"I met many collectors on the first day of the exhibition, and some of them know even more about the brand than I do," said the fourth-generation scion of the Swiss luxury watchmaker

Singapore is the regional hub for Patek Philippe, admits its president and fourth-generation scion Thierry Stern. But he explains that the entire Southeast Asian region is equally important for the brand and deserves an exhibition the scale of the Patek Philippe Watch Art Grand Exhibition Singapore 2019 held at Marina Bay Sands.

That is also why the six Singapore 2019 Special Editions timepieces—the World Time Minute Repeater with a cloisonné enamel dial depicting a map of Singapore, the World Time Chronograph in black and red, the black and red Aquanaut in stainless steel, the raspberry-red Aquanaut Luce for ladies in stainless steel and the blue-gray Calatrava Pilot Travel Time—are not just limited to the city state but exclusive to the entire region.

Stern also took time off while he was in town for the exhibition to sit down with Singapore Tatler to chat about different topics including business strategy, succession planning and of course, watches.

1 / 5

The need to organise the exhibition in Singapore

"The Patek Philippe Watch Art Grand Exhibition Singapore 2019 is an important exhibition in educating people more about the brand and what we stand for. I met many collectors on the first day of the exhibition, and some of them know even more about the brand than I do. There is a genuine interest in the brand, and for some of these collectors, they don't have the chance to fly to Geneva to visit our museum. That's why Geneva has to come to Singapore."

2 / 5

A transgenerational love for Patek Philippe

"The exhibition also serves to increase the interest level of the brand among people. You know in Asia, in particular, when your family members wear Patek Philippes, the rest will start to think, 'Hey, this watch brand is interesting.' and will take notice of the brand even if they are not familiar with it at first. Maybe they don't own one now, but they will dream to own a watch. And with that, people understand the values behind our watches and they can transmit these to the children. Also, craftsmanship is a big thing here, I know. It can be a craft in creating furniture or any item—people really appreciate that and Patek is all about craftsmanship. Through the exhibition, I hope to give them a push to start their own collection of Patek Philippe watches." 

3 / 5

Not about following trends

"We are not focused on selling steel watches. It is the opposite. The demand for sporty watches has always been there, and it makes sense to make steel sporty watches. So we're not following trends. We are just following the DNA of the brand—we sell watches in gold, platinum and also in steel. And you know, once you start with a steel version, it's hard to sell the same watch in gold. I wouldn't do that." 

4 / 5

Trust is most important

"We're open to doing business with different people, so long as the parties involved are open to our rules. Small family businesses are good but the big retail groups also have great stores and capable people to sell the watches. But we look at long-term relationships and trust in the other party is the most important. My dad was very sad when contracts were introduced. To him, doing business was just about shaking hands and having mutual trust. There was no need for paper contracts. We really cherish relationships." 

5 / 5

Listen to the younger voices

"I've been talking about legacy to my two sons. I made the decision to join the family business, and I accepted it. If they are willing to take over the business, that's great. But if they aren't, I'm not going to force them. I know in Asia, sometimes the culture is such that the children don't really have a choice. In Europe, the sentiments are similar—the parents' views are strong but they will not force the children to accept. This way, the business will not flourish. If you ask me to choose between Patek Philippe and my children, the choice is simple. I'm happy to see my kids enjoy themselves and do what they like."

Watch Art Grand Exhibition Singapore 2019

September 28 to October 13

Sands Theatre, Marina Bay Sands

The exhibition is open to the public but tickets need to be reserved here