Unless you were on a Lent-induced social media black out, I’m guessing most people saw the news on social media and a number of blogs that Patek Philippe had announced that it was making some significant changes to its archive extracts service. For many years now, it has been possible to acquire an extract from Patek’s archive that stretches back to 1839. Supplying the venerable brand with serial number, pictures and CHF150 would result in an extract detailing the exact configuration in which the watch left the factory. Details of dial type, manufacture and sale dates, movement number and type and even the strap detail is documented. These extract were an essential part of any serious Patek sale be it from a dealer or auction house. Then a couple of weeks ago, everything changed…
It was announced that from now on, no extract would be provided for watches manufactured from 1990 onwards and only one extract would be provided per watch every five years. The price was also announced to be increasing to CHF 500, but that was no big deal. The news created a certain amount of upset amongst the watch community. During today’s press conference about the brand’s new releases for 2021, I asked Thierry Stern if he could share his thoughts about this move. His answer was both candid and honest and will be a surprise to those who possibly misunderstood his rationale.
“To be clear, I’m not here to help people who are reselling our watches on the secondary market and who want to protect the name of the end client whose name is on the official certificate”, he stated. “This is why I was thinking of doing it. It’s important that I protect my clients and Patek Philippe. I’ve been working on this all my life, as has my father, and this I will continue to do”. He then asked the question, “Was it wise to add so many years to this new system? This is the question that we are still to ask ourselves toady. We will still do it, but I think we will reduce the number of years”.
Thierry Stern went on, “I have discussed this with my dad, which is important as he has a lot of experience, and I accept that maybe I was wrong and went too far (in terms of the cut-off date). So I will now maybe reduce the number of years.” This is exciting news and will certainly allay the fears that many have voiced.
The new proposal will possibly be a rolling ten-year cut-off. Currently it is five years and so we could see a doubling to ten. However, Stern was clear that it was something that he was still discussing. He added, “Yes, maybe a made a mistake and for that I’m sorry. But the spirit and the will behind it was for the best.” He was resolute though that any changes in the market were not the reason for the change. There are no promises being made, but the father and son are rethinking their tactics in a move that is sure to be hugely popular this time!
In closing he commented, “We are not willing to let down all the collectors out there. This is not something I will do. But, I would also like to stop all the parallel business that has been abusing our system, which is equally unfair on our clients”. So there it is. An honest and reflective view on the recent announcement that gives the decision some context and also highlights how important the collecting community is to the Sterns. Bravo!