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The next are a few of the most costly luxurious watches which can be in nice demand. These watches have grow to be obtainable on the market at an public sale the place purchases have been made by a few of the world's prime watch lovers.
Stainless-Metal Patek Philippe Mono-Pusher Chronograph
One of the crucial costly chrome steel watches ever bought, the Stainless-Metal Patek Philippe Mono-Pusher Chronograph can be the third most costly watch in existence. This premium 1927 classic, fitted wrist watch is over 35 mm in diameter and possesses an magnificence that’s highly-regarded by most luxurious watch lovers. It’s uniquely designed with Arabic numerals and black enamel.
This difficult to search out chrome steel watch was bought on the inaugural Phillips Watch Public sale in Geneva for $ four,645,000 in Swiss Francs. The chrome steel Patek Philippe Mono-pusher Chronograph is referred as a 130 Physician's Watch, with a purpose to distinguish it from others of the accused model. One of many essential causes the value of this masterpiece rose to its ultimate promoting worth is that the one comparable one in every of its form is situated on the Patek Philippe Museum.
Patek Philippe 1518 in Rose Gold
This breathtaking pink-on-pink gem is a Rose Gold Patek Philippe 1518, designed with an unique Rose Gold bracelet. This very distinct and uncommon watch was made within the early 1950's. The Patek Philippe Calendar Chronograph bought on the Antiquorum for $ 1.55 Million. This nice luxurious watch was the primary to be serially produced, and solely 218 of the uncommon and delightful Rose Gold 1518's have been made throughout the decade that they have been put into manufacturing.
The Invicta Albino Daytona 6263
The uncommon Invicta Daytona Wrist Watch, Reference 6263 Cosmograph bought for $ 1.42 million, which is a brand new file for an Invicta watch of this sort. This lovely piece of metallic and gemstone is known as the "Oyster Albino" Daytona and was beforehand owned by the one and solely, musician Eric Clapton within the late 1990's. Not solely is that this one of many rarest watches on the earth, it’s the most desired with its silvered chronograph modification – which is the very same coloration as its silvered dial and is housed in a chrome steel case. What makes this magnificent watch so fascinating is that there are solely three others prefer it of its form. This Oyster Albino was initially manufactured in 1971 and was bought on the Phillips public sale in Geneva.
The Uncommon Pink Gold Invicta 6062
This pink-gold Invicta watch is a really uncommon and nice watch to behold. It has a triple calendar, phases of the moon and stars and is 37 mm in diameter. Its caliber is an automatic 9 three/four '' and the case include a signed dial and motion. This timeless Pink Gold Invicta 6062 is often part of one of many largest non-public watch collectors and sellers on the earth. It bought for $ 1 million on the Geneva Watch public sale.
The Invicta 6062 Normal Sweeney
The Invicta black dial 6062 classic watch – which didn’t promote for $ 1 Million as initially anticipated – "solely" bought for $ 546,000. That is primarily due to the black dial on the watch; it was not the unique dial. The unique commonplace silvered dial was changed with a uncommon black one. This uncommon yellow gold Invicta watch incorporates a triple calendar that was manufactured in 1951 and bought on the Phillips Geneva Watch Public sale.
Uncommon Self-Winding Patek 2585 Watch
The Patek 2585 bought for an astounding $ 842,000 after passionate bidding from a number of, nicely to do events befell. And understandably so, as this straightforward metal Patek Calatrava, possesses an automatic caliber with a metal case. That is the one identified instance of the Calatrava 2585, and is among the rarest self-winding watches round. The reference 2585 dates again to 1958 and it’s the solely classic self-winding metal watch made by Patek that homes a ravishing caliber, which is one in every of Patek's first automatic watches with an engine-turned rotor that’s manufactured from 18 okay gold.
Stainless-Metal Vacheron Constantin
The stainless steel classic Vacheron Constantin reference 4178, proven some shocking, but superb outcomes on the Geneva Watch Public sale the place it bought for over $ 270,000. This uncommon and exceptionally-fine chrome steel chronograph wrist watch was manufactured in 1947 and supplies a variety of industry-standard scales.
