Watch Report: Good Sports

A surprising through line connects an inspired 1970s watch design to the vintage brooch worn to the Oscars by Timothée Chalamet.

Article by Luke Benedictus

Spot watches_1IWC Ingenieur Automatic 40, $17,300,

Widely hailed as the “Picasso of watches”, Gérald Genta is revered in horological circles. The late watch designer created timepieces for a broad range of brands from Cartier to Omega. His most celebrated styles were released in the 1970s, when he invented an entirely new category of watches literally overnight.

On April 10, 1970, Genta received an urgent phone call from Audemars Piguet’s managing director, Georges Golay. The watch executive needed a blueprint for a steel sports watch unlike anything that had been done before. Further cranking up the pressure, this game-changing concept had to be delivered the following morning.

Genta duly presented a radical design. The watch, which was eventually released in 1972, sat upon an integrated bracelet, a completely new form of strap that, rather than being attached by traditional lugs, was a seamless extension of the case. The creation was the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak and Genta had hit on an iconic design.

But he wasn’t finished with his innovation. In 1976, Genta revealed two new integrated-bracelet designs: the Patek Philippe Nautilus and a modern update to the IWC Ingenieur. Since then, consumer demand for integrated-bracelet sports watches has become insatiable, and virtually every luxury watchmaker offers an interpretation of the form.

Want to go high-end? You can choose between the Vacheron Constantin Overseas, Omega Constellation, Hublot Big Bang Integrated Tourbillon Full Carbon, Chopard Alpine Eagle, Cartier Santos de Cartier, Zenith Defy Skyline, Bulgari Octo Finissimo or Girard-Perregaux Laureato. Looking for something a little more affordable? You might consider the Tissot PRX, Tudor Royal or Maurice Lacroix Aikon.

Demand is particularly intense for Genta’s 1970s models. Realistically, you need to be a VIP customer or have very special connections to buy a Nautilus or Royal Oak at retail. When IWC decided to unveil an updated version of Genta’s Ingenieur this year, it felt like a no-brainer. So why did IWC wait so long? “We wanted to get it right,” explains Christian Knoop, the brand’s creative director. “We wanted to improve the bezel, the case proportions, the wearability and the finishing without compromising on the DNA. That took us five years.”

The labour of love has paid off. The reworked Ingenieur was released at the recent Watches and Wonders fair in Geneva, Switzerland, and earned widespread praise for its improved ergonomics, narrower strap and gridlike dial. The original reception for Genta’s Ingenieur was far more muted. “It was not a big success,” says Knoop of the 1976 watch. “It was a very futuristic design that was ahead of its time.”

The 1970s market was similarly baffled by the initial launch of Genta’s Royal Oak and Nautilus. All of which begs the question, what’s changed in the intervening years? And why is there such a mania for integrated-bracelet pieces today? Knoop suggests the shift is part of a broader societal trend. As sartorial codes have become progressively less formal, there’s been a move away from the dress watch with its sleek dial, slender case and minimal accoutrements. Meanwhile, demand for sports watches has rocketed. The industry definition of a sports watch is hazy at best, but it’s generally interpreted as a timepiece that offers decent water resistance and solid durability — less a watch to wear while playing sport than one that can navigate the recreational activities of daily life with minimal fuss.

“In recent years, there was a strong shift in the industry towards sports watches over classic and more traditional watches,” says Knoop. “That was reinforced also by the pandemic and people pairing their watches more with casual outfits, streetwear and sportswear.”

In addition, Knoop credits the cyclical nature of fashion, which has spun the spotlight back onto the decade that produced Genta’s original designs. “There is a bit of a revival of the ’70s,” he insists. “Right now, you have lots of movies and Netflix series that play in the ’70s, and the aesthetics and design objects of that era are very much in vogue.”

