Qualities In Desirable Watches
When it comes to best of the best in the watch world, watch collectors have a certain set of criteria that must be satisfied in order to make the watch desirable. At this level, the most basic necessity would be an in-house movement; furthermore, an in-house movement which is beautifully decorated and serves as a treat to the eye. Hand finishing and little details go very far in differentiating a superior watch from an inferior piece.
Next on this list of must-haves would be the use of precious materials and application of these materials. Anybody can make a gold watch, but using a warmly colored rose gold case which pairs with a properly matched dial is not easy. Decisions like these take more time to execute, which in time can result in higher production costs. The dial of a watch, for me, is the most important part of all. An average watch, with a machine stamped dial, and no character is somewhat like a poor photograph of a potentially beautiful landscape. A watch, however, with a meticulously handcrafted dial, composing of hand painted numerals and engravings is the original painting which not only perfectly captures the “beautiful landscape,” but also possesses some character of the artist himself. Dials like these come to life in the sun, and seductively hide themselves at night. This is the difference between a work of art, and a mass produced item lacking soul.
Combination of Desirable Elements
These watches are not cheap, but they are definitely worthy of the price they command. Most widely regarded as the best manufacture in the world, Patek Philippe offers some of the most simply elegant pieces, as well as the most complicated. Take, for example the Calatrava 5116R. To the untrained eye, this is just a standard time only dress watch that looks nice, but may not otherwise be too impressive. This all changes when one begins to look a little more closely. What begins to set this watch apart from your uncle’s dress watch is the word written below the six o’clock numeral; “EMAIL”. French for enamel, this represents a generations old art form preformed by generations of special artists who dedicate their lives in the search for absolute perfection. Working with enamel is extremely difficult. The dial of this watch is 100% fabricated by hand and the roman numerals as well, are painted by hand. Looking over the watch further, you’ll find the warm tone of the 18k rose gold case compliments the milky dial extraordinarily well; this was not an accident. Inside, the watch boasts Patek’s 215 PS hand wound movement which can be found in other models as well. This movement was developed, manufactured, assembled, and decorated in house. It is attention like this that separates the mass luxury Mercedes from the more exclusive Rolls-Royce.
This is a special sort of stratosphere where luxury, or more specifically, exclusive luxury reigns king. It’s a place where the best of the best can be found and it does not get any better. Or does it? I do not believe that the quality can be improvement much further, if at all, from Patek; but can it become even more exclusive? This, I believe, is the final frontier of high end watch making. Finding a brand that encompasses all of these qualities, that is still uncompromisingly beautiful, and that is truly exclusive is the next big thing. At this level it would be less of a brand, and more of an atelier, or maison. It would have to produce a very limited number of pieces per year, more specifically, less than one thousand pieces per year. For the world.
In considering these requirements, there is one name that comes to my mind first: F.P. Journe. This is the only brand whose name is that of the founder, and of which the founder is still the head watchmaker, and president. It does not get any more personal than this. In a recent meeting with our Journe brand representative I learned some interesting facts about the man himself. For Francois-Paul, his watches are his everything. They are his dream; and his quest for producing the perfect timepiece has driven him to the forefront of haute horlogerie where all other watchmakers aspire to be. Our brand rep told us that Journe lives his life by the three W’s. First, obviously, are his watches. Then, depending on the time of day, are wine and women. Every penny he earns is reinvested into his brand. He does not own a car, or a house. He resides primarily onsite and is not persuaded by large offers from investors to purchase a stake in what he has built. He produces roughly 800 watches per year, and no watch leaves the factory until it is perfectly ready for sale. He does things at his own pace to ensure they are done right. Furthermore, the attention to detail with his pieces is second to none. Pieces like his Black Label Centigraphe have a movement composed entirely of solid 18k gold. In addition to being wonderfully decorated and well built, it is a true gift to the eyes of the wearer. The dial features numerals who themselves, are made of gold. The level of detailing is taken to a whole new level.
This is what sets Journe apart. It is not the most expensive piece ever made, but it is one of the most exclusive. This is what collecting is all about.