Patek Philippe-Pathology: Rockfall

Friday, November 10, 2023

It's PP-Pathology-Day again -- and why? Now, just by accident I stumbled across the Patek ref3578. The watch itself is not exactly what I would call a beautiful and well designed jewel, but this is just very personal opinion and irrelevant. The first examples appeared in 1969 and it was made throughout the early '80s. The rectangular case was of course not made by Patek Philippe but a 3rd-party provider (Haeberli & Hauri, Geneva), as PP did not make any cases at all in this era. The movement is a polished FPiguet cal21-Ebauche and so also from a 3rd-party provider -- but hey, its a Patek... ;-)

All this comes as expected, but the reason this watch catched my attention is another: It is decorated with some lapis-splinters on the indexes and hands and it has two lapis-bars embedded into the case. Now, and this looks to me a bit suspicious: at a time when Piaget literally rocked the market and put some pressure on the so-called holy-trinity (Patek, Vacheron, Audemars) by offering stone-dials (since the mid 1960s) Patek had nothing like this in stock and came out with bold and rather easy to produce stone-bars left and right to the case and some stone-splinters put on the indexes: "Now, please see the top-dog has the nice stones used in watches as well." Aehm, ja. Nice try, top-dog.

I already pointed out that imo the first Patek-stoned dials appeared in the mid '70s and before Patek only hammered on some rocks to put something left and right to the case. See here: *klikk. So, the Patek ref3578 is imo a horogical artefact that very nice clarifies the situation in the late '60s and early '70s: Piaget established a demand / trend by offering thin-cut stone dials, an innovation they were able to master because they created expertise in-house since the early '60s, and the so-called best of the industry stood by, looking like the famous cow when it thunders.

Oh, Vacheron and Audemars at that time also had dials that looked (!) like stone dials: lacquered or printed. Haaaaaa, so holy! I am off the chair, mes amis.

I am pointing this out so pleasurable because I think this and some of the following stories in this series have the content to move vintage Piagets a bit toward their fair assessment for a) what they are and b) what they achieved for horology.

#PatekPhilippePathology: I made it a hashtag and it will sum all the things that are surprisingly good or surprisingly gone-wrong at the top dog. And the reason we observe them more critic than many others is obvious: they are celebrated everywhere by everyone, so we are happy to be the devils advocate and besides this: they are strong enough to hear that.

Photo from @Misterenthusiast at Instagram.