One final clue to the renewed popularity of integrated-bracelet watches lies in the name itself. Men are now more open to wearing jewellery than ever before. The market research company Euromonitor International reveals that demand for male jewellery has risen steadily since 2012. It’s a trend that’s increasingly visible on the celebrity circuit, whether it is Harry Styles’ pearl earring or Timothée Chalamet’s vintage Cartier brooches. These more conspicuous examples of progressive masculinity may be too outré for most men, but the trend may be playing out in a subtler form with watches.

When the Piaget Polo was released in 1979, the company’s chairman, Yves Piaget, stressed this exact crossover. “The entire Polo philosophy can be summed up in one sentence,” he insisted. “It’s a watch bracelet rather than a mere wristwatch.” Certainly, in the smartphone era, watches serve more as decorative accessory than as a functional necessity. Now, more than ever, it seems that a watch is the most acceptable form of jewellery for men.

New Books by Australian Authors to Look Out For

Unputdownable literary tomes from both new and established Australian authors to add to your reading lists.

Article by Jordan Turner

Photography by Ergita Sela.

With anticipated releases from veteran authors to mesmerising debut novels, there is so much to look forward to this year. Whether you’re here to scope out new releases for 2022, abide by your New Year’s resolution to read more, or find your next A Little Life, there is plenty to add to your reading list from authors on our very own soil.

“Australiana”, Yumna Kassab (Ultimo Press, March, 2022)

One small town, a multitude of stories woven together by Yumna’s unique storytelling that is less like a short story collection and more a layered novel. Detailed characters and stories come alive amidst a never-ending drought where secrets hide, violence simmers, and the friction of class separations are inescapable. “Australiana” is poetic, wise and peppered with black humour.

“Ten Steps To Nanette”, Hannah Gadsby (Allen & Unwin, March, 2022)

The equal parts harrowing and hilarious memoir from Australian comedian Hannah Gadsby. She transformed comedy with her show Nanette and now ushers us through the definitive moments in her life that birthed the show with emotional honesty. As she says herself: “There is nothing stronger than a broken woman who has rebuilt herself”.

“The Bookseller At The End Of The World”, Ruth Shaw (Allen & Unwin, March, 2022)

At times funny and others heartbreaking, this is a memoir of a bookseller who runs two tiny bookstores in the deep south of New Zealand. You will find stories of characters who have visited Ruth’s stores, her musings on life and books, and some unpredictable adventures she’s undertaken in her life. This is a book that will make you want to read more.

“A Solitary Walk On The Moon”, Hilde Hinton (Hachette, April, 2022)

Hilde Hinton, the bestselling author of “The Loudness of Unsaid Things”, returns with a joyous new novel that gives us insight into the lives of people we pass on the street. It is written with enough power to break, only then to mend, our hearts with wisdom and unforgettable characters — a novel for those who would call Eleanor Oliphant and Olive Kitteridge a friend.

“No Hard Feelings”, Genevieve Novak (Harper Collins, April, 2022)

Hailed as the ultimate binge-reading novel, written with sly wit, Genevieve Novak’s debut heralds a new voice in contemporary Australian fiction. The story centres around Penny, who is stuck in a metaphoric limbo, waiting for her on-again-off-again boyfriend, a promised promotion, and for her “real-life” to start. A story where “Fleabag” meets “Sorrow and Bliss” with a dash of Dolly Alderton.

“All Mixed Up”, Jason Om (Harper Collins, April, 2022)

Jason Om was 12 when he witnessed his mother die of a heart attack and blamed himself for her death. Insert a “mixed-up” family made up of parents and siblings from all over the world with different religious beliefs and strong personalities. So begins this candid and heartfelt memoir about trauma, identity and acceptance, yet above it all, it is a celebration of authenticity, difference, and love.

“The Uncaged Sky”, Kylie Moore-Gilbert (Ultimo Press, April, 2022)

In 2018, a British-Australian academic was falsely charged with espionage. This is the true story of Kylie Moore-GIlbert’s great battle to survive 804 days imprisoned in Iran. “The Uncaged Sky” is a visceral account of survival, courage, resilience, hope, and what it means to be free.

