Here's the thing - we aren't talking about just any half-baked nouveau hipster brand here, we are talking about The crown-less king: Patek. Scratch that: PATEK. Scratch that: PATEK PHILIPPE. Or 'PP'. Whatever is your jam, no judgement. They are not just part of the "Holy Trinity" but the crown jewel, the show stopper, of the bunch. The one that never gets questioned if it belongs. This isn't Carreras or Domingo. No, no. This is the Pavarotti of the trio. Patek Philippe is not just considered to be one of, if not the best, big brand it is considered one of the finest watch making houses. Period. Patek, or the perception of Patek isn't just about meeting what "haute de gamme" is but defining it. And they have the chops to back that up. Not only is Patek the maker of some of the most finely crafted watches ever conceived (look at a 3939 or 5959) they are also the maker of some of the most complicated watches ever created (look at the, albeit gaudy, 6300 and 5175). So good are they that the silly little Geneva Seal from the 1880's - you know, literally the quality seal of the Watchmaking School of Geneva with a legal definition - means nothing to them; They invented their own "Patek Seal". Which you, the Patek collector, always point out and refer too. You only wish you could pronounce "Poinçon de Genève" to really make your friends feel small.
A fun fact, Nintendo also has their own "Seal Of Quality" for their plastic game cartridges. I'm just putting that out there....
So why does one spend an eye-watering amount of money on a PATEK? It isn't specs. I don't know the RRP of this watch but I am certain it is well in line with Patek pricing, that is to say, very dear. So why buy, nay, invest in a Patek when "for the money" you can get something more accurate, has better water resistance, a longer power reserve, mores feature and so on? You do not buy a PATEK for practicality. You buy a PATEK because you are a connoisseur. No, scratch that, YOU are an aficionado of finely crafted time pieces. You appreciate the artistry, the time and effort, the utter skill and care that goes into making your very special Time Piece. After all, you are member of SEVERAL watch forums: you know your stuff. You are a curator of fine "objet d'art". Nothing but the very best can slip past your finely honed senses. Are you discerning? Puh-lease, of course! And Patek knows their custo... Clientele. And they are leveraging that knowledge to sell you cheap shi... stuff.
Did you know that the famed "PATEK SEAL" came out around the same time they ramped up production? Hunh. They take a more "wholistic" look at the watch with the seal. Sounds good, right? Well they snuck a few things in there, or rather omitted a few things when they left the Geneva Seal in favour of their own brew. Now, I KNOW you've read the standards for a Geneva Seal, but just for the other folks who don't know there is one that is kind of a big deal (here it is paraphrased):
Polished chamfers: The top edges of every plate or bridge must be chamfered and polished. No requirements are made for how they are to be chamfered or polished, which technically would allow for machine-chamfered edges that are polished manually afterward.
This is not part of the Patek Seal. It was removed, among other finishing standards, and replaced with things like, "We will service the watch forever, for a price." This allowed Patek to offer dramatically lower finishing standards on their less expensive offerings because they can leave machine marks and don't have to remove them. That's just what it means. Let's have a look:
Note the marching marks on the inside circumference of the winding weight. That's not decoration, it's sloppy.
Still not convinced? What about this famous image:
If you look at nearly any good maco shot of an entry level Patek, this is what you will find... Over and over again.
But the "over all" watch is now part of the Patek seal, so it's gotta be to the good? Well, it's to the same standard.
I'mm a just gunna leave 'dis here... More Horomariobro.
But that's old news. What about this new "Clous De Paris" Ref 6119? Let's have a look at the over all design of the movement:
What's missing from this "haute de gamme" watch with a "haute de gamme" price? Haute de gamme technique (and you thought I was going to say finishing: we can't see the finishing from a 3d render). There is something that this movement SCREAMS out for. It was clearly built for it. You can see there was some watch maker who poured his heart and soul into designing a beautiful movement only to be cut off at the ankles by management. I can see it now:
Management: "Moisssure Watchmaker, ve vant to make de new mooovement fur de vatch, ja?"