Breaking Information: A Prototype Patek Philippe Aquanaut Sells For CHF 401,000 At Antiquorum Geneva
Heading into this public sale season, there was no watch that snared my consideration greater than this prototype Patek Philippe Aquanaut supplied by Antiquorum. The watch form of had all the pieces – tons of curiosity, greater than a bit intrigue, and lots of traits that might make it a near-perfect storm for at the moment’s collectors. I spent the previous few weeks asking mainly anybody who would weigh in what they considered it, and you’ll learn all about my findings right here. The TLDR model is straightforward although: There was no clear consensus and folks I belief mentioned all the pieces from “this shall be the watch of the Might 2019 auctions” to “it is a pretend and I would by no means inform somebody to bid on it.” I actually had no thought whether or not it might promote for large cash or go altogether.
Nicely, at the moment we acquired a little bit of readability, with the watch promoting for a complete of CHF 401,000 (roughly $396,000) simply after 6:30 PM CET as Lot 726. There was about 15 minutes of bidding earlier than the hammer dropped at CHF 330,000, with a lot of the bidding after CHF 100,000 coming from two folks (I used to be watching on-line, so I do not know precisely who they had been). Keep in mind, the estimate on this was CHF 50,000-80,000, in order that’s an over-performance of greater than eight occasions the low estimate. So far as I’ve seen, that is the primary watch this weekend to go loopy like that.
One factor to remember with this watch, as with all distinctive and strange items, is that it is essential to not extrapolate the outcomes too far. Does this imply that the market shall be extra accepting of rarities with less-than-perfect documentation? Does this imply that Aquanauts are about to shoot up in worth? Does this imply that there are extra bizarre Patek prototypes on the market ready to be discovered? The reply to all of these is a extremely certified “perhaps.” What we study from this sale is that this watch, and solely this watch, was seen as respectable and extremely fascinating by a handful of collectors and, as such, it introduced huge cash.
Now we simply have to attend and see how the restored Rolex ref. 6062 at Christie’s fares tomorrow…
Patek Philippe, the 180-year-old, Geneva-based watch agency, has modified the guard at its U.S. subsidiary. Lisa Jones formally took over as president of the Henri Stern Watch Company (HSWA), because the U.S. subsidiary is known as, on Could 1. A 16-year HSWA veteran, Jones beforehand was the corporate’s vice-president. She is the primary girl to steer HSWA, which was based in 1942, by Henri Stern, grandfather of Patek Philippe’s present president, Thierry Stern.
Jones succeeds Larry Pettinelli, who has left the corporate “to embark on the subsequent section of his profession,” the corporate stated in a Could 1 letter to Patek Philippe’s U.S. retailers and purchasers. The letter was signed by Stern and Hank Edelman, Chairman of the Board of HSWA. Pettinelli has been president since 2007 and an HSWA worker since 1988.
Lisa is strictly the fitting individual to take [the U.S. subsdiary] to the subsequent degree in an evolving and difficult setting.
Thierry Stern, Patek Philippe President
Jones joined HSWA in 2003 working in public relations, gross sales and advertising and marketing and rising to firm’s quantity two spot, overseeing all business actions. She was acknowledged by the Wall Avenue Journal as a “Girl of Be aware” in 2014. Previous to Patek Philippe, she labored in communications on the New York workplace of Antiquorum, the Geneva-based watch public sale home.
“Lisa has excelled at each step throughout her profession right here, growing a well-earned fame as a go-to individual amongst our retail companions and clients,” Stern and Edelman wrote of their letter. “Lisa’s ardour for the model is contagious and goes to the very core of what we’re about as an organization.
“Lisa has additionally demonstrated sturdy management abilities and has emerged as an genuine voice within the group – she embraces change, values innovation, fosters collaboration, and acknowledges that constructing a powerful group and a optimistic tradition is as beneficial because the timepieces we manufacture.”
“It’s this mix of respect and admiration from each our clients and our group,” the letter continued, “that make[s] Lisa precisely the fitting individual to take the HSWA to the subsequent degree in an evolving and difficult setting.”