“Killer Thinking”, Tim Duggan (Pantera Press, May, 2022)

From the author of “Cult Status” comes the only guide you’ll need for creating, developing and recognising ideas that will change the way you work and live forever. Tim Duggan looks at creativity as being the key to killer ideas and shows you how to master its skill.

“Scrubbed”, Dr. Nikki Stamp (Allen & Unwin, May, 2022)

A raw and real memoir from one of Australia’s leading cardiothoracic surgeons, Dr Nikki Stamp. It overflows with breakthroughs and breakdowns as the realities of surgical training and the sacrifices needed to reach the pinnacle of this career is revealed. Filled with the honesty of “This Is Going To Hurt” and the beauty of “When Breath Becomes Air”.

“Enclave”, Claire G. Coleman (Hachette, July, 2022)

A powerful novel that explores a future of surveillance, disruption, control and segregation, which is delivered in the tradition of Margaret Atwood, Naomi Alderman and George Orwell. Enclave is a novel for fans of dystopian fiction, from the critically acclaimed author of “Terra Nullius” and “The Old Lie”.

“Pomegranate and Fig”, Zaheda Ghani (Hachette, June, 2022)

An evocative and beautifully written debut novel that takes us from Afghanistan to India and Australia. It is about tradition, family and the double-edged sword of hope and sorrow that a new country will bring from the disruption and tragedy of war and displacement on families.

“Against Disappearance”, Liminal & Pantera Press (Pantera Press, August, 2022)

A collection of new essays from First Nations writers and writers of colour who bend boundaries, call on the past and envision new futures. These pieces talk about the intricacies of trans becoming, talk to the acts of violence on stateless peoples, tradition, politics and place. Each essay asks questions and shares stories for those who have been diminished or ignored in the writing of history.

“The Devastating Fever”, Sophie Cunningham (Ultimo Press, September, 2022)

Alice, a writer, is stuck in the middle of a plague and finds herself trapped with the ghosts of writers past. This is a wry, relevant and witty literary novel about writers and their creative struggles in the 21st century. If you loved “The Museum of Modern Love” and “The Strays”, this is for you.

“Marshmallow”, Victoria Hannan (Hachette, September, 2022)

An unforgettable novel that follows five friends who are dealing with a shocking death. It delves into the impact of grief on love and friendships and how it interconnects with class, gender, race and sexuality. From the author of Victorian Premier’s Literary Award winning novel, “Kokomo”, Victoria Hannah returns with a powerful exploration of the human condition.

This Valentine’s Day, Omega Proves That Romance isn’t Dead

A celebratory new watch channels the spirit of romance with strategic use of one particular stone, aventurine.

Article by Luke Benedictus

The Context

In 1969, Richard Burton handed Elizabeth Taylor one of the most famous pearls in the world for Valentine’s Day. Weighing a preposterous 50.96 carats and measuring 25.5mm long, it was called “La Peregrina” and was originally bought by Spain’s King Philip II as a wedding present for Queen Mary I of England. At auction, Burton had to beat off competition from the Spanish Royal family, eventually buying the drop-shaped pearl for £25,700 — a sum amounting to about £375,000 today (or $711,660AUD).

I mention this because Valentine’s Day invariably gets a bad rap. To be fair, it is an easy target, due to being apparently designed in a money-grabbing conspiracy by Hallmark greeting cards, restaurants with prix-fixe menus, and smug couples flaunting over-zealous displays of affection for their Instagram frenemies. Things tend to operate rather differently in the real world. There, Valentine’s Day most common expression is often a tired bunch of cellophane-wrapped flowers, plucked from a petrol station forecourt at the last possible minute.

Yet as Burton demonstrated, Valentine’s Day is still capable of inspiring acts of head-spinning extravagance. And perhaps more of this may be going on than we think. Omega, for example, tell us that they are “exploring the unique dimensions of the deepest human emotion” by releasing a special watch to tie in with February 14. The Omega Constellation Aventurine costs a not inconsiderable $20,300. But the fact that one of the world’s greatest watch brands would launch a new timepiece for Valentine’s Day suggests that a market is potentially there.

