Most watch lovers would agree that proudly owning a timepiece by Patek Philippe means you’ve gotten arrived within the horological massive leagues.
However, for further cachet, what if the face of the watch featured the retailer’s title — say, Tiffany & Firm — and was the colour of its signature robin’s egg blue? And, for much more, what if the mannequin had been a model of the not too long ago discontinued Ref. 5711, the metal Nautilus, one of the coveted wristwatches on the planet?
Effectively, you then would have the equal of a horological unicorn, the hypothetical worth of which could rewrite the file guide for secondhand watch gross sales.
Till right now, the posh watch world was not conscious of such a timepiece. However fantasy is to fulfill actuality later this month, when the mannequin is scheduled to be delivered to Tiffany places in New York; Beverly Hills, Calif.; and San Francisco.
Generally known as Ref. 5711/1A-018, this Nautilus can be restricted to 170 items to honor the a hundred and seventieth anniversary of Patek Philippe’s partnership with Tiffany — together with one piece that the retailer is planning to consign to Phillips for its New York watch public sale on Saturday, with proceeds benefiting The Nature Conservancy, a world environmental group.
“We’ve been working so lengthy with Tiffany,” Thierry Stern, Patek Phillipe’s president, stated on a video name in mid-November. “It’s our oldest retailer within the U.S. I grew up with Tiffany and I’m not even speaking about enterprise; it was part of my household.”
The enterprise association between the companies dates from 1851, when Tiffany grew to become the Swiss firm’s first licensed U.S. supplier. Through the years, the settlement has survived quite a few possession modifications, together with the Stern household’s buy of the watchmaker in 1932 and the $16.2 billion acquisition of Tiffany, accomplished in January, by LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton.
Mr. Stern stated he wished to sign to Tiffany that “you’ve gotten been doing an excellent job,” particularly now that the vital step of its sale to LVMH has been taken.
However, “I’m unsure it’s a present for them,” he added. “It could be an enormous downside. They could not understand how tough it’s going to be to decide on the shoppers.”
That could be the understatement of the 12 months. The frenzy that’s certain to erupt amongst longtime Patek Philippe collectors and vital Tiffany shoppers over these 170 timepieces is prone to be virtually unprecedented.
Launched in 2006, the Ref. 5711 — itself a refined model of the unique 1976 Nautilus, a stainless-steel luxurious sport watch influenced by nautical motifs and designed by the celebrated Gerald Genta — has lengthy been one of many trade’s most prized wristwatches. However across the begin of the coronavirus pandemic, costs for pre-owned items began to climb. Earlier this 12 months, when Patek Philippe introduced it was discontinuing the mannequin, the secondary market reacted by pricing it at almost 4 occasions its $34,890 retail worth.
In February, Mr. Stern stated that collectors, a few of whom had added their names to ready lists that had been eight, even 10, years lengthy, might discover hope in his resolution to provide the mannequin “a victory lap.” (Patek Philippe sells its timepieces by way of a tightly managed community of outlets world wide.)
“We can have a shock remaining sequence of the Ref. 5711,” Mr. Stern stated then. “And it isn’t what was left within the pipeline.”
That victory lap was the Ref. 5711-1A-014, a extremely sought-after olive inexperienced dial model launched in April, with the identical $34,890 worth. Three months later, one piece, nonetheless in its factory-sealed packaging, bought for 416,000 euros, or $466,625, at an Antiquorum public sale in Monaco.
“I’m assured that if a Tiffany-signed inexperienced dial surfaced, it could carry $800,000,” stated John Reardon, the founding father of Collectability, an academic platform and on-line reseller of classic Patek Philippes. (Mr. Reardon was commenting usually on retailer-signed dials, not the Tiffany Blue watch specifically.)
Double-signed watches had been comparatively in style within the twentieth century, when watchmakers, together with Patek Philippe and Rolex, honored their relationships with retailers resembling Serpico y Laino in Caracas, Venezuela; Beyer in Zurich; and Freccero & Cia. in Montevideo, Uruguay, by stamping the names on the faces of their timepieces. However the fashions weren’t all the time in demand.
“Twenty years in the past, I had numerous collectors confer with retailer signatures on a Patek Philippe dial as nothing however graffiti,” Mr. Reardon stated.
Now, he continued, collectors prize unique situation above all else. “Once you discover a wonderful dial with a retailer signature, it typically signifies the dial is unique and unrestored,” Mr. Reardon stated. “These retailer-signed Patek Philippe iconic references are thought-about benchmark trophies.”
For causes which will should do with Tiffany’s enduring relationship with Patek Philippe, Tiffany-signed items have a specific “magic” and have a tendency to go to loyal collectors somewhat than opportunists chasing a quick buck, Mr. Reardon stated. (Certainly, the corporate is the one retailer on the planet whose title continues to seem on a Patek Philippe dial.)
“Every part has a worth, however not for these collectors,” he stated. “That Tiffany signature is to them one thing sacred, one thing priceless and one thing to be saved of their households.”
The brand new mannequin can be $52,635. A spokeswoman for Patek Philippe stated the upper worth was associated to the extra work concerned in customizing and producing a small sequence.
Tiffany executives weren’t accessible to touch upon the watch. (Mr. Stern stated he had mentioned the restricted version with Alexandre Arnault, Tiffany’s govt vp of product and communications. His father, Bernard Arnault, is LVMH’s chief govt.) However it’s yet another innovation because the LVMH takeover — becoming a member of the collaboration with Supreme, the Beyoncé and Jay-Z advert marketing campaign and the home’s first-ever line of males’s engagement rings — elevating the excitement stage across the heritage model.
Mr. Stern alluded to a different element which will make the mannequin, and the retailer, much more buzzworthy: Along with a commemorative inscription on the sapphire crystal caseback that reads “a hundred and seventieth Anniversary 1851-2021 Tiffany & Co. — Patek Philippe,” the watch consists of what moviemakers and software program firms name an Easter egg.
“I’m very curious to see how lengthy it’s going to take individuals to find that there’s a secret on each piece,” Mr. Stern stated.
He paused earlier than including a remark that appeared to acknowledge what many within the watch world would possibly ask once they learn concerning the restricted version: Is Patek Philippe on the market, and can the client be Tiffany’s father or mother firm?
“It’s enjoyable; it’s not industrial,” Mr. Stern stated concerning the Easter egg. “And solely a household enterprise can try this.”