Its all about Philippe when it comes to Patek. Philippe Stern is a legend in Horology. Son of Henri and the third generation of the family to exercise control of the most important of watch brands, many believe his greatest achievement was the Calibre 89, a commemorative pocket watch created in 1989 to celebrate 150 years. 25 years later and with the presidency relinquished to his son Thierry it is clear that his influence bringing Patek into the modern age including a leading edge production facility in Plan-les-Ouates was far greater. Collectors now value the watches created under his presidency as the grail Pateks, design that was both forward thinking, but with a nod to the archives. Auction results speak volumes and disappointing prices for modern references such as the 5204 are focusing the minds of those with substantial holdings of Pateks. The patterns are obvious; when we talk Patek we mean Philippe.
One watch that embodies everything about the Philippe Stern presidency is the Patek Philippe 5004, a reference that at current prices seems achingly good value. After 15 short years during which production was halted to allow the watch makers to concentrate on a separate split-second calibre and perhaps a maximum of 12 per year being produced during that period this is a rare timepiece. Quite simply this is more than a 3970 with a split second. This is the modern day 2499. People often ask me why is the 3970 such value, and the answer is production numbers. With the 5004 that is not a concern, demand has always outstripped supply and as the years pass the numbers available on the open market shrinks as strong handed collectors add them to their own. What’s more, the premium to 5970 is also too small, fuelled by the love of that particular reference and its constant PR in the horological magazines and social media. A clever investor now pays the premium and buys a 5004.
And finally a nod to the greatest of all 5004s. To celebrate the retirement of perhaps one of the greatest modern Pateks’ and sold exclusively through its salon in Geneva, fifty examples were produced in stainless steel. Patek communicated no information on this model, but owner’s names were engraved on the glass of the case back to deter sellers. Rumours exist of higher production numbers, but no logic exists as to why Patek would reduce the impact of such a legendary piece and speaking to owners of these it seems hard to even name a tenth of the membership of this exclusive club. So there we have it, the modern day 2499 and one hell of a clever investment.
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