WatchPro reports that Jomashop is selling a green dial Nautilus 5711-1A-014 for a “staggering” $363,600. The Nautilus in question is a boxfresh example from Patek’s 5711 farewell tour. The Last of the [Horological] Mohicans retails for $35k. Jomashop’s 10X flip so offended WatchPro’s Rob Corder that the industry rag’s sycophant-in-chief resorted to obscenity . . .
The site even has the balls to say that the watch is included in its “Summer Sale” . . . “Our goal is to provide the best service with the best possible pricing,” the company states without a trace of irony.
I don’t know from whence Mr. Corder’s testicular sarcasm springs. I doubt it’s on behalf of the thousands of aspiring Nautilus owners sandbagged by Patek Philippe’s decision to cease production of their most iconic model. Perhaps Mr. Corder’s pissed that the industry he covers without a trace of irony seems to have lost its collective mind. Well, not the manufacturers . . .
The buyers. For it is they who’ve turned the market for the Patek Philippe Nautilus into the modern day equivalent of Holland’s 17th century tulip craze. Tulips you say? Yes, tulips. investopedia.org:
In 1634, tulipmania swept through Holland. “The rage among the Dutch to possess [tulip bulbs] was so great that the ordinary industry of the country was neglected, and the population, even to its lowest dregs, embarked in the tulip trade.” . . . the best of tulips cost upwards of $750,000 in today’s money (but with many bulbs trading in the $50,000 – $150,000 range).
Supply and demand baby! It’s the same inviolable economic law that’s elevated the price of a $35k Green Dial Nautilus to $360k. Just for fun, guess what happens when demand craters? By the end of 1637, the Dutch tulip market crashed. Big time.
Once prices started their decline, holders were forced to liquidate – to sell their bulbs at any price and to declare bankruptcy in the process. “Hundreds who, a few months previously had begun to doubt that there was such a thing as poverty in the land suddenly found themselves the possessors of a few bulbs, which nobody would buy,” even at prices one-fourth of what they paid. By 1638, tulip bulb prices had returned to from whence they came.
I’m not saying that the price of a pre-owned green dial Nautilus – or its blue dial predecessor – will return to MSRP or below anytime soon, if ever. As long as Patek maintains its mystique, as long as it preserves its place atop “The Holy Trinity,” there’s a good chance demand for its most popular products will exceed supply (60k watches a year), sustaining MSRP-plus prices.
But there are signs that we’ve reached peak Patek. The Chrono24.com chart accompanying WatchPro’s recent article – Prices plateau for hottest Rolex, Patek Philippe and Audemars Piguet watches – tells the tale.
The March price spike coincides with Patek’s decision to kill the blue dial 5711. I’m thinking the plateau also coincides with a rush to market by owners looking to cash in their chips and double their money. As with most plateaus, the next bit of the roller coaster ride is most likely downwards.
Part of that’s due to the Emperor’s New Clothes effect. Truth be told, the 5711 Nautilus isn’t a very exciting watch. Sure, it’s Gerald Genta’s masterpiece. A watch that revived Patek during the quartz crisis, replicating the hail Mary success of his Audemars Piguet Royal Oak. To fondle a plain Jane Patek Philippe Nautilus is to grok its quintessence. But really? Meh. I mean, there are other Pateks people.
Jomashop’s selling a brand new 18k white gold Patek Philippe Grand Complications Silvery Opaline watch for 23 percent below retail. A watch that MSRP’s at $53,463 can be yours for just $41,350 (minus three percent if you wire the money). Don’t be put off by its 38mm size or that awkward date window; 347 precision parts can’t be all wrong.
Or can they? Either way, right now, it pays not to buy a Patek Philippe Nautilus. Unless, of course, you don’t have the faith in your own taste and/or can’t live with a watch that doesn’t prove that you’re the successful horological hunter gatherer (for now). And don’t care that your “it” watch may well shed a significant portion of its market value over time.
It seems pretty clear that buying any 5711 at this point puts you at the top of the market. Peak Patek, if you will. That’s not a place where I’m comfortable. But then I’m not made of money, like the person who will buy the $360k green dial Nautilus and not even think about the price. Bastard.