Diary of a Patek Philippe collector – Taking Stock (29th aug 2020)

For a few years, now, I have been repeating a mantra to myself that I wanted to reduce the size of my collection. I wanted to sell watches in my collection that did not mean much to me. And I wanted more watches that did mean something to me.

So, how has this process been going?

My good friend from Australia, JS, would send congratulation messages to me every time I added a new watch to my collection. It would quite often be attached to a comment that he was glad to see the reduction in collection size going so well. Yes, JS, it has been a lot harder than I expected!

The reality is, over the last few years, my collection has grown in size each year. In particular, I have added a number of Rolex watches from the 1990-2000 era. Actually, way too many. Within Patek Philippe, I was trying to take stock of what had been added over the last two years.

It is interesting for me to recognise that although I have added to both Rolex and Patek Philippe, it is only from the former that I have looked to reduce in size. Within Patek Philippe, although I have no watches that I am looking to buy, there is nothing that I am looking to sell either. So, what then have I added over the last couple of years, and why?

Nautilus 5712A was one from 2019 and has become one of my favourite daily wearers.

“Piece Unique” Ref. 5070P was also one from 2019 and an opportunity to acquire an icon.

I added two in 2019. The Ref. 5712A is my one and only Nautilus. I find it a truly enjoyable watch to wear. Casual. Fun. And it works regardless of what I am wearing or where I am going. It is a watch that I wear a lot of the time.

The Ref. 5070P “piece unique” was a rare opportunity for me to buy an iconic chronograph. The 5070P is one of the finest chronographs produced by Patek Philippe. As a reference, the “standard” 5070P was actually the very first Patek Philippe that I bought back in 2009. Getting the opportunity to buy from Patek Philippe a “piece unique” version of the watch was something that I could not resist. Of all the watches that I have ever owned, nothing quite has the vibrancy of dial as this watch.

In 2020, I have added three watches to the Patek Philippe collection. Ref 5167A is one that went to my son for graduating as a doctor. The Ref. 5065A and Ref. 5167R have also been added to furnish my growing affection for Aquanauts.

The Ref. 5167A is a celebration watch. 6 years at Oxford studying medicine. Engraved to mark the occasion. This is a lot what watch collecting is about for me. Marking special occasions that will evoke great memories in the future.

When I bought my Ref. 5650G, I found my favourite modern watch. Ever since, I have developed a growing affection for Aquanauts. This Ref. 5065A has all the DNA of the very earliest Aquanauts and (along with my 5712A) is one of my favourite daily wearers.

The most recent addition in 2020 has been the Ref. 5167R. I wanted something a little bit different. A coloured-metal Aquanaut was, it has to be said, a risk. But it has worked out superbly.

Yes, my collection of Patek Philippe watches has grown over the last two years. And, if I am honest, I don’t really see the collection declining in size going forward. Maybe the occasional watch will leave the nest if I find something to replace the role it plays in the collection.

And so, in this “taking stock” process, I have realised something quite specific about how I collect. I collect Rolex in a very different way to the way I collect Patek Philippe. With Patek Philippe, I spend a lot of time thinking about what I like about a watch. The checklist is really quite considerable. I also think a lot about how a particular watch will fit into the overall collection, what it brings to the table, and the type of circumstances where I will wear it. For me, there is the greatest pleasure in wearing my watches.

So if I have a watch that rarely sees the light of day, it inevitably gets sold eventually as wearing is a big part of the fun for me. With Patek Philippe, so much time has been taken in evaluating a watch that I find I rarely ever wish to sell one. They all get worn and enjoyed. With Rolex, it is very different.

With Rolex, I spend a lot less time evaluating a watch. Over the last 10-15 years, I have probably ended up selling over 80% of the Rolex watches that I have bought. With Patek Philippe, I still own over 80% of the watches that I have ever bought. There is a difference in philosophy about how I evaluate the two brands.

I know which of the two philosophies I enjoy most…….