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Patrick Getreide: “Patek knows how to keep a customer happy”

Timothy Barber
April 15, 2024
2 min

“My first serious watch was a Cartier Tank, when I was about 21. I won a 50-1 bet in a horse race, and the next day I took my winnings to Cartier. I didn’t know who Patek Philippe were, or even Rolex, but the Cartier Tank was the most chic watch for a gentleman. But then it started. Little by little, I started to collect brands like Jaeger-leCoultre, Ebel, Universal and Zenith, and many more.”

“My first Patek Philippe was a 3970 perpetual calendar in gold. It was 30 years ago, and I had to pay in instalments, which the store manager in Paris didn’t like – he never sold me another watch. Eventually I met Thierry Stern [now president of Patek Philippe] who told me to come to Geneva instead. Since then, Geneva is where I get my Patek Philippe watches, and I still wear a 3970: it’s a platinum version on a special fabric strap for swimming with it.”

“The philosophy of my collection is: only new watches, even if it’s vintage. If it’s been polished, I don’t want it – it has to be as new. I have a lot of people looking for me, and they give marks out of 10 for the dial, the movement and the case. If they find something, I’ll send an expert that I trust to have a look. And if it’s true, we’ll buy. I believe that a watch is art. I see a watch I like, it’s like I’m 20 years old again. I get this fantastic emotion, I get goosebumps. I don’t get that from anything else. There’s no explanation, it’s just passion. I don’t think much about value. If I see a watch that I like, I’ll buy it.”

“I have a little private museum in Geneva for my watches. I don’t have a home there because it’s too boring, but it’s where my watches are, because it’s where the experts are. There are 600 watches, and they all work: we wind them and test them a few times a year.”

Patek Philippe Ref. 530A (One of a kind) © Patrick Getreide

“I have the best Calatrava collection in the world. I have 10 one-of-a-kind Calatravas, and broke the world record with one of them, a 530A in steel with a black lacquer dial and Breguet numerals, when I bought it a few years ago [the watch, dated to 1941, hammered at Philips in 2016 for £1.03 million]. Patek Philippe has made me around 30 one-of-a-kind watches.

"For instance, I have a 5320 perpetual calendar in steel, with a black dial and Breguet numerals [the production 5320 is in white gold with a cream dial]. It was a surprise, because for 20 years they didn’t do a one-of-a- kind perpetual calendar watch for a customer. But they know how to keep a customer happy. Of course they see that I’m passionate: I buy as much as I can, and I also buy as much vintage as I do new. Everything from Patek Philippe is exceptional, and the people are fantastic also.”