October 4, 2022
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Most watch lovers would agree that proudly owning a timepiece by Patek Philippe means you have got arrived in the horological huge leagues.

However, for additional cachet, what if the face of the watch featured the retailer’s identify — 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 lately discontinued Ref. 5711, the metal Nautilus, one of the most coveted wristwatches in the world?

Nicely, you then would have the equal of a horological unicorn, the hypothetical worth of which could rewrite the report guide for secondhand watch gross sales.

Till in the present day, the luxurious watch world was not conscious of such a timepiece. However fantasy is to satisfy actuality later this month, when the mannequin is scheduled to be delivered to Tiffany places in New York; Beverly Hills, Calif.; and San Francisco.

Often called Ref. 5711/1A-018, this Nautilus might 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 auction on Saturday, with proceeds benefiting The Nature Conservancy, a worldwide environmental group.

“We’ve been working so lengthy with Tiffany,” Thierry Stern, Patek Phillipe’s president, mentioned on a video name in mid-November. “It’s our oldest retailer in 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 turned the Swiss firm’s first approved U.S. vendor. Over time, the settlement has survived quite a few possession adjustments, 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 mentioned he wished to sign to Tiffany that “you have got been doing job,” particularly now that the necessary step of its sale to LVMH has been taken.

However, “I’m undecided it’s a present for them,” he added. “It could be an enormous downside. They might not understand how troublesome it’s going to be to decide on the shoppers.”

That could be the understatement of the 12 months. The frenzy that’s positive to erupt amongst longtime Patek Philippe collectors and necessary Tiffany shoppers over these 170 timepieces is prone to be nearly unprecedented.

Launched in 2006, the Ref. 5711 — itself a refined model of the unique 1976 Nautilus, a chrome steel luxurious sport watch influenced by nautical motifs and designed by the celebrated Gerald Genta — has lengthy been one of many business’s most prized wristwatches. However across the begin of the coronavirus pandemic, costs for pre-owned items started to climb. Earlier this 12 months, when Patek Philippe introduced it was discontinuing the model, the secondary market reacted by pricing it at almost 4 instances its $34,890 retail worth.

In February, Mr. Stern said 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 offer the mannequin “a victory lap.” (Patek Philippe sells its timepieces by a tightly managed community of shops around the globe.)

“We may have a shock closing sequence of the Ref. 5711,” Mr. Stern mentioned then. “And it isn’t what was left in 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 value. Three months later, one piece, nonetheless in its factory-sealed packaging, offered 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 might convey $800,000,” mentioned John Reardon, the founding father of Collectability, an academic platform and on-line reseller of classic Patek Philippes. (Mr. Reardon was commenting typically on retailer-signed dials, not the Tiffany Blue watch in specific.)

Double-signed watches had been comparatively fashionable in the twentieth century, when watchmakers, together with Patek Philippe and Rolex, honored their relationships with retailers similar to 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 at all times in demand.

“Twenty years in the past, I had quite a few collectors check with retailer signatures on a Patek Philippe dial as nothing however graffiti,” Mr. Reardon mentioned.

Now, he continued, collectors prize unique situation above all else. “Once you discover a phenomenal dial with a retailer signature, it usually signifies the dial is unique and unrestored,” Mr. Reardon mentioned. “These retailer-signed Patek Philippe iconic references are thought of benchmark trophies.”

For causes which will need to 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 moderately than opportunists chasing a quick buck, Mr. Reardon mentioned. (Certainly, the corporate is the one retailer in the world whose identify continues to seem on a Patek Philippe dial.)

“Every part has a value, however not for these collectors,” he mentioned. “That Tiffany signature is to them one thing sacred, one thing priceless and one thing to be stored in their households.”

The brand new mannequin might be $52,635. A spokeswoman for Patek Philippe mentioned the upper value 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 mentioned he had mentioned the restricted version with Alexandre Arnault, Tiffany’s government vp of product and communications. His father, Bernard Arnault, is LVMH’s chief government.) However it’s yet one more innovation for the reason that LVMH takeover — becoming a member of the collaboration with Supreme, the Beyoncé and Jay-Z ad campaign and the home’s first-ever line of males’s engagement rings — elevating the thrill degree 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 corporations 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 mentioned.

He paused earlier than including a remark that appeared to acknowledge what many in the watch world may ask once they learn in regards to the restricted version: Is Patek Philippe on the market, and can the client be Tiffany’s mother or father firm?

“It’s enjoyable; it’s not business,” Mr. Stern mentioned in regards to the Easter egg. “And solely a household enterprise can try this.”

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