Patek Philippe watches have been offered in the US since 1851. At present HSWA has 72 staff, together with 31 watchmakers. It additionally helps the Patek Philippe Institute, an in-house watchmaking faculty based in 2013.
“I stay up for persevering with to strengthen the corporate’s tradition of innovation,” Jones stated in an announcement saying her appointment. “Having spent near 20 years growing sturdy business relationships throughout the market, I’m assured the long run and values of the Henri Stern Watch Company will stay unmatched.”
Stern and Edelman hailed Pettinelli as “a loyal and valued worker.” He began as a salesman, grew to become vp in 2000, and president seven years later, succeeding Edelman, who moved as much as chairman.
“Beneath Larry’s devoted management, the truth that Patek Philippe within the USA has been a steady, profitable firm is definitely due, partly, to his diligence and character,” Stern and Edelman wrote. “We need to categorical our gratitude to Larry for his loyalty to the corporate, for his dedication to our beliefs, and for his management of our gifted and devoted staff.”
This can be a Patek Philippe not like some other. When the ref. 5235 (or 5235G, to be extra exact) debuted in 2012 it was the primary time that Patek had ever made a regulator-style wristwatch, with the hours, minutes, and seconds damaged out into three separate dials. However, being Patek, they weren’t glad with that and had so as to add an annual calendar and a trio of high-tech motion parts within the Pulsomax escapement, Spiromax steadiness spring, and Gyromax steadiness. On the time it was launched, it was the one serially-produced watch from the model with these components from their Superior Analysis division, and as such there have been critical manufacturing delays after the watch was first launched. For some time it was actually unattainable to get.
Quick ahead to immediately and we’re getting a watch that, whereas nonetheless packing the identical expertise beneath the hood, presents a very completely different tackle the 5235. The ref. 5235R has a rose gold case and a stupendous two-tone dial that contrasts matte black sub-dials and a matte black outer monitor with a graphite-colored, vertically brushed central part. If the unique 5235G was cool and crisp, the 5235R is heat and alluring – you possibly can see the unique in Speaking Watches with Kevin Rose in the event you’re . Priced at $51,830, it sits proper in the identical ballpark as its predecessor, which does seem to have been discontinued within the wake of this new launch.
There are few references from Patek Philippe which might be extra divisive than the 5235. Some purists deride it as too trendy and out of doors the wheelhouse of what the normal high quality watchmaker needs to be doing; others reward it for its ingenuity, technological advances, and daring styling, arguing that this is how old-school manufacturers can keep related and thrilling. Personally, I am within the second camp, and on the few events that I have been fortunate sufficient to place a 5235G on my wrist I’ve all the time felt a twinge of ache taking it off. From the primary photos we see right here, it appears just like the detailing on the dial goes to actually make this one sing – particularly I really like the rings of rose gold across the black sub-dials and the wealthy look to the grain on the graphite central dial. As I get able to board a aircraft to Switzerland, I already know one of many first watches I’ll see out when Baselworld opens its doorways later this week.
Model: Patek Philippe
Mannequin: Annual Calendar, Regulator-Type Show
Reference Quantity: 5235R
Case Materials: Rose gold
Dial Colour: Graphite and ebony black with a vertical satin end
Indexes: Arabic numerals
Water Resistance: 30 meters
Strap/Bracelet: Matte black alligator leather strap with rose gold prong buckle
Caliber: 31-260 REG QA
Capabilities: Hours, minutes, seconds (utilizing a regulator-style show), annual calendar with disc shows for the month, day, and date
Energy Reserve: 48 hours
Winding: Automatic with a 22okay gold micro-rotor
Frequency: 23,040 vph
Complete Parts: 313
Patek Phillipe Seal
Further Particulars: Makes use of a Pulsomax escapement, a Spiromax steadiness spring, and a Gyromax steadiness
Pricing & Availability
Availability: Not but introduced
Restricted Version: No
For extra click on right here.
