Diary of a Patek Philippe collector (29th December)

About 10 years ago, I was at a watch GTG in Munich. I was sitting next to a guy I had never met before. On my wrist was a Daytona 6239 PN dial. At the time, I owned two PN dials and was very proud of them both.

The collector I was sitting next to noticed my watch and asked if I was a Rolex collector. I answered that I was building a collection. I asked him what he collected and he answered that he also collected Rolex. Then, I asked him if there was any particular area that he focused upon. He said that he liked Submariner and Daytona. I asked him what type of Daytona he liked and he said that he liked the PNs very much. So, the natural question that followed from me was what Daytona PN did he own. I was not prepared for the answer that I got.

“I own all versions of the PN dial with the exception of one variant in one reference.”

Seen one PN, seen them all? Errr, no.

The thing is, the collector was not showing off in the slightest. I received a message from the same collector a few months back. Still friendly. Still passionate about vintage watches. And still building his collection.

There are always bigger fish. It is a lesson I have learnt throughout my life. I remember once sitting at my desk at work feeling smugly self-satisfied. Then, I looked around me at the other professionals sitting at their desks. One billionaire immediately in front of me. Two more billionaires behind him. $500m on my right.

I wiped that self-satisfied look off my face and decided I needed to work harder! There are always bigger fish.

However, what I also have come to realise is that many areas of life are simply not a competition. Regrettably, watch collecting has become competitive for many people. Amongst other things, the value of watches, the profit motive and the fact that the market is fractured between primary seller and secondary seller has all conspired to create a type of competitiveness amonsgt many collectors. And with such a lot of money at stake, there is an associated group of people attached to watch collecting that can tarnish the enjoyment. Watch collecting is not a competition. There will always be guys with bigger and more expensive collections. Does it matter that some collectors need to brag? Does it matter that watch collecting has become big business for many?

Well, one way of dealing with the situation is to focus on the growing band of collectors who are starting to change the collecting approach in a very good way. My favourite iG sites have tended to adopt a fair and neutral approach to watch reviews. There is no “is my watch better than yours?” type of issues. Instead, there is a fair and polite evaluation of what facts there are accompanied by personal opinion. Personal opinion is such an important aspect of this hobby of ours. I tend to value an owner’s opinion about a watch a great deal. I also tend to appreciate personal opinion when it is polite, rational and balanced. Most relevantly, I tend to pay a great deal of attention to educated views.

With this in mind, I have grown to appreciate a number of iG contributors over the course of 2019. My Top 10 (in no particular order of importance)

  1. @le_monde_edmond OK, you have to forgive him his obsession with Rolex, but for expert and independent opinions on Patek Philippe as well as Rolex, you could do a lot worse than read this. Insightful. Objective. Definitive.
  2. @___T.W.O___ Covering watch content from Patek Philippe, Rolex, ALS, Longines, JLC, Omega, GP, Doxa and literally dozens of other manufacturers. All watch pictures on this site belong to T.W.O, which is unusual in this instaglam world. Non-profit and driven by a host of former forum moderators.
  3. @circleofwatch Providing daily content across a wide range of manufacturers. Always interesting to view.
  4. @theopencaseback No pictures here but this collector is posing the type of questions that so many collectors want to discuss. An absolute must-visit site.
  5. @blommanwatchreport provides an almost daily report on a vast array of different manufacturers, though specialises in JLC. Covers vintage and modern with an emphasis on the former. I would also include @jaegerlecoultre_aficionado within the JLC stable.
  6. @drjuanola is a collector I have a lot of time for. Detail-orientated, well-written and always interesting to read.
  7. @horology_ancienne for providing primary research on so many interesting facets of Patek Philippe. Two gentlemen who have curated one of the finest collections of Patek Philippe anywhere. Always worth reading. Articulate. Insightful. Owner of the “King.”
  8. @gp_chronicles for anyone who loves Girard Perregaux, this site is essentially the only place you need to visit. Covering vintage and modern. Superb.
  9. @hunter_of_the_holy_grails as every now and then, one comes across a collector where there is a very high empathy of collecting ethos. I love this collection!
  10. @bluepatek for a beautifully curated collection and a wonderful diversity of watches. And a true gentleman.

There are some heavyweight collectors in this list above. No doubt about that. At the same time, every single one of them has a classiness and individuality that stands them apart. Amongst the depth and complexity of these collections, one will still often hear comments like “nothing beats my Aquanaut.” I love that! Today, one of the gentlemen above shared with me a stunning Calatrava. It is this ability to understand the essence of the manufacturer which seperates many collectors.

These collectors know and understand their chosen manufacturers in a way that is only possible through extensive ownership of many watches over many years. Detailed research. And a desire to understand the manufacturer. Gentlemen, wishing you all the very best for 2020.