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.