are also innovative, but not new, PP, AP & VC do perpetual calendars and other grand complications, though the 3 above are the base models, but the nautilus comes in many different forms with different complications.
The difference in quality between a patek and a rolex is noticeable imo, though judgement is likely clouded by the fact that rolex is a household name and through marketing has become synonymous with luxury watches.
Rolex used off the shelf movements from other manufacturers until the 2000s and never even had a single watch with a complication until they recently launched the skydweller.
I see what youre getting at with the grand seiko and PP, but from another point of view a 7 series is made by BMW, you can spec them with reclining seats in the rear, long wheel base, fridge, champagne holder, tvs, wifi, you name it.
Rolls royce is owned by bmw and some models even use the 7 series chassis and many components are bmw parts. Specced to similar levels the rolls would be 3x the cost of the 7 series. Does an upgrade in leather or floor mats justify that cost increase?
I guess for those that can afford it they want the best of the best, doesnt matter if the value is apparent they dont want the same watch, car or trainers that most people can afford. They want rarity and exclusivity.
Edit: I dont know why this is in 7 parts but this might help explain where all the extra man hours and cost comes from compared to something like a rolex.