Patek Philippe brings back the ‘holy grail’ of watches for 170 lucky buyers
Patek Philippe announced Monday that it is making 170 special versions of its most popular watch as part of a partnership with Tiffany & Co., a launch likely to set off a buying frenzy among wealthy watch collectors.
This surprise decision comes just one year after Patek stopped making the famous Nautilus Ref watch. Demand and prices soared after the release of 5711
Patek announced that 170 of its special Ref. A limited number of Tiffany boutiques will sell 5711 watches featuring a Tiffany-blue dial. Patek Philippe explained that the watch was made to celebrate the 170-year relationship between Tiffany and Swiss watchesmaker.
Tiffany will have the opportunity to market what is arguably the most desired new watch in the entire world. This will be possible as the brand undergoes a major overhaul under LVMH’s chief Bernard Arnault.
CNBC spoke with Thierry Stern (CEO of Patek) about the gift. It was clear to me that I needed something special and unique. It’s the end of my watchmaking career.
All watch enthusiasts around the world believed that the final round had been in January. Patek suddenly announced it would stop producing the Ref. Patek announced that the Ref was being discontinued due to overwhelming demand and attention. The social media platform has made it a viral sensation. Among wealthy watch lovers, it had become one of the ultimate wrist trophies — a mixed blessing for a company that prides itself on its wide range of creative, complicated watches and refined gold, platinum and other designs.
“I don’t know why the sudden success happened. [of this watch]Stern stated that the company grew so quickly and soared so high. Stern said, “But I know I don’t want a mono-product firm. This is the reason I ended the 5711. It was enough.
Many watch shoppers were furious. A Ref. The 5711 was a high-end model that retailed at around $30,000 and required long wait lists. A new 5711 is not possible. The prices for pre-owned Ref. 5711s — already been prone to speculation — soared to more than $150,000 online. One was sold by Sotheby’s in 2020 for $475,000.
Stern stated that Stern made the decision to send the final 5711s to Tiffany because of their deep relationship and shared values. Tiffany was Patek’s U.S. first retail partner. Antoine Norbert de Patek visited New York on his first business trip. Today, Patek watches are sold at certain Tiffany boutiques and Patek watches co-stamped with the “Tiffany & Co” sell for big premiums.
These two companies, which are both family-owned, have plans to hand the leadership down to the next generation. Patek is owned by the Swiss Stern family since 1932. LVMH, however, is managed by Bernard Arnault who is currently the third-richest person in the world. Bernard Arnault has for years explored the potential of adding one of the Big Four watch brands — Rolex, Patek, Audemars Piguet and Richard Mille — to its luxury-brand stable, which already includes Tag Heuer, Zenith and Hublot. Stern stated that he had met Bernard Arnault before and said that he was independent of the company and did not want to sell.
Stern wanted to give Bernard Arnault something to celebrate LVMH’s purchase of Tiffany for $15.8billion. To present the Ref. LVMH. Alexandre Arnault (29-year-old family scion) was named Tiffany’s executive vice-president of product and communication.
Stern stated, “First I said to them that ‘gentlemen’ would be very surprised if you sat down. “They were very happy when I showed them the drawings.
Along with the special Tiffany-blue color, the watch will have the “Tiffany & Co.” stamp at 6 o’clock, paired with the Patek Philippe stamp at 12 o’clock. The sapphire-crystal case back bears the commemorative inscription “170th Anniversary 1851-2021 Tiffany & Co. – Patek Philippe.” Stern created a little “surprise”, which he will give to owners.
Stern explained, “I placed something secret inside the back watch.” “It’s quite funny.”
Patek’s gift to Tiffany means that the retailer is able to offer its highest-value clients new watches, and create excitement in its boutiques. Alexandre Arnault stated in a statement, “Proud to present this special edition featuring Tiffany Blue dials for our most discerning customers.”
But it comes with risks. Tiffany will offer the watch to more than 170 clients, many of whom will decline. The watch will be priced at $52,000, and it is only available in Tiffany boutiques located in New York and Beverly Hills that sell Patek Philippe.
Stern stated, “I had the nerve to warn Tiffany. I told her that this was a wonderful gift.” You will receive 170 pieces, and it is your choice whether or not to make it a sale. The 170 happy people will outnumber the unhappy ones. It is my hope that they will sell it to right people. For me, this is the most important thing. This is the most important thing about a watch.
The Ref. The Ref. 5711 represents the worst example of an increased supply-demand imbalance within the luxury watch industry. Record wealth has been created by the soaring stock market, crypto wealth, and flood of government stimulus. A new generation of young buyers began to explore high-end watches, as well as buying online during this pandemic.
Yet Patek Philippe, Rolex, Audemars Piguet and Richard Mille — all privately owned — haven’t meaningfully ramped up production. Morgan Stanley reports that Rolex sold 810,000 watches in 2013, Audemars Piguet 40,000, and Richard Mille 4,300. These numbers are lower than usual due to pandemic shutdowns.
Patek makes approximately 60,000 watches annually. The company claims it cannot increase its production without losing quality, just like other brands. Stern stated that it takes 10 years for a watchmaker to master complex parts and fabricate a Patek watch.
Stern stated that quality will be at the forefront of his wishlist. I’m not pushed by shareholders and don’t feel the need to rush. It’s not my goal to increase quantity in order to produce more. “I’m interested more in beauty and longevity.”
However, the low production of top brands has created a large online grey market for used watches. First time buyers will often find that their desired watch isn’t in stock at their local Rolex and Audemars stores. Waiting lists can be long for those who are lucky enough to make it on a waiting list. Many buyers look to WatchBox, WatchBox, Chrono24 and Chronext online stores that offer pre-owned watches at huge discounts. Online, you can find sought-after watches with official retail prices of $25,000 to $35,000 that are available for as low as $60,000.
Pre-owned 5711s are selling online for over $120,000. We don’t know what the secondary sale price will be for Tiffany models when they come up for auction. The answer may be next week. On Dec. 11, Tiffany will sell one of its watches at Phillips. All proceeds go to Nature Conservancy. This charity was chosen by Arnault.