The Hardware

Not surprisingly, a watch that channels the spirit romance makes strategic use of one particular colour. The dial is made of Aventurine, a natural quartz gemstone that comes in a range of hues and is distinguished by its wondrous shimmering quality as it catches the light. The colour here is an intense red with a heady depth that’s matched by the red leather strap.

Out of this fiery backdrop, blaze the diamond hour markers with more sparklers embedded into the bezel. Cranking up the opulence, the watch’s hands, logo and hour marker settings are hewn in 18K Sedna gold, Omega’s proprietary rose-gold alloy that maintains its lustre over time and whose subtle pink glow here complements the red. The 29mm case is made from a mix of Sedna gold and stainless-steel, the latter helping to anchor the visual pyrotechnics and provide a base for the more dramatic elements to shine.

There’s a lot for the eye to admire here, but thankfully Omega have applied the same painstaking care to the internals. For years, many brands attitude to women’s watches was essentially shrink it, pink it, smother it in diamonds and don’t worry about a mechanical movement. The patronising implication was that women only cared about the superficial appearance, not what literally made the watch tick. That’s absolutely not the case here. This watch is powered by Omega’s Calibre 8700, a self-winding movement with Co-Axial escapement that’s been approved by METAS to Certified Master Chronometer status.  Visible through the domed sapphire crystal caseback, it’s the watch world’s equivalent to a Ferrari engine.

The Verdict

As romantic acts go, the Omega Constellation Aventurine is certainly a grand gesture. It’s a gorgeous timepiece that pairs head-turning looks with superlative mechanical performance. My only note of caution to anyone genuinely considering this watch as a Valentine’s Day gift is that on the day I went on Omega’s Australian website a week before February 14, there was a “waiting list” for the watch. If you’re an ardent lovebird ready to splash the cash, maybe have a back-up plan so you’re not scrambling for the last bunch of petrol-station flowers.

Just Add Water: Cordials Put to the Test

Forget the green stuff of your youth, today’s tipples are adult affairs spiked with ginger, bitters and the like.

Article by Besha Rodell

Shrubs and kombucha have their place, but this summer, T Australia’s food critic, Besha Rodell, will be reaching for the cordial. Photography by Katherine Sousa.

I cannot remember the last time I drank proper old-school cordial, but I can recall the flavour in extreme detail. In many ways, cordial is the taste of my childhood, a staple of Australian summers, along with Icy Poles and Paddle Pops. But when I moved to the United States, there was none — America has popsicles, but cordial is not common there. (Children are much more likely to drink “soda”, that sugary concoction I was not allowed as a child.)

Cordial has lost its hold on Australian consumers in recent years, but a few companies are bucking the trend and bringing new products to market — ones that are more likely to appeal to gourmet-minded shoppers.

I wouldn’t go so far as to call any of the cordials in this taste test healthy — by definition, cordial is sugar syrup — but many boast far more natural ingredients than the orange or raspberry versions of yesteryear. In fact, with their adult flavours, a few of these have made wonderful additions to my home bar, mixing extremely well with gin, vodka and even whisky.

Yarra Valley Apple & Ginger Cordial

My absolute favourite flavour back in the day was apple, so I was particularly excited to try this apple and ginger cordial. Composed of almost 50 per cent juice, it’s a cloudy concoction that was a bit tepid when mixed with tap water, but it came alive when I used soda water. The spiciness of the ginger balances the overall sweetness nicely, but I found the best use for it was a hot toddy made with Irish whisky. I usually make my toddies with some sort of tea and honey, but this replaced both of those elements and the fruity apple gave it a lovely autumnal aroma. $11,

