Patek Philippe prowls the Internet looking for flippers

Nautilus 5711.

Patek Philippe president Thierry Stern has said in more than one interview over the past 12 months that he has intention of increasing the supply of the brand’s most in-demand watches to take the heat out of prices on the secondary market.

He will, however, take action if one the company’s authorised dealers is found to be feeding watches to known ‘flippers’ that are buying watches at retail prices and selling them at vast profits through sites like Chrono24.


In an interview with Robin Swithinbank for the New York Times, Mr Stern reveals that Patek Philippe’s greatest concern is not so much the imbalance between supply and demand for watches like the steel Nautilus and Aquanaut, but rather that customers get the full experience of buying and owning one of his watches by purchasing through authorised dealers.

“We buy back a lot of watches every year from the secondary market, because we want to know why a watch is for sale,” Mr Stern tells the New York Times.

Serial numbers allow the company to know which authorised dealer initially sold the watch, although it is more difficult to prove that the flipper and store are splitting a profit when a watch is resold.

“Maybe sometimes the retailers are part of it. If I have the proof, then I act,” Mr Stern warns.

Losing a Patek Philippe agency would be so damaging to an authorised dealer that it is highly unlikely the owner of the business would be involved. In addition, these owners go to considerable lengths to ensure that no members of staff are lured into cooperating with flippers.

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  1. You couldn’t make it up. Who, anywhere in the world, would look at a piece of stainless steel that tells the time and compare to a potential £25000 profit over retail and reconcile with not flipping it.
    It is the arrogance of the Swiss that could think it is the fault of the AD or the flipper.
    Make some more watches for a while and you deal with it. End of. You cannot punish an AD or member of the public for what could be the single largest profit they may ever make in their lifetimes.
    What a waste of energy trying to control market forces when you are the manufacture and can easily affect it by stop making calatravas and make a load of Nautiluses for a year or so then you can control it.

  2. “…rather that customers get the full experience of buying and owning one of his watches by purchasing through authorised dealers….”

    Is this some sort of a joke? What experience? A multi year wait without guarantee? Additionally here in London I have been explicitly told by a highly credible high street retailer that if I want a Nautilus, I have to prove my credibility/credentials that I am not a flipper by purchasing a complication watch first! This is extortion and if that is the owner’s idea of s full experience then I can well understand the market for online sales.

    The sense of entitlement is staggering.

  3. The thought of Patiek owner is ludicrous and laughable. You Patek produce abundance of nautilus and aquanaut. The people will stop selling in secondary market.

  4. I just purchased a 5167A ( Aquanaut) from the dealer and had to fill out paperwork that stated I wouldn’t sell it for 2 years. If I was caught selling it by one of the Patek “mystery shoppers” that I would be banned from ever purchasing a Patek from an AD ever again and would be forced (not sure how) to pay back the profits made on the watch to the Patek dealer.

  5. I think Patek needs to be way more aggressive. They need to weed out the flippers so that collectors get a chance to get a hold of pieces that they will cherish. I think there is lots of capacity for a few dealers to lose their dealerships. I also see far too many examples of “bundling” by dealers. With a depression around the corner the shoe may be on the other foot with customers offering to bundle ro get sought after pieces


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