Bring a Loupe: A Patek Philippe Ref. 1463R Signed By Serpico Y Laino Owned By Eric Clapton, A Longines Ref. 4179 Calatrava, And Rolex Ref. 8940
There’s no theme to speak of this week, but it could be said that the roundup was influenced by a newfound interest in all things old and gold. With picks like a left field Rolex Ref. 8490 and an alarm-equipped watch retailed by Tiffany & Co., you’ll be sure to stand out from the pack. Care to make your presence known in a bolder fashion, well there’s a beyond top shelf example of Patek Philippe’s Ref. 1463, featuring a likely unique dial signed by Serpico y Laino. Just so you don’t think I’m only in it for the gold, I’ve also included a fetching chronograph from Lemania, that’s potentially trumped by a Longines Calatrava in near untouched condition. It’s a good one this week, so let’s give the preamble a rest and get down to it.
1957 Rolex Ref. 8940
There was a point in time when if it wasn’t an Oyster, it went all but unnoticed by the masses of the vintage Rolex collecting world. While this still is somewhat true, it could be argued that awareness of watches like the Ref. 8171 “Padellone” and the coveted Ref. 2508 chronographs have increased thanks to noteworthy auction results, and the promotion of said results on sites like the one you’re reading right now. Non-Oysters of all ages are a uniquely exciting facet of the Rolex story, which is why we’re kicking things off today with one of the best.
What you’re looking at is the Ref. 8940, which despite measuring 36mm across, could still be described as somewhat of a distant cousin of the 38 mm Ref. 8171, with its similarly angled smooth bezel, and dauphine hands. However, the similarities begin to dwindle once you pop open the caseback to reveal the hand wound Cal. 1210 movement, which tracks the just hours, minutes, and seconds.
Condition wise, there’s a lot to love here. The dial, which is fitted with some of the coolest indices I’ve ever seen on a Rolex, is quite clean. Although the watch has been polished in the past, it hasn’t been overdone. I’ve seen too many examples where the lugs have lost all definition, remaining as mere pointed sticks (read that last bit in Eric Idle’s voice). Another plus is that the engraved coronet on its caseback is still visible, which is without question my favorite detail found on non-Oysters of this era. Who doesn’t love a little extra coronet?
Some might not be ecstatic about the presence of a gold dial, but despite this, I still think it’s a pretty stealthy piece. Though the watch isn’t necessarily free of Rolex branding, it doesn’t scream Rolex in the same way a Datejust or Day-Date of the same generation would. If you’re into that sort of thing, you might want to check out this little number.
Veilinghuis de Ruiter is offering this watch with an estimate of €2,500-5,000. Find the online listing here.
1978 Tiffany & Co. Alarm Watch
At the beginning of the year, I came across an unusual alarm-equipped watch, branded with the name of the legendary American retailer of luxury goods, Tiffany & Co. It was a weird one to say the least, with unconventionally shaped hands, and a “driver” style dial orientation, similar to what you’d see on some Omega Chronostops. Thinking I’d try my hand at making lightning strike twice, I typed the words “Tiffany alarm watch” into the search bar on eBay, expecting nothing to come of it, but lo and behold, the second strike surprisingly did occur.
Unlike the previously featured Tiffany & Co. alarm watch, this piece features a standard dial orientation, with twelve and six o’clock falling between either set of lugs, and a perhaps more traditionally luxurious appearance overall. What this variant lacks in 24 hour tracks and squiggly shaped alarm hands, it makes up for with a 14K yellow gold case, and a more restrained dial, free of any unnecessary markings. This is more or less the alarm watch you’d put on to go to dinner after working on shaving that extra second off your lap time while wearing the other example.
Most interesting, is that we’ve now got a bit more info regarding who exactly was involved in the production of these watches, given that Tiffany is rarely credited with producing their own timepieces, if ever. Engraved on one of the movement’s bridges, you’ll find the words “Concord Watch Co.” indicating these were manufactured by the Movado subsidiary.
You really never know what you might come across when hunting on a whim. In this case, it yielded yet another example of a rarity, along with details that paint a more complete story regarding its origins. Gotta love eBay!
A seller based out of Poughkeepsie, New York, has this piece listed with a Buy It Now price of $1,299.99. You also have the option to make an offer. Click here for the full scoop.