Alchemy Heat Cordial

Alchemy makes several cordials, including a Love version that tastes of rose petals and lime, and one that tastes of honeydew melon. But the Heat cordial — infused with lemon and chilli — is the strangest and was the company’s original flavour. I was hoping for something that might pair well with tequila or mescal, perhaps enhance a spicy margarita, but I found this one a tad medicinal. It is definitely spicy, enough that I’d caution parents to keep it away from spice-averse children — though if your kids, like mine, love fiery food, they may just love this as well. $15.40,

Stir Crazy Tangelo & Grapefruit Bitters

By far my favourite of the bunch, this cordial is made with fresh fruit by an ex-chef named Helen Kline. Many of the cordials I tasted bordered on being too sweet, but this one allows the citrus notes to sing and isn’t the least bit cloying. Mixed with sparkling water, it reminded me of Sanpellegrino Limonata: refreshing and balanced with just the right hint of bitterness. It was fantastic mixed with gin and soda water, too. Side note: Stir Crazy offers free delivery in metro Melbourne and on Victoria’s Surf Coast for orders over $45. I ordered only one bottle and paid the $20 shipping charge, but they got in touch to say they felt bad I’d paid so much for such a small order and offered to bring it to me, throwing in an extra bottle of cordial to make up for the shipping cost. Now that’s service! $15,

Roar Passion Power Cordial

Roar makes six varieties, all with raw sugar and natural ingredients, including a pineapple cordial and one that tastes like plum pudding. The passionfruit and lime flavour was the most like an old-fashioned cordial of all those I tried: unabashedly sweet, it’s more like a lolly than the fruit it’s made from. I wished for a bit more pure passionfruit and a bit less jammy-ness, but a drop or two in some soda water, or as an ingredient in a tiki drink, goes a mighty long way. $12.95,

Ashbolt Elderflower No Added Sugar Concentrate

This is the one cordial I found that has no added sugar whatsoever — the sweetness comes from grape juice concentrate. The brand does offer a more traditional cordial made with sugar, but I actually prefer this one. As you might expect, the flavour is a little more adult than the other cordials I tasted, and the addition of apple cider vinegar delivers an acidic counterbalance to the natural sweetness — if you like kombucha, you’ll probably like this. The elderflower element is subtle but recognisable, like a waft of perfume. I found this a lovely addition to tap water and will have fun playing with it at my home bar. $16,

The Luxury Watch Proving Quality and Quantity Aren’t Mutually Exclusive

Commemorating the 55th birthday of Grand Seiko’s trademark GS case, the SLGH009 shows the brand’s commitment to detail.

Article by Luke Benedictus

The Grand Seiko SLGH009 55th Anniversary Limited Edition deserves its moment in the spotlight. Photography courtesy of Grand Seiko.

There can be a downside to being a non-stop whirlwind of super productivity. Sure, you may nail your daily to-do list, ensure your inbox hovers close to zero and even succeed in only forgetting your partner’s birthday very occasionally.  The problem is that if over-achievement is your default setting, then specific accomplishments may not always get the recognition they deserve.

Grand Seiko could be in danger of succumbing to exactly this fate. In the first month of this year, they have already released seven brand new watches. Bear in mind, too, that at the end of March, the brand will also be appearing at Watches and Wonders, a glamorous trade show in Geneva where many of the world’s top brands jostle for attention as they unveil their new timepieces for the year amid much horological hoopla. In other words, despite exploding out of the gates with terrifying energy, Grand Seiko is actually just warming up.

Such formidable output can mean that certain timepieces get overlooked due to their sheer flurry of hyperactivity. But sometimes you need to stop for a moment of appreciation. And the Grand Seiko SLGH009 55th Anniversary Limited Edition deserves its moment in the spotlight.

The historic case design of the GS is combined here with cutting-edge mechanics. Photography courtesy of Grand Seiko.

The hardware

Last year, Great Seiko released the SLGH007, a platinum-cased watch with mesmerising swirls etched into its black dial. This was a genuine showstopper of a watch. The only snag was that its palpable quality was reflected by its $88,000 price tag.

