What small businesses can learn from Patek Philippe

Here, we look at how businesses can learn a lot from Patek Philippe.

If you ask any average Joe on the street about famous watch brands, what do you think they’d say? Rolex and Tag Heuer are likely, so too is Casio and Swatch, and even Apple since their smartwatch has been around since 2015. But one brand that probably won’t come up is Patek Philippe. For a company that has been around since 1839, the brand does trade incredibly well, but it would be fair to say that it still has some way to go to catch up to the likes of Rolex in terms of popularity and brand recognition. But maybe, just maybe, Patek Philippe doesn’t care.

Their social media is basically non-existent (the first result for ‘patek philippe instagram’ is actually a fan page) and there are no brand ambassadors associated with the company. No, Patek Philippe is definitely a brand that allows its products to do the talking. Whilst the watch company may not be a social media marketer’s dream, they are, however, still a very good influence. Just like football managers, businesses can learn a lot from Patek Philippe. Why? Let’s find out.

They believe women can be big spenders too

It’s fair to say that Patek Philippe undoubtedly isn’t the most affordable brand out there. A stark contrast to cheap Swatch watches if ever there was one, Patek Philippe is unashamedly a brand for the rich. Certainly, you might be able to find a somewhat discounted model you’re searching on Chrono24 – one of the most popular online marketplaces for watches – but frankly speaking, you’ll need money if you want to be the owner of a Patek Philippe. Perfectly aware of this, the Swiss company make very luxurious and expensive watches, but they do one thing slightly different to other watch brands, they also pitch very luxurious and expensive watches to women.

It goes without saying that watches only for women already exist, but we rarely see watches of this magnitude. Patek Philippe’s ‘Reference 7130G’ will cost $51,000, but does look incredibly good. You might ask how exactly a women’s watch differs from a men’s watch, but to answer that is Sandrine Stern, head of watch creation at Patek Philippe. ‘When I speak with ladies, their first priority is how it looks,’ says Stern. ‘They prefer complications that are useful, like a date indication.’ Further adding that men ‘like visible complications like a chronograph, something that looks high-tech. For them, it’s a bit like buying a sports car.’

They stick to their guns

Funnily enough, the aforementioned watch is also a bright blue colour – a shade commonly referred to as a ‘boys’ colour (walk down any aisle in a major toy store and you’ll know what we mean). Women’s watches are often described as simply being smaller and with a square shape, but Stern adds that there was clearly a demand for a change to this idea. ‘[The watch] proved that there was a real interest,’ Stern says. ‘Since we are a family business we can do what we want and not wait for all the figures and analysis.’ In another interview, Stern has said that the company doesn’t design for a specific moment, but for the future.

Watch trends, it seems, is not something that concerns those at Patek Philippe. Tag Heuer eventually gave in to the ever-growing smartwatch market and produced their own – the Connected Modular 45. Although the Connected did feature as the official watch in the latest Kingsman movie, reviews for the smartwatch have been primarily underwhelming (much like the Kingsman movie), declaring it way too expensive for what you’re actually getting, and not adding that much in terms of design or ingenuity. Patek Philippe will no doubt be looking at this development with glee, happy they didn’t bow to the digital trend.

They take pride in what they do

Have one look at a Patek Philippe and you’ll understand immediately the craftsmanship and skill that goes into every watch. These aren’t just wristwatches, they are works of art. The brand’s boutiques are lavish to the point where it’s like shopping in a palace. Put simply, Patek Philippe is another level, and they want you to know it. The company recently put on an exhibition to display hundreds of some of their best models in New York.

This wasn’t just a way to show off to the public, but also a way to present just how dedicated and passionate Patek Philippe is about the art of watchmaking. After all, this is a company that prides itself on a watch that lasts essentially forever, evident with their famous tagline: ‘You never actually own a Patek Philippe. You merely look after it for the next generation.’

Considering both genders as important, staying true to your company’s vision, and genuinely loving what you do: these are just some things you can learn from Patek Philippe.

Ben Lobel

Ben Lobel

Ben Lobel was the editor of SmallBusiness.co.uk from 2010 to 2018. He specialises in writing for start-up and scale-up companies in the areas of finance, marketing and HR.

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