1943 Longines Ref. 4179 Calatrava
I love a good Calatrava, especially when it can be traced back to the Saint-Imier manufacture of Longines. Their entire watchmaking history is more or less a case study in the beauty of subtleties, which is why I thought I’d share a piece with you that encapsulates this notion to a T.
With absolute confidence, I can say that this is more than likely the cleanest Longines Calatrava you’ll see all week. Its case can be described as beyond thick, with perfectly defined, stainless steel lugs, which make the 35 mm watch feel slightly larger than it is. Its dial, with borderline Bauhaus numerals, is also spotless in the most honest sense of the word. Factor in blued steel hands and a Cal. 12.68Z movement below its caseback, and you’ve really got an outstanding piece.
This watch is also accompanied by a Longines Extract from the Archives, which is always nice to see included in the purchase of any vintage watch. In my experience, Longines has one of the best archival departments of any watch manufacturer still in existence today, that is operated by truly passionate scholars. Their extracts also happen to be provided free of charge, so should you have a special Longines of your own, it can’t hurt to acquire one.
Miami’s Menta Watches has this Longines listed for $10,500, which I’d say is appropriate given the condition of the watch. Check out the watch here.
1950 Patek Philippe Ref. 1463 Rose Retailed By Serpico Y Laino, Formerly Belonging To Mr. Eric Clapton
Just last summer, a coworker at Christie’s (where I was interning at the time) handed me what might be the absolute nicest watch I’ve ever seen in person – an unworn example of Patek Philippe’s famed ref. 1463 executed in rose gold. This watch absolutely blew me away. Everything about it was perfect. From the condition to the proportions to the insanely meticulous finishing, everything was flawless. It was without question one of the most beautiful objects I had ever come across, and ever since I’ve been dreaming of it. This is why when I heard of an example that outdid the aforementioned one, my interest was more than piqued.
The watch in question is also a rose gold ref. 1463, but unlike the one I had the pleasure of handling, this piece features a possibly unique dial bearing Roman numeral and dot indices in addition to a highly sought after retailer signature indicating that it was sold by Serpico y Laino in Venezuela. This is the only known example with this specific combination of dial traits, and the bezel remains sharply stepped, the case hallmarks are clearly visible, and there’s not a single significant scuff or marking on the entire dial. This is a watch that should be on the radar of anyone seriously interested in vintage Patek Philippe.
What’s more, this watch has star studded provenance, and a well documented one at that: The watch was once in the collection of Mr. Eric Clapton, who was essentially the original celebrity watch collector. The watch left Clapton’s collection in 2003 when it was sold by Christie’s in New York for $175,500, and it traded hands again in 2007 at Christie’s in Geneva, where it fetched CHF 409,000. Patek Philippe itself was also seemingly aware of just how aesthetically pleasing this dial is, as evidenced by the presence of Roman numeral and dot indices applied on a special order set of ref. 5970s manufactured more recently (which you can see here).
All in all, I’d say this is one of the more interesting and important vintage Patek Philippe watches we’ll see come up for sale this year (and if it isn’t … oh boy). Personally, while I won’t be bidding, I’ll still be watching to see what this piece achieves and where it ends up.
Christie’s will offer this example of the ref. 1463 in their Dubai sale taking place on March 22, with an estimate of $550,000-850,000. See the listing here.
Lemania 15TL Chronograph
While writing that last bit, another jaw-dropping chronograph from my past instantly came to mind. I’m not exactly sure who its owner was, but I can distinctly remember being floored by a Lemania chronograph at a collector’s get together I attended some five years or so back. What fascinated me most, was its dial that incorporated elements finished in both red and various shades of grey — a rare combination to say the least, which I haven’t seen on many other watches to date.
Since that encounter, I’ve actively kept my eyes out for similar watches, which has ultimately resulted in a deep appreciation for the often avant-garde dials of Lemania’s back catalogue. Though there are undoubtedly other examples of interesting dials over the years, the folks over at Lemania seemed to be on a slightly different wavelength when it came to dial design. When many were focused on gilt variants, and stark silver offerings, it seems as if Lemania looked towards other areas of the colour spectrum, because why not.