The SLGH009 offers a more realistic alternative for those of us with tiresome things like mortgages, children and responsibilities. Its midnight-blue dial presents a similar textured effect with its gentle curves delivering a pleasing contrast against the sharp edges of the hour and minute hands. Out of this inky backdrop the gold-tone seconds hand positively gleams.

The watch commemorates the 55th birthday of Grand Seiko’s trademark GS case that has become a towering benchmark of the brand’s design language with its highly reflective polished surfaces, wide facets, sharp angles and masterful finishing. The 40mm case of this piece is made of Ever-Brilliant Steel, Grand Seiko’s in-house material that is purportedly the most corrosion-resistant form of steel in the world. Aesthetically, this metal is distinguished by a whiteish tinge that further highlights the dark charm of the dial.

The historic case design of the GS is combined here with some of Grand Seiko’s most cutting-edge mechanics. Under the bonnet, the SLGH009 is powered by the Hi-Beat 36000 Calibre 9SA5 movement, whose slim form belies its formidable durability, accuracy and 80-hour power reserve. Thankfully, this mechanical feat is on full display courtesy of a sapphire-crystal caseback that reveals beautifully finished bridges with undulating curves – apparently inspired by the Shizukuishi River that winds close to the Grand Seiko studio.

The verdict

Grand Seiko’s productivity levels may be utterly relentless, but this watch betrays absolutely no sign of any shortcut. Instead every aspect of the SLGH009 shows the brand’s almost pathological attention to detail.  Available in a limited edition run of 550 pieces for the price of $15,695, this is a watch that is certain to be snapped up fast. By which time Grand Seiko will have no doubt moved on to their next blitzkrieg of head-turning releases.

Watch Report: The Legacy Conundrum

While many watch brands have flagship models that shine above all others, some are at pains to discourage trademark timepieces.

Article by Luke Benedictus

See below for credits.

Ironically for an industry with a vested interest in hours, minutes and seconds, watch brands have a deep fascination with timelessness. The holy grail for any watchmaker is to dream up a model that never goes out of style yet is identifiable with the merest flash of the wrist. And while a distinctive aesthetic is valuable for brand recognition and all- round cachet, a truly classic design has the versatility to be adapted in different directions without — and this is the really tricky part — losing its soul.

In 2021, for example, Jaeger-LeCoultre’s Reverso celebrated its 90th birthday. The original timepiece came about in 1931 when British polo players in India requested a watch that could be protected from damage amid the galloping hooves and flying mallets. The solution was the Reverso’s trademark swivelling case that could flip around to shield the face. It’s fair to say the market for this specific purpose would have been decidedly niche. Thankfully for Jaeger-LeCoultre, the Reverso has since inspired multiple incarnations.

“Very quickly,” says the company’s CEO, Catherine Rénier, “the Reverso became a timepiece not only for polo players, it turned into an icon of design and creativity with a lot of colour dials and models that were not just masculine, but also feminine.”

Over the past year alone, the rectangular Art Deco design has been the vehicle for the fiendishly high complications of the Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso Hybris Mechanica Calibre 185 Quadriptyque, a watch with four (!) functional dials that required 12 new patents. At the same time, the Reverso Tribute Small Seconds was released in a range of eye-catching colours, each coming with a matching calfskin strap made by a polo bootmaker in a nod to the watch’s origin story.

In yet another limited edition run, the watch provided the backdrop for the artistic feats of the Reverso Tribute Enamel Hidden Treasures, a trio of watches released to showcase Jaeger-LeCoultre’s artisanal skills with enamel and miniature painting. Such chameleonic flair has guaranteed the Reverso’s relevance for nine decades. “With its blank surface, the Reverso very quickly became a canvas for personalisation,” Rénier says.

Other watch designs have gained iconic status in horological circles less for their flexibility than for their singular looks. Since the TAG Heuer Monaco first gained fame as the watch on Steve McQueen’s wrist in “Le Mans”, it has been freshened up with a variety of colours, materials and tie-ins. Whatever the guise, however, the chronograph’s retro- futuristic visage is unmistakeable. The Monaco may have launched more than 50 years ago, but there’s no midlife crisis here — this square- cased watch will never lose its edge.