Watch Maker: "JA! 'Ere is minen master creation!"
Management: "Ja, ve can build it, but ve don't vant to spend a lot of money..."
(Well my French accent sucks but whatchagunnado.)
I see at least five, probably eight, places that were meant to have interior angles. That's right folks, the sexy thing everyone is talking about. I said it.
Love it or hate it, this is what good looks like:
Bradly Taylor's Paragon.
Note the four deep interior angles.
Now lets look again at the Patek see what I like to call the "field of missed opportunity and broken dreams"
Five were meant to be, 8 were possible.
Why are they rounded? Because it's cheaper to make them is way. Period. Full stop. It isn't a debate or question. They literally cut the corners.
I wonder what the people who said that the Brady Taylor was "over priced" call this Patek, then? Robbery, perhaps?
"But Paul! You are comparing a little boutique brand that made 12 Paragons, how can you compare that to a big brand. It's not apples to apples! This is a totally unfair biased comparison!! I can't believe you would do this, it really is a cop out of an answer!!!"
Okay, okay, just hold your wad there sailor. Who would you consider Patek's competition in that case? Breguet? Vacheron Constantin, perhaps? One is owned by Swatch, the other by Richmont. Are those big enough brands for you? Don't bother answering that - it doesn't get much bigger than these two. Yes, that is as apples to apples as it gets.
So if you were spending similar money - Well, actually less money in both cases, but who's counting and lets throw PP some help - And we were looking at these two brands what might we consider? I know! A Breguet 5177 and VC Traditionnelle. Like, duh, man. So obvious. I know you knew that.
The Ref.82172/000G-9383 with Ca. 440AS:
And 5177 with Cal. 777Q:
All 3 watches are 18k white gold. All three are time only. The Breguet has an solid gold, hand turned dial, but let's ignore that little upgrade.
You see that on the VC? Right in the middle:
Yeah, baby!! An interior angle. A shallow one unlike Bradly's incredibly deep ones, but it's there.
And now a close up of the Breguet:
The Naked Watchmaker.
Yes. Two. And fantastic polishing, I might add, that is hand done.
Now, I know I said I didn't look at RRP's but I will now (all in USD):
The Vacheron: $20,600
The Breguet: $23,700
And the measurably inferior Patek? $29,570.
So where did the money go? It's not on finishing. It's not on difficult to make interior angles. So where? Shhhhhh.... I'll tell you where. You know the old saying, "If you have to ask..." Well Patek does. And they know their customer won't ask. They know that their customer will walk in, wearing their colourfully loud button up shirt, stinking of Fuente Fuente smoke, plop their flamboyant Ferrari fob on the counter and be served an espresso. They know that the salesmen will show the customer the watch and have to say very little as our watch shopping friend looks over the 6119, squinting his loup-free 62 year old eyes and proclaims with some gristle in his voice, "Oh, that finishing is the best. Paddok really is the best, bud. This is a hard to get watch, right?" And after about as long as he lasted the first time he was with a woman, he plops down a platinum or black or whatever is the more 'prestigious' colour of plastic card on the counter, it clacks around from the momentum and that's the end of his investigation into his new $30,000 watch.
After he leaves "his AD", he tosses the box under the car seat and proceeds to forget that he left it there for the next 6 months, which is, by the way, when he sells it this watch to make room for another. So much for looking after it for the next generation... Which is okay because his kids, now in their 20's don't really talk to their dad much, anyway.
So that's why I see this as a slap in the face to real watch lovers. Information about watch making is sparse and hard to come by for the average person. So we trust in brands to deliver on our hopes (and their marketing). You want the "best" and are willing to give away your hard earned money? Patek will be the first in line to tell you that they are the best. So you trust, and pay. But you've been had.
All of this is, of course, IMHO, YMMV and those other funny things to just to say, "no offence"...