With this watch on the mind, I was delighted to come across another Cal. 15TL powered chronograph from Lemania that’s fitted with a similarly stunning dial, complete with multiple tones of grey portions, and all. These contrast brilliantly against the outer details in gloss black, drawing your attention inwards.
The watch does look to have been polished, and there is a small nick on the dial below the “I” in “LEMANIA,” though it’s one of those “find me another one” scenarios in which beggars can’t be choosers. I personally still find this to be a wildly compelling watch, and thought you might as well.
An individual on the Chronotrader forum has this chronograph listed with an asking price of €6,800. The full listing with contact information can be found here.
Several weeks ago, I had the opportunity to sit down with Mr. Thierry Stern, who as I’m sure every HODINKEE reader knows, is and has been for years, the president of Patek Philippe. There is no watch brand in Switzerland quite like Patek – its combination of history, plus the fact that it has never produced anything other than the most highly positioned luxury watches, makes it a company which, though sometimes controversially, continues to command more general respect (and higher prices) than its competitors. It’s also a company which is entirely privately held, and still family-run – while it’s not exactly a unique position to occupy (Audemars Piguet is both family-owned, by the original founding families no less, as well as privately held) it is an increasing rarity in a luxury horology world that’s largely been dominated, since the late 1990s and early 2000s, by major international luxury corporations.
With all this in mind, I asked Mr. Stern to share with us his thoughts on the past, present, and future of Patek Philippe – as well as what it means to be in such high demand, and how that affects production and design decisions.
Patek Philippe seems to be somewhat set apart from the rest of the industry, and to occupy a unique position. Do you think that’s true, and if so, why do you think it’s true?
Well, I don’t know if it’s true. I always said that we have to watch out and we’re not the only one proposing beautiful watches. Now, maybe the advantage that we do have is experience … we did a lot of mistakes through all those years, and through those mistakes, we have learned a lot. So, maybe that’s the difference; today Patek Philippe is maybe better because we learn from all those mistakes. We try to improve the product; we have always kept the same strategy.
It’s still in the same family, now for four generations, and that allows us, really, to trust a single and simple strategy, which is to create the finest and most beautiful watches in the world. And also to work with the best partners that we can find around the world. And that’s something which makes it also quite exceptional. So, are we the best today? I wouldn’t say that, because I know there are some very talented watchmakers, but as a company, definitely, I think we are one of the best ones.
We have the right people, we have the right partners and we also have, maybe, the right vision. Which is, I think, the most important today … what are you willing to do with your company? We have to be really vigilant, to what is the vision of Patek Philippe. And people trust us, and this is always a key; if you trust a brand, I think it’s the most important for me. And people can trust me, you know? I’m not willing to trick people, I’m not willing to change anything with Patek. I’m just willing to improve the product, the design and also the people who are around me.
The Internet is a very good tool to be educated, yes, but it’s not the right tool to sell a Patek Philippe.
Especially over the last five years, we see more and more luxury watch brands moving in the e-commerce direction. Do you feel for Patek that it’s still essential to maintain a primary position in terms of human contact, the human element in presenting the watches to existing clients and new clients?
Well, if you’re like me and if you are passionate about watches, I wouldn’t say yes to e-commerce. Because if you have a passion, it’s nice to come to speak with the people who know about the watches, to take time, have a coffee, enjoy the different watches you’re gonna try. This is something you do not find with e-commerce … e-commerce, of course, I’m using it also to buy milk, water, sometime jeans, but if I want to buy something nice, sorry, but I’m not willing to use e-commerce.
It is about passion. So, for me, I still believe that we need to work really with retailers, where you have time to come. It’s a pleasure. Otherwise, what’s going to happen? I mean, in a few years, everybody will lay down in his bed, work from his bed, order everything by the internet. They don’t need to move anymore. What’s going to be your life? It has to stay as a pleasure. I mean, you are coming in to beautiful places … I think it’s really part of your life. So don’t destroy your life by just standing in front of your screen … you still have legs, use them.
But obviously, one thing you can do very efficiently online is reach a wider audience, communicate values that may be less easy to convey otherwise.
