Patek Philippe and Tiffany & Co. celebrate 170 years
Updated: Dec 17, 2021
– and shocks the world of horology
It is OK if you think that the green dial 5711 Nautilus was the last 5711s. However, Thierry Stern, owner and president of the Swiss manufacturer, wanted to mark the 170th anniversary of their longtime partner and retailer Tiffany & Co. So… here it is. And no. You will not own it (I presume). Why? Because you are not one of the fortunate 169 preferred VIP clients at Tiffany & Co in New York (I presume).
But hey… didn’t I just write that 170 pieces were launched to mark the 170th anniversary of the partnership. Yes. I did. But Phillips Auctions (who else) received the very first one fresh out of the production line to offer on their Dec. 11 auction in New York. Offered with a VERY conservative estimate of $50.000, the Patek Philippe Nautilus ref. 5711/1A-018 with that distinct Tiffany-blue dial (no, it is not named after Tiffany To from Phillips Auctions) Bacs & Russo (once again) shocked the world when he hammered the anniversary timepiece at $ 6.5 million. No. You don’t need reading glasses. And no, I did not make a mistake indicating $ 6.5 million as the final result. Sure, the money will end in the pockets of a wonderful charity foundation, The Nature Conservancy, which means the winning bidder has all the tax deductions on his side. But once Back hammered this watch the world was not as much in awe as in shock. What. Just.Happened.To.Watchcollecting? And who in their right mind pays that much money for a watch? Personally, I saw nothing extraordinary in the launch. I mean, Patek Philippe has marked their relationship with Tiffany & Co several times already. And not one was a Nautilus. 2001 Refs. 5150R, 5150J & 5150G – 450 watches Launched in 2001 to celebrate the 150th year of partnership between the two companies, the Ref. 5150 Annual Calendar was the first limited edition created by Patek Philippe for a U.S. retailer. As a unique feature, the month indication was shown as a numeral. 450 watches were made: 150 in rose gold, 150 in yellow gold, and 150 in white gold. 2009 Refs. 4987G-001 & 4987G-010 – 100 watches Launched in 2009 on the first anniversary of the Patek Philippe Boutique at Tiffany & Co. on Fifth Avenue in New York, this art deco-inspired Gondolo ladies’ wristwatch featured a tonneau case and a guilloched dial decorated with a two-row diamond setting. Fifty watches with white and 50 with black dials were created. 2012 Refs. 4987G-001 & 4987G-010 – 50 watches Presented in 2012 on the fifth anniversary of the Patek Philippe Boutique at Tiffany & Co. on Fifth Avenue in New York (2013), this Gondolo ladies' wristwatch features art deco accents and a slightly cambered tonneau-shaped case with two rows of diamonds and large rhythmically arranged Roman numerals. Its edition was limited to 25 watches with a blue sunburst dial and 25 watches with a mother-of-pearl dial. 2012 Ref. 5396G-012 – 100 watches This white gold men’s watch with an Annual Calendar comes in a limited edition of 100 timepieces. It displays the day of the week and the month in a double apperture at 12 o'clock and has an analogue date at 6 o'clock. The back is graced with the engraved inscription “Patek Philippe – A Shared Vision – 2008- 2013 – that recalls the fifth anniversary of the Patek Philippe Boutique at Tiffany & Co. on Fifth Avenue. So….why a Nautilus in 2021? After the 5711 was discontinued earlier this year. And the green dial was supposedly the last of the 5711? I will leave this question here. But wait. There is more. When turning the watch around, the caseback indicates the anniversary with printed text on the see-through caseback. But look closely on the last “1” in “2021” and see those tiny four letters that reads “LVMH”.
LVMH purchased Tiffany & Co. for $15.8 billion in 2020. And yes, it was a lot of money. Which, we are all aware of, the Arnault family has plenty of. But the LVMH signature on the caseback is all about power to me. The Arnault family (that owns LVMH) is obviously the most powerful of all powerful families here. So why did Patek Philippe and the company's president and third-generation owner choose to write LVMH on the back of a Nautilus they made with Tiffany & Co.? A small article in Financial Times written by Nick Foulkes explained just why: “It was a nice surprise, a little gift to say Congratulations for your investment. You spent a lot of money buying Tiffany. We wish you all the best,” Foulkes quotes Thierry Stern on why LVMH is indicated on the caseback. Stern continues to talk warmly about the Arnault family in the article as he is also quoted: “But this is a good way to work together. They are a family business, too. Mr Arnault is working with his children and I like them, they’re nice kids. You do not have a lot of companies like that where the pressure is on the shoulders of the kids.” Even with the supporting quotes from Stern I still do not understand the need of indicating LVMH on the back. A friendly hand-written letter to the Arnault family would probably have been a way better idea. Or even better yet I’d personally have appreciated a ref. 5320G with a Tiffany blue dial.