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Platinum is the New Darling in Luxurious Watchmaking

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Patek Philippe Ref. 5470P
Picture: Patek Philippe

Every little thing counts in bigger quantities, or so Depeche Mode put it of their 1983 hit. As utilized to treasured metals, bigger quantities are measured in grammes and what counts is rarity and exclusivity. One ought to keep in mind that that is hardly an absolute. As an alternative, rarity and exclusivity applies relative to the most effective of our present information and skills; it helps to do not forget that aluminium was as soon as extra precious than gold, as ridiculous as which may sound to modern ears. Equally, helium is the second-most ample factor within the universe, but it’s fairly unusual on our planet; its nature ensures that it will get rarer on earth over time, and thus ever extra precious.

Whereas we’re actively advocating that collectors look significantly at treasured steel choices, we do acknowledge some weirdness right here. To be upfront about it, platinum is cheaper than gold, and never by a bit. It is usually nearly as uncommon as gold, and arguably extra widespread, however far much less is mined, and for extra on that, you may at all times take a look at the historical past and materials properties of platinum. Some observers have ventured that platinum is completely suited to watchmaking as a result of it’s so tough to work with, and there’s most likely one thing to that. At least Patek Philippe President Thierry Stern points challenges to his watchmaking crew, urging them to make use of platinum for chiming watches whereas realizing full properly that the fabric is just not the most effective suited to this activity. Thankfully, whether or not a watch sounds out the time fantastically or not is a subjective matter.

Patek Philippe Movement
Picture: Patek Philippe

Any given materials’s skills to retain form and resist deformation are under no circumstances subjective, and surprisingly neither is lustre. The brightest steel we sometimes use is silver, as seen most just lately within the Tudor 925, however metal will be very vivid too, as anybody who has encountered a watch in 904L metal can attest. On the subjective aspect, gold has a really particular high quality about its glow that appeals to our aesthetic sensibility. Platinum is neither notably vivid nor does it maintain the attention as gold does; nevertheless, it does have its personal particularities which have drawn favour. One in every of these particularities is sturdiness, for which platinum is hard to beat. Ask any jeweller what’s going to retain its lustre over time and the reply is inevitably platinum; you possibly can do this over at Cartier and Harry Winston, each of that are well-known for his or her platinum items. It’s the materials’s density that’s accountable right here, which means it doesn’t put on out — sprucing platinum doesn’t take away materials, however extra on that later. For now, that very same density, particularly within the alloyed kinds utilized in jewelry, additionally makes platinum noticeably weighty and probably uncomfortable to put on. 

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Santos-Dumont Extra-Large
Picture: Cartier

All that is shorthand to notice that platinum is just not a go-to materials for its properties, a minimum of not so far as watches and jewelry go. As Jack Forster notes in his glorious story for Hodinkee in 2020, even seasoned watch collectors might have treasured little expertise with platinum (no pun meant). It’s extra unique than anything, and we don’t imply to counsel with our heavy focus right here that platinum is a trending materials, regardless of what you would possibly see from the watch novelties this yr. It may also be the case that platinum and different white treasured metals would possibly certainly be trending, however solely together with metal. For that reason, for this material-focused part, we determined to go together with treasured metals, with platinum and bimetallic mixtures anchoring the entire affair.

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