Diary of a Patek Philippe collector – from Baselworld to Patekworld (29th March 2020)

In recent weeks, I have suggested that the cancellation of Baselworld should be used by the manufacturers to refocus attention and approach the release of their annual novelties in a different way. Today’s musings look at how Patek Philippe might do this.

Baselworld is, primarily, an opportunity for Patek Philippe to see each of its Authorised Dealers and to introduce the new watches and decide what watches will be allocated to each Authorised Dealer. It is not, of course, set in stone, but this is the essence. A few collectors manage to arrange slots to see the watches and try them on, but logistically, only a very small number get to do this. If you are not one of these customers, then in all likelihood you will need to place an order for a new watch without actually seeing one or trying one on.

Going forward, wouldn’t it be ideal if Patek Philippe decided to take the cancellation of Baselworld as an opportunity to shape a different way of presenting their watches to the world. One thing I am certain about is that if Patek Philippe had full control of Baselworld, they would not necessarily do it in quite the same way. There is something a little bit tacky about Baselworld. It is somewhat of an anathema that Patek Philippe are a part of the circus that is Baselworld. Baselworld just lacks that little bit of class and panache that is the hallmark of Patek Philippe. But it is more than that. Patek Philippe have always stamped their own individual and unique mark on how they do things. Baselworld is very much NOT in that keeping.

The solution could be to host “PatekWorld” at Rue du Rhone in Geneva. The Patek Philippe Salon in Geneva, with its 6 floors and sumptuous capacity would be an absolutely perfect venue. It would be able to serve the purpose of meeting both Authorised Dealers as well as welcoming loyal collectors. Yes, perhaps much more could be made of the Geneva Salon.

It was back in 1853 that Patek Philippe decided to move to larger premises for its headquarters. Patek Philippe have now occupied the building for the last 167 years! Of course, the initial occupation was a 15 year tenancy agreement but in 1891 it bought the building outright. The celebrated architect, Jacques-Elisée Goss, was employed to renovate the building. Much remained unchanged in style until a final restructuring took place between 2004-06 when Philippe Stern stamped his own mark on the building. One of the key aims of this last restructuring was to strike an impression on the collector as you entered the building. A vision, if you like. The entire collection of Patek Philippe is visible to the collector.

Now THAT is a greeting!

When one enters the Geneva Salon, one is struck by many things. There is a Patek-Panache that is evident from all the attention to detail. Dark wooden clad walls embossed with leather. A sumptuous yet effortless classiness that pervades every angle. Double-height ceiling in the collection rooms. A top floor that boasts one of the finest views in Geneva. In years gone by, this was indeed the area reserved for Patek Philippe watchmakers as a great source of creative inspiration. Yes, the Geneva Salon is imbued with the history of generational style.

This is a long-way removed from Baselworld.

What a place this would be to launch each year’s novelties? It would add something very special. It would allow Patek Philippe to control events in a way that is fitting for a company like Patek Philippe.

Baselworld is a rushed and makeshift episode that lacks sophistication. It lacks focus on the collector. And it needs restructuring. To me, it feels tacky. Maybe it works for many brands. But is it right for Patek Philippe?

In my view, no.