Now that we’re back from SIHH, normal service is resumed. Here’s your round-up of the week’s watch news, starting with the most enticing corporate rumour we’ve heard in a long time
By Chris Hall
The rumour: Could Patek Philippe be sold?
According to a story on Bloomberg.com last week, rumours in the industry that Patek Philippe could be for sale have intensified. Right now this is nothing more than a rumour, fuelled by speculation from analysts at Berenberg, the German investment bank, who themselves were only following what they cited as “industry sources” talking during SIHH. But it has led to some interesting conversations: what could a Patek sale look like? How much is it worth? And of course – who would buy it? The common consensus is that the Stern family, who have owned Patek Philippe since 1932, would not sell to a private equity fund or similarly short-term investor. Valuations for Patek Philippe vary – Berenberg’s analysts placed it at $8bn-$10bn, while others have suggested it could be closer to twice as much. The list of companies that could afford it is short: the Swatch Group and Richemont would probably struggle, and in any case would be unlikely to acquire a direct rival to Breguet and Vacheron Constantin or A. Lange & Sohne. Kering is possible but unlikely, and some have suggested Hermes, Chanel or even Apple could make a bid. But the most convincing candidate is the LVMH group – for reasons best explained by investor and collector Edmond Saran at Le Monde Edmond.
The car: Aston Martin x TAG Heuer
The ideal gift for the Premier League footballer in your life: a new, top-of-the-range Aston Martin DBS Superleggera (Superlight? More like super-dark…) that has been given an exclusive TAG Heuer spec, inside and out. That means ‘Monaco Black’ paint (see what they did there? Pity it’s not accompanied by a revival of the Dark Lord Monaco); various carbon fibre accoutrements and Formula 1-style Pirelli tyres with red sidewall detailing; a black leather and alcantara interior with contrast red stitching and Aston’s proprietary pressed carbon dashboard detailing. You also get red TAG Heuer logos stitched into the seats. Of course, the car comes with a limited edition TAG Heuer Carrera Heuer 01. Fifty models only will be made, and don’t bet on too many of them coming to Britain’s shores.
The missed opportunity: Junghans’ Skiing Chronograph
This is a nice story, and on the face of it no different from so many other sporting tie-ins or limited edition watches. Junghans, in its capacity as timing partner for the world Nordic ski and luge world championships, is releasing a limited edition chronograph. It’s the WM-Edition 1972 Chronoscope, and for this version, it features light blue and red accents on the chronograph seconds hand and subdial hands, and a red strap. It’s got bags of seventies style and personality – so what’s the problem? It’s quartz. If Junghans was so minded, it could pop an automatic chronograph movement in this and have a real hit on its hands; the movement exists from the Meister Pilot line, needing only a slight modification to take a running seconds subdial at 6 o’clock. But for commercial reasons, it doesn’t, and we understand that. But wouldn’t it be nice?
The emerging trend: relief-etched bezels
It’s early days but we are going out on a limb and claiming that this will be an occasional trend for 2019 and beyond: the relief-etched bezel. Panerai has done it with its Mike Horn Submersible, and now Oris is joining in with the new Aquis Date Relief. Different interpretations each, but sharing the common theme of a dive bezel with the numerals and markers picked out in relief. Sort of like they were making a ceramic bezel, but stopped short of filling the bezel with powder and firing it in the oven, and instead said “that’s good, let’s leave it there” (in the Panerai’s case at least; the Oris’s “relief” stands proud of the surface of the bezel). The Aquis Date Relief is priced from CHF 1,750.