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When you hear a watch collection has been dubbed "The OAK Collection," you might assume it's a robust assortment of Audemars Piguet Royal Oaks. Really, that would be impressive enough. It turns out, though, that OAK is not a reference to the watch models at all.
It stands for One-of-A-Kind. To label a collection with that moniker, you must have an unassailably remarkable horde of horology grails. In fact, that's exactly what Patrick Getreide has. And that horde is coming to auction at Christie's starting next month in what will likely become the most expensive single owner watch sale of all-time.
Last week, we detailed the unparalleled collection of 25,000 bottles of wine heading to the block. This week, it's a collection of over 500 watches, painstakingly assembled to meet the highest of criteria. Getreide, a French entrepreneur, has been collecting from a young age, first discovering his passion in the shop windows of Geneva while at boarding school.
The collection leans heavily into Patek Philippe, though all the expected representation is there. Among the criteria for acquisition are aesthetic condition, rarity, and provenance. Essentially all of the most desirable Patek specs find a home within the OAK Collection, as well as some totally unique rarities others wouldn't even be familiar with or have a chance to purchase. For example, his closeness with the brand compelled Patek's President, Thierry Stern, to make him two unique Yellow Gold and Rose Gold 5196 Calatravas to match the 570s in Getreide's collection. That's a borderline untouchable level of rarity.
OAK boasts five Patek Philippe pieces formerly owned by Henry Graves, Jr. Graves, an American banker, was one of the most important watch collectors in history, particularly of Patek Philippe timepieces. Graves is believed to have commissioned 39 watches from the company, with an estimated 30 surviving. Outside of the Patek Philippe Museum, which has 13 of them, the OAK Collection possesses the most. For collectors, enthusiasts, and historians alike, that's a big deal.
Getreide exhibited 160 watches from his collection back in 2022 on a global tour. This practice is uncommon in the watch world and takes a page from fine art. From a sense of honor and obligation, Getreide believed watches of this museum quality are meant to be shared, seen, and appreciated, rather than stored away in a vault, out of the public eye. Now, the watches will not only be seen by the public, but the public (at least the very wealthy public) will have its chance to bid on them. Christie's will sell over 500 watches from the collection, with 142 pieces comprising Part 1 of the sale in Hong Kong next month. While the first event won't feature the heaviest of hitters, at least one piece has a very strong chance of crossing the million dollar mark: an 18k gold Audemars Piguet perpetual calendar (Ref 5516). The watch is just one of nine produced and stands among the very best in condition.
For Getreide, it seems it's imperative to ensure these treasures end up in hands that will cherish them just as much as he did. His children reportedly do not share the same passion for horology, a reality which he's comfortable with. Alas, the time has come for the watches to pass time in new collections.
While Getreide chased provenance, in the process, he's created a powerful provenance all his own, one that will very likely flex its merit as his treasured pieces entertain bidding.
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