Pragnell managing director Charlie Pragnell on why Patek Philippe is standing the test of time
Prestige jeweller Pragnell's London boutique recently hosted the world's largest collection of Patek Philippe watches
Jewellery and watch boutique Pragnell certainly has the Midas touch when it comes to prestige timepieces. The Stratford-upon-Avon-based retailer, founded in 1947 by Queen Mary's jeweller George Pragnell, has a rich heritage in the British jewellery trade, as the owner of jewellers including Philip Antrobus of Bond Street – best known for creating the Queen Elizabeth's engagement ring – as well as holding Patek Philippe's most successful retail partnership for almost 50 years.
The partnership between Pragnell and the luxury watch house is a testament to both brands' ethos of exclusivity and craftsmanship. In 2004, Patek Philippe manufactured a limited edition series of five pieces to honour Pragnell's 50th anniversary – including a Pragnell Patek Philippe Minute Repeater that recently sold at Christie's Hong Kong for $575,340 (£390,000).
Only this month, Pragnell's newest boutique in London's Mount Street exhibited the world's largest collection of Patek Philippe's 2018 catalogue, bringing together the brand's most exclusive timepieces in one retailer for the first time. The exhibition, which featured nearly 100 men's and ladies' watches, included new models of ranges such as the Calatrava, Aquanaut, Nautilus and Twenty-4, as well as 10 brand new watches revealed at this year's Baselworld. >>
"We have a wonderful, longstanding partnership with Patek Philippe, and so we were delighted to exhibit the 2018 collection in store," said Charlie Pragnell, the brand's managing director and grandson of its founder George. "Usually we might only see two or three cases of items, but here we have six cases – it's quite something to see the collections in full here."
New models exhibited in the store include the Ref. 5205G-013, a men’s white gold Annual Calendar watch with two-tone dial and luminescent three-facetted Dauphine hands, and the Ref. 5524R-001, a rose gold variation of the Calatrava Pilot Travel Time with brown dial, luminous coated numerals and orange ‘1’ of the analog date on the subsidiary dial at six o’clock. A ladies version, the Ref. 7234R, is also available among a wider collection of unique chronograph watches for women.
"With every new collection of Patek Philippe watches, there are the immediate hits – such as Nautilus. Any Nautilus model is hard for our clients to get," Pragnell told Tempus. "The design of the watch hasn't really deviated from the original 1976 model, though it's a little more waterproof and the case is slightly bigger. The watch itself is a high complication, with a perpetual calendar and classic case design. People are on waiting lists for this watch because it is so remarkable." >>
"We also have the new Aquanaut, featuring an unusual and quite beautiful orange accented dial and strap that is almost outlandish for Patek." Outside of these classic two watches, however, Pragnell says that each new collection has what his colleagues refer to as 'sleeper' collectibles – timepieces that make perfect investments.
"The Ref. 5170 is my pick. The hour markers are actually little baguette diamonds, but it's so understated in that classic Patek style. White metals and blue dials is a stunning trend, just as rose gold metals and chocolate dials always increase in value. Patek is one of the pioneers of these timeless colour combinations," said Pragnell.
"I'm also very impressed with the new variations of the Calatrava Pilot's Watch, particularly the ladies' Ref. 7234R. While it has many classic elements, it's very different in style for Patek, and not what you'd expect to see. Being something new for the brand, it's gone down a storm and I'm certain it will only increase in value in years to come."