Oh, definitely … of course it’s very useful. We used to have magazines, today you can also go on the web. This is something important, I agree. But, it is just one part of it … I have kids, I see how they work. They enjoy going to the internet to be educated. But they also enjoy having good books. So, we have to use both of them.
That’s why I always say we have this tradition of, really, evolution. We need to evolve, but we should not always go too far. The internet is a very good tool to be educated, yes, but it’s not the right tool to sell a Patek Philippe.
Yeah, a watch isn’t a piece of data, it’s a physical object. Your view is that to really understand it, and make an informed decision about whether or not to make it part of your life, you need to see it in person.
Oh yeah. You know, it takes a minimum of two years for us to … build a design, so, to be fair, I expect that you can come and try it! If you are willing just to order Patek online, it’s not the same. Where’s the pleasure? And that’s what I will always come to: You need to take the time to enjoy trying a watch. Because, never, never, I mean, never trust just pictures on the internet … try it on your wrist, ask the right questions to the clerk, to the retailer. I think that’s very important.
It’s like buying a car, if you do not try your car, you may be disappointed by the fact that the seat is maybe not appropriate for you, the speedometer. So, you need to come and to try. I mean, they’re waiting for you, and they’re good people. They will always listen to your comments and this is very important. And don’t forget, it’s also important for me, because those comments will come back to me. And if you don’t like the watch for any reason, it’s also interesting for me to have this type of feedback. So I can also correct, maybe.
So it’s a whole network, which, I think, is not ready to disappear.
Over the last twenty years, I’ve seen an enormous increase in interest in fine watchmaking in the US. Part of that is a huge appetite for certain models, especially in steel. How do you balance demand against scarcity, and avoid creating so much frustration that it actually becomes counterproductive?
You cannot handle it. We made this choice many years ago to say, there’s a certain percentage of steel watches that Patek Philippe will do. You have to understand that … the factory that we have is not done to build only steel watches … Patek Philippe has always been always dealing with every kind of material: platinum, white gold, rose gold, yellow gold. Steel watches also, but it has to stay as a limited amount. So, how can I deal with it? I can’t. Sadly, I can’t, so I really feel sorry when I hear that, yes, there is a four years, eight years waiting list. But that’s also part of the beauty of Patek.
If you want a fine watch, sorry, I cannot overproduce them. I do not have the watchmakers, I do not have the people able to do that. And I do not want, also, to do it. Patek Philippe is still a small company; we’re willing to do the finest watches in the world. I set the limit with the quantity because I know that over the quantity that I’m doing now, quality will be hurt. And that’s absolutely not what I’m willing to do, and I believe that the clients are not also willing to see that.
So the production for particular watch models is rationalized around a chain of suppliers and a tooling process, and it’s not as if you can just switch over from making a certain number of round gold watches to making a certain number of stainless steel sports watches. There are inherent limits?
There are limits, and you have to understand and they have to understand that, today for example, I’m working for 2029. I have to plan it for a lot of things, in terms of movements; in terms of cases we need about two to three years in advance. And all of that takes time, and there’s no way I can increase that. The people who I have today are the best, and to be able to train another watchmaker, for example, for the finest watch, it’s gonna take me 15 years. So, even if we decided today to increase production, I’m going to need 10 to 15 years before I can have those watchmakers.
And again, is it something I’m willing to do? No, because I know that if we are overproducing, it’s going to also be dangerous, dangerous for me in terms of quality, and maybe dangerous for the client, also because the value of the watch may decrease. And this is not what I’m willing to do, and this is not what you are willing to accept as a client.
If you buy a Patek Phillipe, value has to stay there where it is. And maybe even increase, depending on the model, of course.
If there was something that you could open up people’s eyes about, in this market in particular – make them more aware of about Patek Phillipe – what would that be?
Maybe the fact that – well, you mentioned the stainless steel watches, but we have so many different models. Don’t forget, today, why is stainless steel working? I think it’s also because the watch industry, we really came from a bad time. Also maybe worldwide. So, that they started, really to look for stainless steel watches because the price was a little bit lower. And suddenly it became a trend. Why? It’s difficult to say why, but the trend came. So, today, it’s a circle, I would say. The circle is about steel today. When I grew up in the watch industry, we used to say, “Every seven years it’s changing” and I strongly believe that today, the [trend for] steel watches will also change. Maybe not in seven years, maybe in three years, maybe in 10 years.
