The OAK Collection – A Lesson in EclecticismBy Ross Povey
Patrick Getreide has spent the past four decades amassing a collection of over 480 watches, both pocket and wrist examples. Far from being a mishmash of brands and references, the collection has been curated to represent the ‘best in class’ of some of the most important and iconic watches ever made. Where possible, each piece is a special order, unique piece or has some fascinating provenance.
“As soon as I had achieved a moderate level of success, I began to buy watches at prices I could afford,” Getreide explains. “Gradually, that amount increased and, little by little, the watches became better and the passion for collecting them became stronger. Perhaps strangely, I never thought of the financial aspect or that values might rise — but, thankfully, I seem to have bought the right ones at the right time.”
The headline brand in the collection is, unsurprisingly, Patek Philippe. The exhibition is split into 11 sections, six of which are dedicated to Patek. A good number of the pieces were made as unique bespoke commissions for Getreide, who is always very particular about working closely with Patek to realize his dreams. The OAK Collection houses the largest selection of watches that were owned by the legendary Henry Graves Jr. outside of the Patek Philippe Museum. Of the 39 pieces that Graves commissioned, it is believed that 30 still exist, with Patek owning 13 and the OAK Collection containing five.
Vintage Pateks also feature very strongly, with pieces owned by famous collectors such as Eric Clapton and actor Jean-Paul Belmondo. One area of Patek collecting close to Getreide’s heart is the Calatrava. The exhibition will showcase 20 Calatravas — 12 vintage pieces, four modern pieces and three unique pieces. The stars of this section are, according to Getreide, “the unique Reference 530A in steel with a black dial; the only known Reference 570J, an unusually large, gold-cased Calatrava with a black dial and indirect center seconds; and the Reference 570R in pink gold with matching, two-tone rose dial and indirect center seconds. Add to that the unique Reference 1504 in steel with black dial and pink gold indexes, and you have ‘The Fantastic Four’ — all truly ‘one-of-a-kind’ and all with Breguet numerals”.
Other Patek highlights are sections dedicated to chronographs, perpetual calendars and complications, the Nautilus, rare handcrafts and world-timers. The Nautilus section comprises 16 examples, three of which are early Reference 3700’s. One of these watches is a very unique, special-request example with a quartz movement. Going back to the complications, there are six vintage perpetual-calendar chronographs, including a unique Reference 1518R ‘pink-on-pink’ with a pink gold case and pink dial; another reference 1518 that was one of just six made with large Arabic numerals; and a unique first-series Reference 2499J with a ‘champagne’ dial.
The other heavily featured brand is Rolex, with a number of incredible pieces. There is an 11-piece strong GMT-Master section that features early no-crown-guard examples of the first GMT model, the reference 6542. Each watch is in virtually as-new condition, which is always a rare treat for vintage Rolex fans. There is also a Rolex Sports category with some stunning rare pieces, including a Red Sub, an Explorer II and the exceedingly scarce Comex-issued reference 1680 Submariner Date, one of the rarest Comex Rolex watches made.
The Rolex Chronographs section houses pre-Daytonas alongside vintage manual-wind Daytonas and more modern Daytona Perpetuals. A Paul Newman-dial Daytona owned by NASA astronaut Walter Cunningham, who piloted the Apollo 7 lunar module, sits alongside an FAP Daytona that was issued to the Fuerza Aérea del Perú, the Peruvian Air Force. More modern examples include a yellow gold Zenith-powered reference 16528 and an unworn in-house movement 116506 in platinum. ulvinar dapibus leo.
One of the hottest watch trends of these times is independent watchmaking and Getreide is certainly no stranger to these modern marvels. The two most featured indies are François-Paul Journe and the Kari Voutilainen. The highlights of the F.P. Journe pieces are the so-called ‘Ruthenium set’, which comprises a Chronomètre à Resonance, an Octa Calendrier, a
Tourbillon Souverain, an Octa Chronographe and an Octa Réserve de Marche Jour et Nuit. These pieces date to 2002 and have ruthenium-plated brass movements; they are from the era when Journe was first coming to prominence. There are also five Voutilainen pieces, including the unique piece the watchmaker made for the 2015 Only Watch auction, the steel-cased GMT-6 watch.
The OAK Collection exhibition opens at The Design Museum in Kensington, London, on May 19 and runs until May 25. It will then travel on to the Bahrain National Museum, Shaikh Hamad Causeway, Manama, China and the USA.