Some watches are considered legacy pieces for their trailblazing feats. The Omega Speedmaster, for example, will forever be associated with being the first watch on the moon. The Audemars Piguet Royal Oak was a celebrated frontrunner for very different reasons. On the night before 1971’s Basel Fair, Audemars Piguet’s managing director purportedly asked Gerald Genta, a freelance watch designer, to create “an unprecedented steel watch”. By the next morning, Genta had sketched out the prototype for the Royal Oak, the first watch with an integrated bracelet to provide a seamless connection with the case.

In fact, whether it’s IWC’s Big Pilot or Chanel’s ceramic J12, many watch brands have one unofficial hero piece, a flagship model they’re implicitly associated with and whose halo effect beams onto the rest of their collection. But not everyone is so enamoured with that idea.

On paper, Patek Philippe’s Nautilus seems like the ultimate legacy piece. Designed by Genta (again) in 1976, it enjoyed a steady growth in sales until its popularity exploded in the past decade as the craze for steel sports watches took off. Yet in early 2021, Patek Philippe caused uproar when the company president, Thierry Stern, announced that the brand was going to discontinue production of the modern Nautilus (Ref. 5711).

To most onlookers, this seemed like a kamikaze decision, the equivalent of Hermès ditching the Birkin bag. The Nautilus 5711 was, after all, arguably the hottest watch on the planet. How hot? Well, prospective buyers already faced a waiting list of about a decade to get their hands on one. Prices on the secondary market had become so demented that, in July, the 5711’s final olive-dial iteration (RRP: $49,350) sold at a Monaco auction for $637,984. In short, the Nautilus was the watch world’s version of the goose that lays golden eggs. With yolks made of 24-carat diamonds.

So why was Stern killing this model, a watch that 45 years after its creation was still inspiring boggle-eyed lust? His decision ultimately stemmed from a different interpretation of legacy — one that hinged on something greater than one pan-generational watch. Stern was painfully aware that the hype around this one timepiece was growing exponentially and starting to overshadow Patek’s image as a whole. “There has been so much noise around this Nautilus. My God,” Stern told The New York Times. “We cannot put a single watch on top of our pyramid.”

The dangerous thing about any object that becomes too fashionable is that the pendulum can swing and it can go out of style. Stern therefore believed that it was in Patek’s long-term interest to try to spread consumer demand more evenly across the brand’s range of 140 models, thereby engineering a more stable return. The iconic Nautilus became the fall guy of this diversification policy.

This big-picture vision perhaps makes more sense in the context of the dynamic that’s baked into Patek’s very core. The brand’s famous tagline is, of course: “You never actually own a Patek Philippe. You merely look after it for the next generation.” Stern was brought up with this idea of passing the torch. Ultimately, Patek is a family business, of which Stern took the reins in 2009 when his father, Philippe, handed over control. In this household, the heirlooms aren’t the watches. They pass down the entire company instead.

Discontinuing the Nautilus was therefore a decision entirely based on the notion of legacy and putting long-term security over short-term gain. “I am protecting the company for the future, for my children,” Stern explained. “They have to learn, just as my father taught me: when you have a fantastic brand like Patek, you have to protect the brand and not just one product.”


Image Credits: Top row, from left: Omega Speedmaster Professional, $9,575; TAG Heuer Monaco, $9,200; and Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso Tribute Blue Small Seconds, $12,600. Centre row, from left: Cartier Tank, $19,400; Patek Philippe Nautilus, $49,350 (discontinued); Chanel J12 Calibre 12.2 Edition 1, $17,650; and IWC Big Pilot’s Watch 43, $12,600. Bottom row, from left: Hublot Classic Fusion Titanium, $10,800; Audemars Piguet Royal Oak 34mm Black Ceramic, $70,100; Longines Lindbergh Hour Angle, $7,225; and Rolex Day-Date 40mm, $51,550.