“Bringing something to the table” means different things to different people. For me, it is a central aspect of my collecting philosophy. It also explains why I err towards “horizontal” collecting rather than “vertical” collecting.
This will form the first of a series of articles that look at what various watches in my collection “bring to the table.” In many ways, it explains why I have purchased specific watches for my collection. Other collectors may have a different rationale behind their collecting philosophy, but for me, this is one of the central tenets to my collecting process.
When I say that a new addition to my collection needs to “bring something to the table”, what I mean is that it needs to add a dimension to my collection that is not already covered. For example, I own a Patek Philippe Ref. 5070P. It is a manual wind chronograph. Its main role in my collection is to fulfil my desire for that specific compication. As a result, I don’t own several manual wind chronographs. A vertical collector might consider adding a Ref. 5070G or indeed any of the other metals in the 5070 range. Or maybe delving into the Ref. 5170 range. The marginal benefit to a vertical collector would be significant. However, for me, adding another manual wind chronograph adds very little to my collection. It is not what delivers joy to me. For me, the aim is to find my single favourite version of the complication.
For my taste, this is the finest manual wind chronograph made by Patek Philippe
What the Ref. 5070P brings to my collection is that it gives me what I consider to be my favourite version of a manual wind chronograph. I look to do that within each complication within my collection. The 5070P also brings to the table some other aspects. For example, this version of the Ref. 5070P has a unique dial configuration that turns an already very rare reference into something extremely rare.
So, to summarise, my Ref. 5070P brings two key things to the table. First, it gives me what I consider my favourite manual wind chronograph complication. Secondly, it also adds an element of extreme rarity. Finally, I would add one other issue. In terms of personal taste, I love white metal watches with blue or black dials. It is what a great watch looks like to my eye. In this sense, the Ref. 5070P also delivers on that aesthetic aspect too.
Now, to consider something completely different, let me discuss the Patek Philippe Ref. 3417A. This is a watch that is in steel and is a manual wind. As a Calatrava, this watch delivers a lot of bang for the buck. Patek Philippe only made the 3417 in steel. With “Amagnetic” written on the dial, it is one of the very few dedicated tool watches in the Patek Philippe collection. According to John Reardon, some 400 of these “Amagnetic” 3417s were made, making it a relatively rare variant. I get a great deal of pleasure from having a diverse range of complications within my collection. Owning a time only Calatrava brings something very specific.
The Ref. 3417A represents what I feel to be my favourite Patek Calatrava
The time only Calatrava, however, is one that can come in many forms. For me, the Ref. 3417 (along with the 570) is my favourite variant of the Calatrava and thus fills this specific requirement within my collection. Add to this the fact that it has the added spice of being a very rare tool watch with the highly unusual “Amagnetic” script on the dial. Steel watches by Patek Philippe are few and far between. This certainly adds a different dimension to my collection.
And, to conclude this first article, I will look at the Ref. 5131P. Platinum case. Automatic movement. Enamel dial. Platinum bracelet. World time complication. This certainly adds to my collection in a way that no other watch does. Within the world time genre, I have to say that although I like both 5131 and 5231 as references, I prefer the 5131 significantly more. I find the case much more to my taste and I also feel the 5131 is less formal than the 5231. Within the 5131 metals, I will admit that my marginal favourite is the 5131R but that one belongs elsewhere in the family. After the 5131R, my next favourite is the 5131P and so that one represents the world time complication within my collection.
World time. Enamel. Ref. 5131P ticks the boxes
Each of these three watches brings something different to the table. Each watch represents what I consider to be my favourite (or near-favourite) version of that specific complication. And each watch has an added twist of spice that makes it very special to wear. Diversity in complication, dial, movement, case material, rarity and even case size. Within just three watches, so many different aspects are brought to the table. I try to look at each watch in my collection in this way to ensure that the marginal value to me in owning it remains significant.
As a collector, one can sometimes end up buying watches purely to add to a collection. In the past, I have certainly been guilty of that. Over recent years, I have tried to refine my collecting path so that my collection delivers a freshness and diversity that gives me great joy. Each watch in the collection delivers something very specific, and in doing so makes the wearing of the watch very enjoyable. Of course, as new watches are made, there needs to be an ongoing evaluation. The introduction of the Ref. 5172 this year required a question to be asked. Do I prefer it to the Ref. 5070P. Had the answer to that been yes, then I would have replaced my Ref. 5070P.