Amongst the firearms fraternity, Heckler & Koch has an unofficial moto: “Because you suck and we hate you.” The commonly held perception: because the German gunmaker only cares about the military market it treats civilian buyers like persona non grata. The Patek parallel couldn’t be clearer.
Not when you read Patek Philippe Prez Thierry Stern’s comments about the watchmaker’s “new” 5811 – the replacement for the legendary Gerald Genta-designed 5711 (a.k.a, Nautilus).
Speaking to The Daily Telegraph about the gold watch’s planned production run, Mr. Stern was clear as mud: “I will stop production before there are too many of them and the value goes down.”
What the hell does that mean?
Patek launched the Nautilus (code 3700 above) in 1976. Over the next 45 years, the company made . . . they ain’t saying how many.
We have no way of knowing how Patek’s proprietors determine what constitutes “too many” gold Nautili. Especially as the value of the previous Nautilus has never gone down – and Patek discontinued it anyway.
Speculation as to why the 5711 bit the dust and the 5811 arose Phoenix-like from the ashes – here on TTAW and above – remains rife. Speculation that Mr. Stern, Sphinx-like, refuses to address.
O.K. big guy, quick question: when might the 5811’s “value go down”? Given that a pre-owned 5711 is still worth 3X original retail, I’m thinking never. An opinion no doubt shared by beleaguered dealers and feverish customers.
WATCHPRO was visiting a Patek Philippe AD on the day after the 5811 dropped, and the teams’ phones had not stopped pinging with requests from long-standing customers; most of whom will never be able to buy the new Nautilus . . .
Before anybody feels too sorry for these authorized dealers, remember these unicorn watches will be reserved for only the biggest spending customers, who are likely to spend hundreds of thousands of pounds at their chosen stores on other watches and jewelry in order to stand a chance of getting a 5811.usa.watchpro.com
Did you catch the word “never” in there? Too right: the 5811 supply will mirror that of the 5711. It will never catch up with demand. In which case, Patek will never stop producing the 5811. Until they do.
Mr. Stern could have said something reassuring to frustrated 5811 customers. Instead he held a horological sword of Damocles over aspiring 5811 collectors’ collective head. Like this:
“Is it going to be 500 piece or 5,000? It is difficult to say. There is not an exact number, it is a feeling.”Thierry Stern
It’s no wonder Mr. Stern is less than charitable to his fanbase. He sees them as both under- and over-moneyed philistines. Ignorami who don’t understand the mystical art of high horology and, thus, don’t deserve a straight answer about, well, anything.
That, my friends, is cruel and unusual marketing. Mr Thierry’s obfuscatory remarks will do nothing to endear the watchmaker to aspiring 5811 buyers — and much to make them grovel.
Which is exactly how PP’s Prez likes it. In fact, he’s quite literally banking on it.
As Ferrari shareholders will tell you, limiting production of a luxury item well below demand, funneling it to rich VIPs and treating everyone else like sh*t is an excellent business strategy.
Perhaps Patek Philippe’s unofficial motto should go one better than Heckler & Koch’s. Patek Philippe: Because You Suck and We Hate You FOAD.