“The replacement to the Ref. 5711 will be quite major,” Patek Philippe President Thierry Stern tells nytimes.com. “It will be better than the Ref. 5711.” Internet wags have declared that there will be two versions of the new watch. The scuttlebutt says it will look like the old 5711, only larger (41mm). One will boast a titanium case and bracelet with a blue sunburst dial, the other a platinum case with a black dial. We shall see. The more disturbing news . . .
Initially, the new Patek Philippe 6711 will only be sold “at our own salons located in Geneva, Paris and London. It is not the perfect solution, and it will be a nightmare for them.” Ya think? It’s actually worse than that. All those disappointed 5711 wait listers have been wiped from the slate. New watch, new waiting lists.
Customers of the Geneva, Paris and London Patek boutiques have a higher priority than any customers of any other Patek boutique anyplace else. In other words, customers who kissed the Patek ring at an authorized dealer (i.e., bought a large number of non-5711’s to boost their chances of getting a 5711) outside those patek-owned store have no inside track on the new timepiece. They have to jockey – again – for a shot at the new watch.
Realizing the turmoil he’s created, Mr. Stern prevaricated. “That is my suggestion right now, but we will listen to our store managers.” I don’t know about you but I wouldn’t want to be handling authorized dealer enquiries at Patek HQ. Or from frustrated customers at the dealer level. “Authorized dealers have told WatchPro in recent years that it requires full time employees to field [5711-related] persistent inquiries.”
That said, authorized Patek Dealers must be relieved they no longer have to deal with 5711 calls or police against flippers. By restricting initial sales to three capitals, the watchmaker has made the new Patek Philippe 6711 out of pure unobtanium. Authorized dealers can simply shrug their shoulders and say “How about a stainless steel 5212A World Time? I can get you one of those in less than a decade. Or so.”
Will disappointed 5711 buyers be spending their money with Patek on something else, despite Stern’s decision to cancel their aspirations? Or will they move to other brands – as suggested by our man Franz. That remains to be seen. The first part of the watchmaker’s famous tagline – “You never really own a Patek Philippe” – might end up being prophetic.
Patek would have been better advised to allow dealers to add a huge markup to reduce 5711 waiting times, as our man Adams suggested for Rolex. Think of it this way: after the steel 5711, what halo watch does Patek have? Killing their most famous model in favor of the Patek Philippe 6711 – whatever that may be – removes a lure (not to mention Patek’s allure).
Meanwhile, there’s joy in mudville. Non-Patek brands – Vacheron Constantin, Audemars Piguet, Jaeger-leCoultre, F.P. Journe and others – must consider this move a major opening. Assuming, that is, they have something to sell. The Vacheron Constantin Overseas, for example, has a two-year waiting list for its blue dial Overseas. And growing. F.P. Journe’s quartz watch is a similar sell-out.
But neither watchmaker has any plans to kill their most popular models. Why would they?