Putin’s Watch? Or Fake News?

A story recently caught the luxury watch world by surprise when it was reported that Vladimir Putin’s personal Patek Philippe 5208P was going to be sold at auction.

The 5208P is a very rare and expensive watch, and rare and expensive watches often attract attention when they come up for sale.

putin patek 5208pHaving the name of a famous (or infamous, depending on your point of view) person attached to it can drive up the price considerably.  That’s why it was noteworthy when the auction house declared that the listed owner of the watch was Putin, a man known for wearing fine (and very expensive) timepieces on his wrist.

This week, the office of the Russian President says that the watch is not Putin’s watch, but they declined to elaborate.

The auction house, on the other hand, insists that it’s Putin’s name on the ownership documents.

Granted, anyone can fill out any name they want when they buy a watch, but it’s pretty unusual for a watch that sells for $1 million new to have the name of someone other than the buyer put on the paperwork at the time of purchase.

High end watch companies insist upon having the paperwork filled out at the point of sale.  This defines the watch as having an owner, and once that is done, the watch is considered owned (or pre-owned, if it comes to market shortly thereafter.)  The point is that the name on the paperwork means the watch is no longer new.

It’s true that someone could have purchased the watch as an intended gift for the Russian leader, though even that would be a bit unusual.

The 5208P is not a run-of-the-mill watch, even for Patek.  It’s a chronograph with a minute repeater and a perpetual calender that shows the day of the week, the date, and which even has the ability to take leap years into account when showing the date.

The watch is also not for sale to just anyone who asks.  It’s a limited edition model that is only offered to regular customers of Patek Philippe…who also happen to have an extra $1 million or so lying around to pay for it.

The provenance may be a bit shaky, at least in terms of who is the registered owner of the watch.  It might be Vladimir Putin, or it might be “Vladimir Putin.”  Still, it’s a rare watch and having the name of the Russian leader attached to it is likely to drive up the price, simply because the stories making the rounds, true or not, are bringing the auction to the attention of more potential bidders and would-be buyers.

The more people who know about it, the more people are likely to bid.  The more bidders there are, the higher the price is likely to go.

Current estimates for the sale are something in the vicinity of $1.6 million.  The item will be sold on July 19, by Monaco Legend Auctions.  It’s worth noting that their Website simply lists the item as “Patek Philippe Triple Complication – Vladimir Putin.”  At the moment, there’s no other description.