Partaking of a Heirloom Called Philippe: The Patek Nautilus 5712R Watch
From No Watch to A Watch
I went without a wrist watch for many years and during my stint in Geneva in 2008, i discovered the Patek Philippe museum while strolling the streets with my camera. Believe it or not, prior to this, i had no clue about who they were. The artistry and detail they carried in showcasing their watches was astounding and I decided that day that i wanted to own a Patek. However, i wasn’t ready financially and emotionally at that time to own one. This was also in in 2008 when the Global Financial Crisis swept through the world. I was cautious. Even though the stock market was melting down, many chinese tourists were lining up at the Rolex boutiques to get their Submariners and Daytonas!
Wearable Art and Portable Wealth
I wanted a watch that i liked and retained value. This posed a dilemma to me because what i thought was beautiful suffered huge depreciation while what retained value didn’t appeal to me. The photographer in me made me drawn to aesthetics and craftsmanship. If investment value was the only factor, i wouldn’t be “investing” in watches.
When it comes to value retention, two brands are usually mentioned. Patek and Rolex. Both are privately owned watch companies. To me, the Rolex Crown symbolises mastery in producing quality watches and successfully marketing them to the world. It is still one of the world’s greatest companies and buying their watches is another way of buying a share in the company. However, Rolex didn’t appeal to me as a first watch at that time. I was not drawn to their aesthetics. Even though now, i have grown to like some of their watches.
Currently, Rolex and Patek steel sports watches reign supreme in value retention. If i were somewhere and have lost all my belongings, i am confident that i can walk into a second hand retailer to exchange my Rolex Daytona for cash to get back home! It is wealth on your wrist that can be transported across borders.
As mentioned earlier, i was drawn to Patek’s artistry and history. They have mastered the skill of packing many complications into slim cases. To me, Patek watches are a work of art you can wear and admire while you are out and about.
A close friend of mine who has invested into a watch fund told me that Rolex and Patek are commercial brands and asked me to buy something that is independent, rare and complicated. A complication in a watch refers to a feature that is aside to just telling time.
That may be true if you have an eye for finding specific models and even then, one must be prepared to pay ridiculous prices. He also mentioned that simple watches that just tell the time do not retain value compared to complicated watches. My observation has shown that this is not always true. Value retention is a function of supply and demand. For example, the simple Patek Philippe 5711 Nautilus Steel watch is trading at a significant premium to its retail price while a gold complicated perpetual calendar will take a price hit when you walk out of the store.
Patek Philippe Nautilus 5712R - The James Bond Watch
While going through the internet one day i chanced upon the Patek Philippe Nautilus 5712R. The Nautilus range in Patek was quite strong in retaining value. But I wasn’t too sure about the 5712R because i have not seen it in its metal and doubted if it fit my personality. Was it too blingy? I asked my friend for his opinion and he mentioned that it looks like a type of watch that James Bond would want to wear! The eccentric sub dials reminds me of dashboard indicators in a car. The 5712R has a moon phase and power reserve indicator which are simple complications in a watch. The moon phase interested me since i was into astronomy. The power reserve indicator is a useful complication which shows how many more hours you have for the watch to power down. The watch was powered by the excellent Cal 240 movement which has a micro rotor to ensure automatic winding through wrist movement.
A Leap of Faith
It took me seven years after my trip to Geneva to make the decision to walk into the AD (Authorized Distributor) at Raffles Hotel in Singapore to place my interest for the 5712R. I was also financially and emotionally ready. As expected, the watch was not in the store. I had to get my name on the list and was told every year there may only be two or three pieces. Four months later, i got a call from the AD that the watch was in! I was excited and immediately went to the store to try it. I must say that the Patek 5712R appealed to me instantly. The warm rose gold and brown tones of the dial and strap blended with my dark skin tone very well. The 5712R suited me more than the 5711.
Now, it is almost impossible to find ANY Nautilus model at the AD regardless of steel or gold. Looking back, i should have just pulled out my credit card to buy that blue dial steel Patek Philippe 5711 Nautilus i found during a casual stroll into the Patek boutique at Marina Bay Sands Singapore in 2015!
I think most people would feel uneasy on wearing an expensive watch on a daily basis. But why buy something if you can’t enjoy it.
I have been wearing my 5712R on a daily basis, nicely tucked under my long sleeve shirt. Yes, i do take public transport and i can almost confirm that most people don’t know what it is even if i were to roll up my sleeves. The long sleeves help to protect the watch against scuffs. i also have to take extra care in my arm movement in crowded places to make sure my arm doesn’t knock into others or into a glass door. Gold, unlike steel, is soft and extra care is required. If i was wearing a short sleeve shirt, i wouldn’t wear the 5712R.
When i am feeling down, i admire the artistry in the dial of the watch which makes me happy. It is wearable art after all. After four years of wearing the 5712R, i can say with confidence that i am not tired of it. Experiences and material goods can coexist. And wearing the Patek is an experience surely. The smooth winding of the watch and the view of the well crafted Cal. 240 movement makes me realise why Patek is so special.
To anyone looking for a watch to buy, buy what you like. However, don't forget value retention. Over the past few years, the scarcity of all Nautilus watch models have gone so low that the 5712R is trading at a premium. The steel 5711 is trading at an even higher premium! So, on hindsight, it wasn’t a bad choice for value retention. I preferred Gold over Steel and bought what i liked. I don’t think i will be selling it anytime soon despite the advice from my friends to SELL. I don’t subscribe passing the watch onto the next generation but i am looking forward to experiencing it fully as long as I and the watch last.
© 2019 Sivakumar Sathiamoorthy