Thierry Stern has no plans to sell Patek Philippe and is set to introduce the first new collection since 1999 Thierry Stern has no plans to sell Patek Philippe and is set to introduce the first new collection since 1999

Thierry Stern has no plans to sell Patek Philippe and is set to introduce the first new collection since 1999

Zach Blass

When you have the most sought-after watch in the world, it takes humongous cojones to kill it off. While some would say it is insanity, Patek Philippe CEO Thierry Stern, who elected to discontinue the coveted 5711 Nautilus in steel, would probably argue it is discipline. A calculated effort that respects the trust and loyalty of his clients, as well as the integrity of the brand and what it stands for. Therefore, while it was rumoured Stern was potentially going to sell Patek Philippe to a conglomerate group, it is not surprising he has recently revealed to Bloomberg he has no plans to sell. In fact, not only does he have no plans to sell. He also revealed to Bloomberg that a succession plan is in place, and that, for the first time since 1999, a new collection/model line is set to make its debut soon.

On selling the Patek Philippe brand

As Andy Hoffman and Chris Rovzar suggest in their Bloomberg article, Patek Philippe, were it on the market to be acquired, would have a long dance-card of suitors waiting to take the manufacture off the Stern family’s hands. But, this is where you have to look towards the recent discontinuation of the Nautilus for further insight. Clearly Thierry Stern’s number one priority, while not completely void of fiscal motives, is to maintain the incredibly high standards of the Patek Phillipe name and brand. A huge motivator for purchase when it comes to Patek Philippe is, of course, their renowned craftsmanship, but also the security of knowing the value of a Patek Philippe will never falter. Were the Stern family concerned with cashing out, they could have simply reduced the quality of manufacture, increased the output of the Nautilus, and rode that wave. Yet, that is precisely why Stern has no plans to sell.

Stern explained to Bloomberg: “If I’m selling Patek Philippe to a group, for sure I am going to be the winner. I can sell it for billions. But then I’m going to kill Patek Philippe in less than five years. You can be sure you will only see Nautilus, because that’s what the group would do.”

He is not wrong there. It would be naive to say that the allure of owning a Nautilus is not tied to its scarcity, and the resulting premium it carries on the secondary market. And, it is undeniable that Patek Philippe never aimed to be known as the brand with the most sought-after sports watch – rather the home of the finest watchmaking and grandest complications.

On the current succession plan

If there is to be no sale of the brand, who will run it upon Theory’s retirement? Hoffman and Rovzar of Bloomberg explain: “Stern said his two sons, aged 20 and 21, have both decided to join the family-owned company and will begin learning all aspects of the business next year. It could take as long as a decade before either might be ready to begin taking on significant decision-making duties, Stern said. In the meantime, long-time executive Laurent Bernasconi is taking over as Patek’s general manager after nearly two decades with the company as part of its succession-planning process. The shift has been in the works for some time, with the move announced internally to Patek employees in 2021.”

On the reveal a new collection/model is incoming

An example of the ‘Twenty-4’

While it is unclear which way the design will skew – sporty, elegant, complicated or entry-level – what has been made clear is that a new collection is set to be presented soon – the first new collection since the Twenty-4 which debuted in 1999. Stern even revealed that the design is finished, a prototype is ready, and that he “really likes it”. Hoffman and Rovzar of Bloomberg explain: “Patek Philippe SA will soon introduce a new model line for the first time in nearly a quarter century, a fresh offering that the head of the family-owned Swiss watchmaker expects could one day compete with its most desirable timepieces. President Thierry Stern said the new model line is expected to be unveiled later this year, or next year once all the final elements are in place.”

Only time will tell what this new collection holds.