Would you pay a smite over £2 million for a stainless steel wristwatch? (And by “smite”, we mean another £31,000.) Well, someone did in 2008, making his latest acquisition – a perpetual-calendar moonphase Patek Philippe – the second-highest paid for wristwatch at auction, ever.
For, while gold or platinum usually encase the world’s most valuable timepieces, any collector will tell you that rarity is king, and complicated steel Patek Philippes are rare as hen’s teeth. Even after the watchmaker introduced its sporty Nautilus in steel in the Seventies – its daring slogan, "One of the world's most expensive watches is made of steel" – it’s still huge news when Patek deigns to clothe its more tricksy, multi-functional pieces in Sheffield’s stock in trade.
It therefore comes as no surprise that watch nerds the world over are going weak at the knees for this year’s ref. 5960/1A – the ‘A’ standing for ‘acier’, or ‘steel’ in French. It replaces the outgoing rose-gold and platinum models and costs a mere £39,920. With the rose-gold version pitched some £14,000 northwards of that, this watch represents a fair old price drop, even with gold prices continuing to hover where they are. Add to that the X-factor commanded by steel Pateks, and what you’re left with are serious horological fireworks for your buck.
It contains the brand’s first proprietary self-winding chronograph, first launched in 2006, bolstered by an annual calendar that only needs adjusting every leap year. The chronograph’s ‘bull’s eye’ monocounter displays minutes and hours in a forehead-slappingly simple consolidated form – no separate subdials littering the dial here – and the sporty associations of steel are reinforced by a slick new ‘teardrop’ bracelet and racy colourway.
We can’t promise that one of these will fetch you a couple of mill at Christie's in years to come, but if you can afford a Patek like this, you won’t regret it.