By now we are all too familiar with the current state of the mid to high range luxury watch world. Abysmally empty Rolex cases can be found in nearly every Authorized Dealer location across the country, waitlists are miles long, and people are starting to get a little frustrated. Long gone are the days you could just walk in and buy the watch you wanted. In fact, if you don’t already have a strong (and financial) relationship with your AD, you’re pretty much out of luck. Rolex watches that cost 5 grand at retail are selling for over 20 grand on the second hand market every day. Things are really truly insane at the moment, but this story might just take the cake.
Watches & Wonders presented so many great new additions to the world this year, one of the most coveted being the Patek Philippe Nautilus in Olive Green (ref. 5711/1A-014). It was stunning, it was green, and it was essentially unattainable. So it came as a pretty big surprise for us when we saw that one of these exact watches were up for sale at Antiquorum’s Auction at the Monte Carlo Hotel in Monaco today.
Not only was the watch up for auction, but it was also factory sealed which is really rare and not something that usually happens when you get a new watch, Patek or otherwise. This certainly raised a lot of questions from experienced watch collectors who know the drill.
Surrounding the factory-sealed Nautilus was the serial number and even, shockingly a person’s name: Gregory Pau. We have to assume Gregory Pau is a pseudonym much like when celebrities check in as "Fred Flinstone" at hotels, because there is no way “Gregory” would ever put his real name on this watch right? Certainly he’d be blacklisted for life or lose his/her status with his Patek AD and making a quick (albeit massive) buck isn’t worth it, right?
So what did the Patek Philippe Nautilus 5711 in Olive Green sell for?
According to the Antiquorum website, the Patek Philippe Nautilus watch in olive green sold for approximately $471,000 USD (not including the 15-20% buyers premium) which in total is more than ten times its MSRP. Wow. This watch, not even one year old at this point, just sold for nearly a half of a million dollars. On the official auction website it is listed as sold for 400,000 EURO, in Lot 152. Varying sources estimate this total slightly higher or lower, but either way it's a record price for a Patek Philippe Nautilus 5711.
When researching this story, we came across a lot of thought-provoking questions asked by writers and collectors. Here are some we came across for you to ponder: Was this just Patek doing a great publicity stunt by selling and buying back their own watch? Who is Gregory Pau and is he blacklisted for life? Is this Patek even real and was it authenticated before the sale? What is happening to the watch industry and where can it go from here (Keep going up? Crash?) Is this current watch scarcity/market sustainable? Why are some people so greedy? What AD let this happen? Are a few unethical ADs taking kickbacks? What’s the consequence for this? How did this person get their watch “factory sealed?” Is the watch even worth a half a million dollars? Who is to blame for this frenzy?
This story is still breaking and although we are left with more questions than answers, one thing for sure is that the price of $471,000 USD for a Patek Philippe Nautilus 5711 is just absolutely insane. But on the other hand, this whole situation really shines a light on who is hurt in all of this scarcity and frenzy. Mostly it’s the average watch loving folk like us who truly appreciate a beautiful timepiece. We never buy watches to make a buck, we buy them to wear, to enjoy, to make accessories for, to pass down to our children. We love the experience of buying a watch at retail, in a store. We love the ability to purchase a watch on the spot to commemorate an achievement or milestone in life. I guess in a way, this “Gregory Pau” person certainly achieved something here today, but at whose detriment?
So what is causing all of this? Many people point blame at the brands, some say social media is to blame, others claim it’s the gray market dealers and ultimately, greed. In conclusion we will end with a quote from Watch Collecting Lifestyle that stuck with us. The author wrote, “The way I see it, this frenzy, created by Instagram and fueled by the respective brands, literally adding fuel to the fire will have to come to a correction sometime soon before many of us just decided to move away from this lovely hobby.”
What are your thoughts? Is this current market scarcity and frenzy enough to steer you away from the hobby? Or does this fuel your fire even more? Let us know in the comments!
Want to laugh about the current watch Scarcity instead of cry? We collected some brilliant watch memes about the topic here.
©All Images from Antiquorum. Learn more here.