Commiserations to watch lovers the world over. The Patek Philippe Nautilus ref. 5711 has been reborn, transforming what was already one of the most sought-after timepieces globally into a true grail, courtesy of Tiffany & Co. Stunningly crafted and instantly recognisable, the new Tiffany Blue Patek Philippe 5711 is a limited-edition release that has fans at fever pitch, but it’s not all good news. In fact, according to Patek Phillipe president Thierry Stern, its release marks one ‘big problem’.
The announcement marks a perfect storm of collector interest and scarcity. News that the iconic ref. 5711 was being discontinued dominated watch industry discussions throughout the year, prompting those who could get their hands on the much-loved pieces to buy up at all costs, quite literally. Back in July, Antiquorum sold a green dial ref. 5711 for a whopping €320,000, more than 10 times the retail value. Even NFT versions of the classic watch, which was originally launched back in 2006 have sold at record rates, so it makes sense that a new ultra-limited variation would garner some serious appeal. But this isn’t just a victory lap from Patek Philippe.
Produced exclusively for the American jeweller, the new Tiffany Blue Patek Philippe 5711 speaks to the illustrious relationship the two iconic brands have shared. Limited to just 170 pieces worldwide, the new watch marks the 170th anniversary of the working relationship. The agreement was sparked in 1851 Charles Lewis Tiffany and Antoine Norbert de Patek teamed up at a time when both companies were still in their infancy. The agreement has changed hands many times, most notably with the Stern family’s purchase of the watchmaker in 1932, followed up by the USD$16.2 billion acquisition of Tiffany by LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton. Flash-forward over a century and the partnership is still going strong.
Back in 2008, Tiffany’s flagship Fifth Avenue became the site of Patek’s first US boutique and holds the esteemed honour of being the only retailer globally that is allowed permitted to ‘double sign’ the dials of the Patek pieces. That’s where the latest iteration comes in.
The 5711/1A-018 features a stunning Tiffany blue dial – ‘double signed’ with Tiffany’s own branding, along with the classic black hands and hour markers. Flip the new timepiece over and you’ll note the sapphire crystal caseback has been printed with an honourary marker of the relationship, stating ‘Tiffany & Co – Patek Philippe 170th Anniversary 1851 – 2021’.
Priced at a modest USD$52,635 (AUD$75,000), the pieces are a little bit pricier than the standard ref. 5711, but then again, you won’t be able to get one. The allocation is slim and in all likelihood, is already exhausted, which Patek Phillipe president Thierry Stern confirmed was going to prove an interesting predicament.
According to The New York Times, Stern said he wanted to signal to Tiffany that “you have been doing a good job,” particularly in light of the LVMH sale. But even that doesn’t guarantee employees a shot at the new Tiffany Blue Patek Philippe 5711. Turns out the biggest problem for Patek Philippe’s new Tiffany Nautilus is figuring out who gets one.
“I’m not sure it’s a gift for them,” he said. “It may be a big problem. They may not realize how difficult it’s going to be to choose the clients.”
Understatement of the year? Perhaps, but Stern knows exactly what he’s doing. Playing up scarcity is an industry special, topped only by the lure of something unknown. Naturally, the Patek Philippe president is also delivering a bit of sector secrecy. The executive confirmed that in addition to being incredibly hard to get, the 170th Anniversary 1851-2021 Tiffany & Co. — Patek Philippe also includes a hidden surprise. Just what that could be is anyone’s guess.
“I’m very curious to see how long it’s going to take people to discover that there is a secret on every piece,” he told The New York Times. “It’s fun; it’s not commercial. And only a family business can do that.”