The Secret Diary of a Patek Philippe Collector (Sunday 1st December)

Another fascinating week on Instagram. So many things caught my attention.

What do we mean by “collecting?” It means different things to different people. I will say this – the Instagram platform certainly provides a very broad spectrum of definitions of the genre. Some fantastic. Some just ridiculous.

This week on Instagram, I had the pleasure in seeing a number of really thought-provoking posts. Let me start with @drjuanola. I love his Instagram posts. This week he addressed the very issue of what it means to him to be a “collector”. I have copied his words in the following paragraph.

…. “in my mind and heart at least, watches are unlike other collectibles and have, therefore, to be treated differently than paintings, coins or even cars. Watches have a life of their own, a beating heart inside – the movement- that cries to express time in an infinite circle. A timepiece, further, wants to not just tell but to record a story and so touches the past, the present and the future. A watch can only realize its purpose when it is running and being worn. So the relationship between owner and watch is not unilateral”

I have to say, I empathise almost completely with this view of watch collecting. What a fabulous expression of the process. For me, I wear watches and experience particular events in my life with particular watches on my wrist. Those memories are special to me. They will also be special to my son when he starts wearing those self-same watches. To me, this living experience – history if you like – is a massive component of collecting. It is why I wear every single one of my watches. @drjuanola, yes “wearing and collecting” are two very sepertate things for me too.

The second post that caught my attention was by @art_of_horology_. His post told the story of a particular book that he owned about Patek Philippe. Not just any book. A limited edition book, signed by Henri and Philippe Stern as well as Martin Huber and Alan Banberry. And even then, not just any one of the limited edition books, but one that was owned by the Stern family with a personal inscription inside the book by both Henri and Philippe Stern.

Here is another passionate collector reflecting their passion for collecting in a way that shows both the necessary attention to detail, the homework and the pride in what they do. Bravo! Also providing knowledge and insight in what they do.

The third Instagram post that caught my attention was from @theopencaseback. I think that these posts are thought-provoking and push us, as collectors, to start thinking about broader issues.

“Time is Money – how watches became financial instruments.’ “Will Instagram’s subtle shift lead to better watch content?” “The Contrarian View: Why I will never buy a watch at full retail.”

Image by @theopencaseback

Yes, these are all fascinating topics and, again, congratulation on posting them and drawing attention to what so many “collectors” want to talk about.

I am truly tired of seeing the type of post that @ArchieLuxury describes as the “look at ME” collector. Showy. Unsophisticated. Boasting. When did watch collecting become so dominated by ego-driven boasting? I have one particular watch in my collection that is not especially valuable. A “Look at Me!” collector saw it and said to me…”That is a disgrace. Why would you own something like that?”. The problem for him, you see, was that the vintage watch was only “worth” a few hundred dollars. He could see no further than the fact that it wasn’t a Patek Philippe and that it was not worth much money.

One forum I looked at this week had a Patek Philippe “collector” make the following comment…

“To be honest, there is nothing for me in Patek Philippe beyond the Nautilus 5711”.

Wow!!! What a comment.

I saw another comment from another so-called collector bemoaning the fact that his Daytona was SO rare that dealers saw no point in hyping it as there simply were not enough to make the dealers any serious money. How often do we see so-called collectors value their watches based on how much money they fetch? One thing for sure, they bring the monetary value into the discussion rather frequently. Or they feel aggrieved that their watches are not worth more money? It is getting so very boring.

I feel a tide is turning. I feel that the type of posts and thinking by the three guys I have mentioned above are starting to gather some positive momentum. There is a growing need for collectors who are focused on their passion for collecting to have more airtime than the “Look at Me” boastful collector who’s egos and opinions need deflating.