A manufacturer will consider lots of things to arrive at the price of his goods and services since not only does he want to cover all the costs of production but also have a good profit margin to keep him in business. However, some of the prices we hear of these commodities are just ridiculous, and you have to ask yourself why a watch should set you back millions of dollars when with an amount significantly less you can have a wristwatch serving the same purpose. Well, that is where you are mistaken; like in "Animal Farm" where some animals are more equal than others, some watches are more equal than others. Owning a Patek Philippe watch is like an investment because it's such a high-end piece, and one of their slogans makes it clear by saying that even when you buy one of their watches, you are not actually owning it but merely acting as a custodian for the next generation. Such a statement reminds you of holding a title deed to a piece of land which you want to pass down to your future generations. If the land does not come at a low price, what more of a timepiece that has existed for over 50 years? That said, have you ever heard of the Patek Philippe Reference 1527 that was auctioned for $5.7 million in 2010? If not, here is your chance to learn more about it and the reason for the high price.
The making of Patek Philippe Reference 1527
During the Second World War, specifically between 1943 and 1944, as the Allies and Axis Powers went to war, one company in Switzerland was busy making its history. Patek Philippe had already outdone himself in 1933 by creating the most complicated watch in the world with his bare hands, for Henry Graves. Like anyone passionate about what they do one success does not obscure their vision of wanting always to remain ahead of the game so Patek did not slow down but instead went ahead to begin creating a timepiece that would forever remain relevant in the company through its design.
While not much has been discovered about this watch, what we have gathered so far is that it was one of two Ref. 1527 watches. During the Great Depression, two men, Jean Stern, and Charles Stern acquired Patek Philippe, which became a joint-stock company in 1901. Charles then commissioned a Reference 1527, and this one has not yet been sold; it remains in Switzerland in the Patek Philippe museum. The second Ref. 1527 became even more special because it featured a chronograph mechanism that the first watch did not have. Besides being a chronograph wristwatch, other features include a tonneau-shaped case, date and moon phases, and elongated and slightly curved lugs. The watch registers time through the 30 minutes register, three subsidiary dials for constant seconds while the outer rim has a tachymeter scale and five-minute division. As for the dial, the manufacturer applied a silver-matte while the numerals are in gold Arabic. The lever movement is Cal.13''' and nickel-finished whereas its dial measures 37.6 mm in diameter. It has a snap on back, bimetallic compensation balance and in the band are two chronograph buttons, rectangular-shaped.
Why fetch such a high price?
No matter how good something is, you still have to convince someone that it is worth every penny; otherwise, a customer will walk away and buy a competing product. This logic also applies to the Patek Philippe watches which the cheapest go for tens of thousands of dollars; still a considerably high price for the ordinary citizen. The Patek Phillipe Reference 1527 was sold for $5, 708,885, making it the most expensive watch by Patek Philippe to be sold on auction, at the time. Some of the reasons given for the astronomical price include:
The time it was made
In most countries, those people who helped fight for freedom or survived some of the greatest wars are regarded as heroes and treated as such. Take, for instance, the Holocaust survivors who would have been murdered all because of their religion. Similarly, this particular watch happened to be produced at a time when everyone was wondering if they would survive to see the light of another day since the world war was at its worst. Old they say is gold, but when it comes with history attached to it, then you have to admit then the high price was expected.
In economics, one of the things that push up the price of a product is its low supply relative to its demand. For instance, in dry areas where water is a scarce commodity, anyone who has a borehole sells it at extremely high prices. Money has four functions and among them is the fact that it is a store of value. This piece was listed for auction almost thirty years ago when it became available for sale, and it ended up being locked away until its auction in 2010. Consequently, with time, the watch continued to appreciate. When Patek Philippe made the first watch, there were not as many features as the second one which also became the last of its kind to be made. The watch had managed to maintain its value such that even when it was sold, it had to fetch such a high price because there has never been any other of its kind since then.
Diamonds, gold, and other precious metals have never gone out style, and people have killed to lay their hands on them. The ref. 1527 watch has 23 jewels in its construction while the buckle is made from 18 carats of gold.
The Henry Graves Supercomplication took three years to design by Patek Philippe in 1933, and although we do not know how long this ref. 1527 took, it must have given the designer sleepless nights. However, it was not for nothing because the design became the basis for the other watches made later on, which we have come to appreciate today. A design that has been in use for more than 70 years must of course then be appreciated in full.
Written by Dana Hanson
Read more posts by Dana Hanson