“You never actually own a Patek Philippe. You merely look after it for the next generation”
After being blessed with the opportunity to purchase an Aquanaut, I felt extremely fortunate to be able to acquire such a sought after piece. Of course, purchasing one does not make me its rightful owner because “owning” a Patek Philippe is a loose term in the brand’s mantra. And if I will never “own” the watch, then I suppose I’ll be taking care of it, renting it, transitioning it in the best condition possible for its successor. And of course its successor will never “own” it either and on and on the story goes. This is analogous to a divergent infinite series and if the mantra holds true then no one will ever own the watch.
Luckily though, I don’t need to resolve this ownership issue because my second son has already laid claim to it and I am relieved he has assumed the Patek Philippe legacy and will defer my decision for at least another generation. On a side note, he really wanted the Only Watch Grandmaster Chime, with double digit complications, but the probability of Daddy ever affording one of those pieces. let alone obtaining one is naut out of infinity.
THE EYE OPENER: HOW THE PATEK PHILIPPE AFFECTED ME
When I first purchased the Aquanaut, after the initial euphoria had set in, I really examined the watch with a loupe. Remember, I was a Rolex guy and had researched basically all their models and was super familiar with their supercase, their movements, accuracy, metallurgy, dimensions and weight of their watches. What I wasn’t familiar with was their level of craftsmanship compared to other brands. So when I examined the Aquanaut, it was a revelation into the Patek Philippe level of craftsmanship, particularly their exquisite metallurgical polishing finish (yes I’m very superficial). It was obvious that Patek had spent more resources in their polishing, their design process, their etching and engraving in both the external appearance and visible internal mechanism. Nothing against Rolex, for their level of craftsmanship far exceeds expectations at their price point and mass production. But Patek really opened my eyes to haute horlogerie. Not that I would know much about this term or its definition, but I do appreciate that it may mean the finest standard of craftsmanship and workmanship devoted to watchmaking. While Rolex is a great tool watch most appropriately designed for an everyday and adventurous wearer, the Patek is a more refined and balanced watch designed for individuals with more delicate sensibilities. One not superior to the other, just different targets.
INDEPENDENTS’ DAY, HOUR, MINUTE, SECONDS
The amateur watch enthusiast I was, being near sighted on Rolex and my desire for their models, I realized that there is a broader and much more interesting watch world craft out there, namely the wealth of the independents. By wealth, I mean that the amount of skill and artisanal craft that exists out there must be hidden and vast. I started to look at independent brands some more well known than others, such as A. Lange and Sohne, Akrivia, Philippe Dufour, George Daniels, Roger W. Smith, Vacheron Constantin, Audemars Piguet, MB & F/H.Moser, F.P. Journe and others too numerous to mention. I don’t claim expertise about these brands nor do I know much about their watchmaking but what I do appreciate is their level of craftsmanship and their attention to detail without the pressure of having to mass produce. I do understand that as Thierry Stern said, “it’s not about the ads or how much money we can make (which is important), but what is more important is create the best quality product that will stand the test of time.” In fact, Thierry Stern admits that he has no time to deal with the ads or new boutiques because he is solely focused on creating works of art for his company to the world. For his brand, this mission statement clearly works and evidently the money has followed but only secondarily. This is something very noble and admirable and mostly intangible.
The Patek also initiated my curiosity into vintage watches twofold. First, the Aquanaut was so light and airy (80g), I realized that this was my niche in watches and always had been. I therefore veered away from the modern oversized and bulky watches and realized that if I desired light, thin and compact I would have to search for vintage. And second, when researching vintage, I discovered that the most beautiful Pateks were the vintage models, 1518, 2499, 570, 3940, 5550p. Classical and simply so beautiful.
Of course as of yet I have never purchased a vintage watch. I would much rather buy brand new and forge my own history but these beautiful vintage Pateks have made me wish I was able to purchase those watches brand new during that time period. Of course that is an impossibility, except by time travel (was that an intended pun?) and the only way to purchase them now was through preowned or new old stock, but today’s prices are simply too prohibitive for the time being. But that absolutely does not rule out my research into these vintage pieces which I love to do.