Imagine a movie script about a watch collector. Immersing yourself as the protagonist, you’re a young and ambitious watch enthusiast starting out both in terms of your career, and your journey in watch collecting.
Your first serious purchase is a watch of which you have long dreamed, the Cartier Tank. You win it at auction but it takes 6 months for you to pay for it by instalments and the up-market auction company is none too impressed.
Then one day browsing in a shop window you discover the Patek Philippe Ref 3970 Perpetual Calendar Chronograph and you quickly become obsessed with all things Patek Philippe. Your Damascene moment has arrived and you have seen the horological light.
A chance meeting
One night you attend a Parisian cocktail party. Looking around you recognise the man standing alone not far from you. It’s Thierry Stern, the President of Patek Philippe. Mustering all your courage, you approach him and start to talk about your favourite topic. It goes so well he personally invites you to Geneva to learn first-hand about this most sought after of watch brands.
Your career starts to rise meteorically and with more money comes more highly collectable Pateks. You start to acquire with an unbridled passion; rare Calatravas from as early as the 1930s, hard to get Patek Philippe Nautiluses, every series of the Reference 2499, the Reference 1518, the Reference 130 and some highly sought-after enamel-dialled watches including the “Lighthouse” and “Island” pieces from the 1950s, taking as your guide the wise words of your new found friend Thierry Stern.
In fact, this is not a script, all the aforementioned events really did happen, and the man who owns these Patek Philippe rarities and many other watches besides is Patrick Getreide. He’s a 68-year old Brussels based businessman who is having an exhibition of his large collection of ultra-rare watches at London’s Design Museum on December 10th.
It’s an exceptional opportunity to gain a peek into what one auctioneer has described as being among the top five collections worldwide. There is also an exhibition within an exhibition for two of the hottest areas for collectors: steel Rolex sports watches and independent watchmakers.
Patrick was helped mightily along the way by one Geoffroy Ader, an independent watch adviser and auctioneer who has assisted him with this and other exhibitions all around the world.
Meanwhile, back in the real world
While most of us don’t have the means to acquire even one Patek Philippe, there is still much joy and excitement to be had from a watch collecting career at just about any level. We all have to start somewhere, and many a worthy collection has started with a simple search on eBay.
Since its launch in 1995 eBay has probably learnt as much as Monsieur Gertreide about how watches are bought and sold. Experience has seen the introduction of key programs that help with financial security, authenticity and peace of mind.
eBay Authenticity Guarantee and Escrow Payment Service
This is eBay’s service verifying that the luxury watch you are purchasing is in fact authentic and exactly as listed. This service is available for watches retailing for $2,000 and above in the U.S.
And for watches over $10,000 in value, eBay introduced an escrow payment option in partnership with Escrow.com, where the funds are held securely until the transaction is complete providing an additional level of protection.
Yes, eBay has, it even has the Patek 3970 up for auction, the watch that launched Monsieur Gertreide’s irrepressible passion for Patek watches. There are several high-end brands that are regularly offered on the marketplace.
But even if a Patek is just an unattainable dream, there are thousands of other styles and brands on eBay to suit every budget.
Here’s our pick of some exciting luxury watches to get you started with a dream watch collection just in time for the holidays.
The Oyster Perpetual Explorer II White Dial is equipped with an additional 24-hour display; a dedicated hand circles the dial in 24 hours rather than the usual 12, pointing to a fixed bezel with 24 hour graduations. This pre-owned Rolex is in excellent condition.
A self-winding automatic in a 44mm white ceramic case. Features a light silver Mega Tapiserrie dial on a brand new white rubber strap with a titanium tang buckle. Functions include hours, minutes, small seconds, date, chronograph and tachymeter.
This 41mm new model for 2021 is stainless steel on a calfskin strap with a stainless steel tang buckle, automatic in-house IWC caliber 89361 movement, 68-hour power reserve, green dial with white Arabic numerals hour markers, date, day, 12-hour chronograph, small seconds at 6 o’clock.
This stunning 20 something year old 38mm tourbillon watch from Vacheron Constantin looks as crisp and clean as the day it was made. The watch runs on the exquisite VC 1760 caliber of which only 300 were released. A certain number of these movements were cased in yellow gold or platinum and launched as part of their “Complications” collection in the reference 30050. The tourbillon cage was designed in the shape of a Maltese Cross – the emblem of Vacheron Constantin since 1780.
The watch that ignited Monsieur Getreide’s passion for all things Patek. This near mint pre-owned mens’ Patek Philippe Perpetual Calendar Chronograph features 18k yellow gold case with silver dial, Day, Date, Month, Moonphase.
First on show at Baselworld 2008, this remarkable Seiko watch was first used in October 2008 when the private space adventurer, Richard Garriott, took it into space on his mission to the International Space Station (ISS). This mint watch runs on a Caliber 5R86 Spring Drive chronometer movement with 72 hours power reserve. One of only 100 made.