Time for change: Patek Philippe's MD on UK's watch collectors
Mark Hearn, managing director of Patek Philippe UK, analyses the changing tastes of watch collectors in Britain
Luxury watch collectors and connoisseurs in the UK have been more attracted to complicated timepieces lately. I say that as our customers more and more are looking for complications in a watch. We believe it is because they know more about Patek Philippe via our events, factory visits, and articles, so they appreciate more the intricacies and innovation we bring when developing a new watch, not only in the movement but also in the dial and case.
Our Annual Calendar watches, a Patek Philippe patent from 1996, remain our most popular complication. The interesting fact is that, for the last 10 years, it hasn’t just been men who are looking for more complications, but also women who want to know more about what is inside a watch. Watches like the Ladies First Perpetual Calendar Ref. 7140 and the Ladies First Chronograph Ref. 7071, replaced now by the new Ref. 7150/250R, which has six patents, are good examples to illustrate our way of bringing innovation to ladies watches as they always add value in terms of precision and reliability.
People are also seeking higher quality timepieces. They want to buy products that are excellent but are also pieces that are rich in history. In this case, we at Patek Philippe are in a great position, as we produce outstanding timepieces with heritage. The demand for our watches keeps growing every year.
The most important point to highlight is that Patek Philippe does not follow trends. We work hard to have the most accurate and reliable watches in the world, to create the finest timepieces in the world, and we have been very successful in doing this. In Geneva we are always innovating and presenting a diverse collection, and have done so for so many years. That, more than anything, reflects who we are. We present innovative pieces with our traditional DNA. >>
When I joined in 2000 we were eight people, and now we have grown to more than 80. This is due to a combination of hard work, strong focus on customer service and personal relationships. Of course, that includes having an excellent team working all together. We always have a very open relationship with our clients and are always in contact with them via our events, our manufacture visits and also our visits to our retailers. Mr Thierry Stern, the president of Patek Philippe, is always travelling around the world to meet customers and listen to them.
When it comes to selecting the right pieces for the UK market from the international collection, we have our internal analysis tools and, because we have been working very closely with retailers with whom we have long- standing relationships, we can make a well-rounded judgement about the pieces that are perfect for each retailer and its clients. However generally the retailers get a good selection from the new collection.
In the future, I believe retailers will be more selective with the brands they carry and only work with companies who truly understand their business needs. We will continue to support our retailers, invest in training and ensure we provide all assets for them to do the best for the clients.