The race for The King of Steel has begun! Even before the Patek 5711’s spectacular exit from the scene, there was a long string of luxury steel watch pretenders vying for the crown. Patek’s decision has triggered a veritable Match Royale, with a range of upmarket steel contenders competing to wrap themselves around wealthy wrists . . .
I’ve selected a few alternatives to the Patek 5711 for those seeking an equally or indeed superior feat of pornowristic presence. There are several alternatives from watchmarkers who are as prestigious as Patek Philippe, some a bit more exclusive. They won’t make the same impression as a Patek 5711, especially now, but they won’t you treat you, your money and your commitment to the Maison as a pariah.
While we might debate about the success of the latest events at Audemars Piguet – still coping with the lukewarm reaction of its Code 11.59 and a declining interest in its models – we can speculate that the announcement by our buddies at Patek has put a smile on their lips.
Audemars Piguet Royal Oak – $28k and up
The equally Genta-designed Royal Oak has forever been the anti-Nautilus, and losing to it somewhat recently. Patek’s termination of the 5711 (with extreme prejudice) will probably change things a lil’ bit with buyers. Audemars Piguet as a brand is heavily dependent on the Royal Oak’s fortunes.
The disappearance of their arch-enemy has left a lot of empty space ready to be filled. While AP suffered a COVID-reduced output of 37k in 2020 – compared to the usual 50k – it continues to sell its most celebrated steely watch in several flavors, from the simplest to the most complicated.
Previously on Who Wants to be the Patek 5711, the Oak would have represented a sort of second-best. Today it becomes the only one – if you aren’t considering the new Titanium Patek 6711, which will be sold in three Patek boutiques. So, the old Audemars Piguet is bound to find revenge customers for their iconic Royal Oak watch in steel. Sweet vengeance, I might add.
A. Lange & Söhne Odysseus – $35k
One of the latest additions to the fold comes from the North. A. Lange & Söhne recently entered the field of luxury sports in steel with their luxury steel Odysseus sports watch. While I don’t find the Big O that appealing – its design is pretty much derived from the usual timepieces of the Glashutte-based watchmaker – the Odysseus is quintessential Lange.
Lange doesn’t publish production figures. Analysts speculate the German watchmaker’s annual production runs at around 10k timepieces. That places their products in a higher echelon of exclusivity compared to Audemars and Patek by a factor of five. This means the Odysseus is fairly uncommon. Despite my previous diss, the watch is attractive in its own austere way – a viable alternative to the now gone Patek 5711.
Every race to the podium needs the underdog. My choice . . .
Chopard Alpine Eagle – $12,900
The Alpine Eagle was directly inspired by the watch that the current co-president of the Maison, Karl-Friedrich Scheufele, designed back in 1980 when he was still a simple employee in the family manufacture. You might balk a bit at the unoriginal design which winks at one element or another of its more celebrated competitors, but this watch is made in a special kind of steel that beats the Rolex at their game.
Lucent Steel A223 is definitely good-looking, with its precious lustre. The Maison touts the Alpine Eagle as 50 percent more resistant to scratches vs. regular stainless steel. The dial’s rock-like texture is certainly unique. At a list price of $12,900, the steel watch is something of a bargain for a timepiece of this stature.
After the choice of the Kings and Princes, I’ll close with something for us, watch plebeians . . .
Tudor Royal – $2150
The luxury sports in steel niche is so sizzling hot that even one of the most cautious behemoths of horology, Rolex, launched the new stainless steel Tudor Royal. Tudor’s not on the same level of the models and brands that we’ve outlined up to now, but they do look pornowristic. And we must factor in its absolutely affordable list price – a welcome change to the soaring list price trend that affects the releases of the Jolly Green Giant.
The Royals’ 316L steel isn’t the same 904L Oystersteel Rolex uses in its most noble line but the retro-inspired timepieces look amazing. The list price, well under the $2500 mark, is enticing enough that you won’t miss the sheen of the 904L. Much. If you could get it.
There are plenty of alternatives ready to populate the wrist of 5711 buyers jilted at the altar. We haven’t considered many others that would fit into this niche nicely, including the Piaget Polo. The decision to kill the Patek 5711 and pull out of luxury steel niche, although justified, opens the door to other brands eager to capture a powerful and affluent fan base. Will Patek pretenders stray? Did Patek shoot itself in the foot? Time will tell.
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