Patek Philippe and Tiffany & Co
Patek Philippe (founded in Geneva, 1839) and Tiffany & Co (founded in NYC, 1837) were thousands of miles apart in distance, but only two years apart in time. The two companies reached an agreement in 1851 and Tiffany & Co became Patek Philippe’s first official partner in America. In 1876, the signing of a new contract brought the two even closer—the two business empires worked on intimate terms, like a pair of newlyweds.
Today, one might think that Patek Philippe enjoys a stronger and more exclusive brand image than Tiffany does. However, in the 1930s, Tiffany & Co once saved Patek Philippe from the brink of bankruptcy.
During the Great Depression, Tiffany & Co timely introduced James Packard and Henry Graves Jr. to Patek Philippe—two influential and legendary clients who subsequently ordered a substantive amount of unique and important timepieces. These orders allowed Patek Philippe to continue making watches of top quality without compromises even in the most difficult of times. Moreover, it was the very watches made for these clients that laid the foundation for Patek Philippe’s future reputation and status.
This long-lasting friendship has also entitled Tiffany & Co to be the only remaining retailer that can print its logo on the dials of Patek Philippe watches today. For collectors, the rarity and value of Tiffany-signed Patek Philippe watches simply cannot be overemphasized.
First of all, let us take a look at an old and curious Patek Philippe pocket watch produced in 1916. The dial is just signed “Tiffany & Co”; Patek Philippe’s own logo is absent. When you open the caseback, you will see the engraving “Made for Tiffany & Co by Patek Philippe & Co”. Patek shows Tiffany full respect by displaying the latter’s name on the front face and keeping its own logo on the inside.
Up next is a special wristwatch— Patek Philippe 3448J made in 1970.It is not difficult to see the Tiffany & Co sign printed at the six o’clock position of the dial. Stamping the Tiffany logo on the dial is not in itself a particularly uncommon practice, so what is so special about this piece?
Its uniqueness lies in the fact that it is a perpetual calendar, which is a very complicated watch that can automatically adjust for leap years. Today, Patek Philippe no longer has its complication watches double-signed by Tiffany, making the present watch an exceptionally rare example.
The two watches above were both regular production models. After the Millennium, Patek and Tiffany began to issue co-branded limited editions. These limited editions are different from the regular production models in that the total number of each edition is officially stated by the brands. On the other hand, it is difficult to pin down the exact number of Tiffany-signed 3448s or 5711s with a blue or white dial.
As a result, these double-signed standard models are often more valuable and sought-after than the limited editions due to their rarity and understated elegance. Only those who really understand the importance of the nine characters “Tiffany & Co” can truly appreciate the value of double-signed Pateks. However, the limited Tiffany Blue 5711 released last year is a special case, in that it is significantly more valuable than the regular double-signed 5711s due to its unprecedented publicity and auction fever.
Finally, let us take a look at four limited editions made by Patek and Tiffany since 2000. The Ref. 5150 is possibly the most sincere collaboration between the two companies. It was introduced to commemorate the 150th anniversary of Patek Philippe’s partnership with Tiffany & Co. In addition to modifications of the reference, several innovative designs were incorporated. For example, the month display uses Arabic numerals instead of English abbreviations ; the 12 o’clock index is a letter “T”, which is a good reminder of its provenance.
Furthermore, it is cased in a special hunter case which exquisitely depicts Patek’s headquarter building on the caseback. Interestingly, the name “Tiffany & Co” is also engraved on the building, representing the deep bonding between the two establishments.
The Ref.4987G is probably the rarest collaboration piece between Patek and Tiffany. There are only 50 pieces in total, 25 pieces with the blue sunburst dial and 25 with the white mother-of-pearl dial.
We can see in the Paddlewaves database that a Tiffany-signed 4987G with a blue guilloche dial was sold by Christie’s in 2013. The Tiffany signature on this dial is in a standard font, unlike the fancy font we see on the limited pieces. So it is safe to assume that the one sold at Christie’s is just a double-signed standard model, whereas the one sold by Sotheby’s (see below) is the real limited edition.
The Ref.5396 is a familiar reference to many. Patek made several changes to this model: Breguet numerals, luminous hands, inverted moon phase, which are all unique to this particular edition. Of course, “Tiffany & Co” was stamped on the dial. The caseback is engraved“Patek Philippe— A Shared Vision 2008-2013 —Tiffany & Co.”, to celebrate the five year anniversary of Patek Philippe’s boutique inside the Tiffany & Co. store.
The Ref.5711 is probably at the core of Patek Philippe’s identity. As the first limited edition sports collaboration watch between Patek and Tiffany, the Ref. 5711/1A-018 is a cash machine. It was released to mark 170 years of the brand-retailer duo and to celebrate LVMH’s successful acquisition of Tiffany & Co. At first sight this watch does not seem to be as impressive as the ones above. But on second thought, putting another brand’s iconic color on the world’s most coveted steel watch is indeed a bold move and a proud display of the intimacy between the duo.
Aside from the four models above, there are many other Tiffany-signed models, including Calatravas, annual calendars, chronographs, annual calendar chronographs and more sought-after sports models such as Aquanauts and Nautilus. These Tiffany-signed pieces are rarer and therefore more valuable compared to the unsigned ordinary examples.
The premium involved depends on the specific model. For sports models, as a rule of thumb, ones with a Tiffany stamp are at least twice as expensive as those without the stamp. But one must get to the specifics (rarity, popularity) in order to determine the precise premium of a Tiffany-signed watch.
Paddlewaves Auction Analysis
We analyzed the secondary market performance of several modern watches and compared the regular production models with their double-signed counterparts. As you can see, double-signed sports models enjoy a relatively greater premium. Although the Ref. 5205 is more complicated and has a higher retailer price than the 5711 or 5164, its secondary market performance is not as outstanding as the sports models.
It should also be noted that these Tiffany-signed Pateks are not always readily available on the secondary market. Finding them can be a challenging task. It often happens that two collectors both set their minds on a Tiffany-signed piece, and neither is willing to take the extra time to find another example, resulting in an exceptionally high auction price. Presumably this is what happened to the 5960A above, which was sold for twice its ordinary version.
Some may understandably question whether one extra line of text on the dial really is worth all the fuss. However, for true collectors, sometimes a small detail on the dial is all that matters. Dials are usually produced in batches, so a small difference on the dial, be it different letters, colors or numerals, will distinguish a watch from the rest in the eyes of collectors.
In the limited space of a dial, any minute detail can be special and should not be underestimated. Moreover, the “Tiffany & Co” stamp has a deeper meaning in that it not only enhances the rarity of a timepiece, but also serves as a testament to the enduring friendship between two legendary businesses.
Also, the romantic New York style represented by Tiffany is embodied in the “Tiffany & Co” signature. For those who like NYC, they get to experience the culture and atmosphere of NYC each time they put a Tiffany-signed Patek on the wrist. As watch enthusiasts, we genuine hope that the two companies will continue to come up with exceptional collaboration pieces in the future.