- Apr 11, 2016
- Reaction score
I think its interesting to see how the availability changes based upon location. The AD I've been popping my head around over the past couple of months is certainly within commute distance from NYC and had a decent number of Pateks on my last visit a couple of weeks ago including an Elipse, a 5196, a pair of 5227s, a 5396, a 5327, and a 5390 and a handful of ladies models that I'm not familiar with (they are undergoing a pretty big renovation, so working in a consolidated space and I believe the Patek case was set up for 12 or 16 watches total).I actually dropped by Watches of Switzerland at Hudson Yards yesterday with my family to get out of the heat.
First of all, I am such proud dada. Upon entering the store, my 5-year-old daughter pointed at the Patek and Rolex signs and exclaimed: “They have Patek watches and also Rolex! Let’s look at Patek first!”
There were very few Pateks to look at. Obviously, there were no Nautilus or Aquanaut models, but also nothing else other than a few ladies watches. No Calatravas, no smaller complications (annual calendars, travel time, etc.), nothing. Ninety percent of the display slots were empty. This was true last time I was at Wempe in midtown and the Soho Watches of Switzerland as well. Point is, Pateks in general are running scarce.
The Rolex section was even more ridiculous. All slots were empty except for TWO watches, including a 34mm rose gold Datejust. I don’t remember the other, but it was also a smaller ladies model.
Every other brand’s display area was fully-loaded (e.g. Vacheron, Omega, IWC, JLC, etc.). They had like six Speedmaster moon watches ready for purchase, including a couple of the outgoing version.
In some ways, this is to be expected. Perhaps, the broader watch consumer market is simply catching up to more serious collectors, who began heavily consolidating their collections on Patek and Rolex about ~10 years ago. Before then, it was more common for enthusiasts to dabble across the different makers. These days, it’s Patek, Rolex, independents, or you’re a beginner.
Will this change? For reasons discussed before, Patek and Rolex have unique appeal to collectors. The other brands from Richemont and LVMH tend to feel a lot more anonymous and luxury consumerist oriented. Hard to put a finger on exactly why, but one key element is that their marketing tends to feel a lot more forced and their watches feel a lot more influenced by marketing. In contrast, Patek and Rolex exude somewhat of a “we don’t give a fuck what you want” attitude. This reflects their conservativism and reinforces an aura of permanence.
In short, increasingly few people have concentrated collections of watches from the likes of IWC or JLC or even Lange. People who buy those watches tend to be more casual about collecting or will never buy more than one or two. Anecdotally, most of my friends and co-workers who have nice watches from such brands tend to have only that single watch, aren’t serious enthusiasts, and usually bought it because they saw an ad or think the brand is “cool”.
Given the underlying drivers, the current trend toward market bifurcation may be more secular than cyclical, unfortunately.
Their Rolex set up had 2 or 3 entire cases at the front of the store and probably 2 ladies models available in the whole thing. The SA mentioned that they were tripling their Rolex case foot print in the renovation, to which I asked 'what's the point if the cases are just going to continue to be empty?' and he then talked about how the size of your Rolex display played into your allocations