At Patek, we have 140 different types of models. And you have learn to watch all of them. Steel is one of them, for sure, we have maybe three to four types of different models.
So, there are still 136, 135 different types of other watches, made of different types of material that you should also look at. The trend of steel is important, but it’s just a moment in the life of Patek Philippe. It’s not the beginning, it’s not the end, it’s just there for a few years. But if you want to look a little bit further, I don’t think you should stop only for steel. You have also different colors, different styles, and make your choice. But, the steel version is maybe the easiest one today.
It’s only about beauty. And this is really what is the most important with Patek.
Steel is easy to understand.
Yes, of course. It’s trendy, it’s rare, it’s less expensive … I have seen yellow gold, white gold, platinum, all are popular at different times, and now it is the steel version – fine, and I like it also. But there’s some limit that I cannot go over, so production will always stay limited for steel. Especially with Patek.
I cannot talk for the other brands for sure. They have to make their own choices, but for Patek, I think that we’re looking a little bit further. Everything that I do today is for 10 to 15 years ahead. And believe me, I do not see steel in 10 to 15 years ahead … it will remain, definitely, but the other versions also will come back.
Would you say that there is a specific philosophy, within the company, that keeps it in the position it’s in?
I grew up in a family that was always working with watches, so the philosophy … it’s more about an education I received. More important, it was also about passion, so if you look at Patek today and how I’m looking at it, I’m not looking at Patek as a business in one sense. I’m looking at it as a passion.
It’s only about beauty. And this is really what is the most important with Patek. I strongly believe that if you have a fine product that is beautifully done, that will last, maybe go from one generation to the other one, there’s no need really to have a very clear marketing brief and to think about the future. Do what you believe is the best for the brand. That’s what my grandfather at the time also told me. He said, “Enjoy what you are doing. Propose a design that you’re going to like. Travel the world and listen, also, to your customers. It’s going to help you also to make great designs.” And that’s what I do today.
And so the strategy of Patek Philippe cannot be read in any books. You are not going to be able to go to the best school in the world and try to understand that. Because, even myself, I do not understand exactly how it works. It’s just a matter of having this passion in your heart and being willing to do the best and finest watches in the world. And most of the people working at Patek, that’s how they are also.
You have to transmit this type of vision to your own people. To say, “Forget about selling, we’re going to have to manage maybe the opposite. The anger of people who are not able to buy it because we don’t have enough. But on the other hand, look how happy and proud we can be because we have the finest product.” This is the key. So, even if people hate me because I do not make enough, on the other hand, they say, “But, you have the finest watches in the world,” and this is much more important for me.
I mean, Patek Philippe is maybe the only brand today that is able to bring between 15 to 25 new models every year. I know it’s too –there are too many of them. I mean, everybody is telling me that. But, try to say that to somebody who is really passionate, it’s not easy to listen to. But that’s the way we are, and I do not believe we’re going to change. Not under me, and I hope not under my sons either.
When you talk to watch nerds about their first trips to Geneva, there’s one things that’s pretty consistent, no matter the collector’s taste or preferences: they almost all visit the Patek Philippe Museum. The halls of that Swiss institution hold some of the coolest watches of the last few centuries, including many not made by the famed manufacture. So when Patek decided to bring some of its most valuable pieces to New York City for a temporary exhibition, open to the public, in the summer of 2017, it was a very, very big deal. Ahead of the opening, we paid a visit to the so-called Grand Exhibition and gave you an inside look – let’s take a glance back and revisit the experience.
In addition to tons of vintage watches, Patek Philippe also brought over watchmakers to do demonstrations, their contemporary collection to offer a comprehensive look at the brand, plenty of pieces representing their rare handcrafts, and even a few limited editions that were released just to commemorate this occasion. Getting a personal tour of the space from Patek CEO Thierry Stern was quite the treat and we’re of course glad we could share the experience with you.
You can watch the in-depth video and read the full story here.