Watch News 6/19/2020: Patek Philippe Opens New Factory

Patek Philippe Calatrava caseback

The really big watch news this week? May’s cataclysmic drop in Swiss watch exports. But we’ve already covered that so . . . Patek Philippe celebrated the opening of its new $600m Geneva production and customer schmooze lounge with the launch of their first-ever watch with a sticker on the back (2019?). The watchmaker will not be changing . . .

Patek Philippe visitors' lounge - watch news

the number of watches they crank out manufacture per year: 62k. Especially now that demand has cratered and there’s at least three months of inventory lingering in authorized dealers’ safes. But they will be serving kaffee und kuchen to Patekaholics in their new visitors’ lounge – providing they don’t use the new floor for skateboarding.

Audemars Piguet Reduces Annual Production by 7k Watches

Audemars Piguet manufacturing

Audemars Piguet makes around 44k watches per year. Make that “made.” AP shut down production from March 18 until May 11. Watchpro.com put some numbers to Coronageddon’s impact on AP manufacturing:

AP hopes to be back up to 100% by the end of August  . . . Four months of production at 80% capacity would potentially reduce the number of watches manufactured by around 3,000 units.

Two months of complete shutdown would rob the world of another 7,000 meaning that roughly one quarter of 2020’s production will have been lost.

Audemars Piguet at Zadok Jewelers Houston

Some of the lost capacity could be caught up because AP is concentrating on producing watches from its current collections rather than lose more time retooling for new models for 2020.

We’re still thinking AP’s going to make more grail watches – Royal Oaks – to put a tiger in their authorized dealers’ tanks. We’ll let you know.

“Lost” 1970 Paul Newman Rolex Daytona Meets Auction Estimate 

Watch news! Paul Newman Rolex Daytona fetches $191k

Despite not touching actor Paul Newman’s wrist, the “Paul Newman” Daytona in Bob’s Watches’ Fresh Finds sale met its reserve and raked in $191k, but fell below the top estimate ($175k to $225k). The backstory is the thing:

Last year, a story made headlines throughout the industry about a Canadian woman who found a Rolex Paul Newman Daytona ref. 6241 in between the cushions of a couch that she had purchased from the thrift store.

The woman contacted the store, and after no one came forward to claim the watch, the ultra-collectable vintage Rolex became hers. This is that exact watch, which we purchased directly from the woman, and are proud to offer as part of our ‘Fresh Finds’ auction.

I wonder how much Bob made on the deal. Sotheby’s is flogging some better quality Rolex Daytonas in its “Important Watches” auction from now to the 24th. It’ll be interesting to see how they do. Keep up-to-date with our watch news.

King George III’s Breguet Gold Tourbillon Pocket Watch for $1.2m?

King George's Breguet

On July 14, French watchmaker Abraham Louis Breguet’s first tourbillon goes under the hammer. Famously, King George III was its first owner. Twenty-five years after losing the American War of Independence, the mentally ill Royal bought the watch “discreetly” (England was in the middle of the Napoleonic Wars against the French).

Tourbillon of King George's Breguet

To disguise its provenance (as if), Breguet signed the Tourbillon carriage inside the watch. Watch news! The last time Sotheby’s sold this bad boy was 1999, when it fetched £551,500 ($681,124). Will it double in price and beat the Dent pocket watch’s online auction record of $832,240? Another one to watch, so to speak.

Apple Watch Saves 92-Year-Old Nebraskan Farmer

Screenshot 2020-06-19 at 3.41.40 PM

“Hey Siri Jim Salsman, hurt bad on the farm,” the Nebraskan nonagenarian told his Apple Watch after falling 21 feet off a ladder. As you can see from my dramatic recreation, that’s not how you do it.

watch news Apple fall detection

Never mind. The watch’s fall detection app automatically alerted the Grant Volunteer Fire Department, who rescued Mr. Salsman. And helped sell more Apple Watches.

Galaxy Watch Active 2 Adds Blood Pressure Monitoring

Galaxy 2 blood pressure monitoring

Back in 2017, a Deloitte study found that 72 percent of Swiss watch executives “do not see smart watches as a threat to their business.” As above, the smart watch’s “health benefits” continue to make them less of a luxury and more of a necessity. Now as a blood pressure monitor – for South Korean buyers. theverge.com reports that it’s not perfect. Yet.

The Galaxy Watch Active 2 still won’t work as a full-on replacement for a traditional blood pressure cuff; in fact, you need to use one to calibrate the app every four weeks.

That’s really for the best, though — optical-based sensors can technically only measure the change in blood pressure rather than give an accurate reading by themselves. With a traditional reading as a baseline, Samsung’s app should be more useful for tracking trends over time or between visits to the doctor.

As for the execs dismissing smartwatches, the middle watch above has some advice.

Zenith to Launch e-Commerce Website on June 30

Borsheims Jewelers

Swiss luxury watchmakers have been extremely reluctant to sell their watches online. They don’t want to bite the hand that feeds: their authorized dealer (AD) network. And yet, clawing back that 40 percent markup would look really good on their balance sheet.

And then there’s the issue that dare not speak its name: discounts. At the moment, any AD for any brand that dared offer a watch online for less than msrp would be toast. How long can that go on? We shall see. Meanwhile, Zenith’s American jefe is downplaying his employer’s e-commerce ambitions, lest it lead to a dealer revolt.

Thierry Collot

“As far as the commercial validity of e-commerce, it remains to be seen,” Zenith USA brand director Thierry Collot tells The Robb Report. “It’s important to have it. Since we only have 30 doors in the whole country, we have customers who say, ‘I’m 60 miles away from this city, where do you want me to get my watch?’”

German Watch Dealer Blames Bad Weather for British Downturn

May Watch Sales Growth

Zooming with our friends at watchpro.com, Philipp Man says he’s seen a “disproportionate drop off in demand in the UK.” CHRONEXT’s CEO first tied the relatively steep downturn (above) to British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s COVID-19 hospitalization. And then Mr. Man pointed the finger at psychometerology.

“In Germany and Switzerland, the weather has been great and people do not have such a gloomy attitude. It feels much more like an epidemic in the UK.”

Don’t you just hate it when weather rains on your horological parade?

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