The managing director of Patek Philippe on why watches elicit such emotions – and how to keep yours in top condition.

As a teenager, Mark Hearn was taken to Jersey by his father to buy his first grown-up watch, an Omega with a light-blue shaded dial and rectangular case. He recalls becoming transfixed by the rotor, which moved when he moved, living because he was living.

Sadly, the prized possession was stolen during a night out at university; Mr Hearn has been looking for it ever since, scouring auctions and second-hand in the hope of finding the treasured timepiece. That search continues despite the fact that he is now the managing director of Patek Philippe – such is the emotional tie to a watch.

How fitting then that Patek Philippe’s mantra is that you never truly own one of its watches, but merely look after it for the next generation. Indeed, it’s the company’s enduring quality, tradition, heritage and consistency – ‘the fact that we never chop and change,’ assures Mr Hearn – that’s made it a watch brand that is yearned for by enthusiasts the world over.

Patek Philippe 5170G watchThe only Geneva-based watch firm to remain family owned and independent – quite something when umbrella companies run the rest – every component of a Patek Philippe watch, right down to the strap, is of the highest quality. Many hours of craftsmanship are invested in each creation produced in the firm’s workshop, where 220 watchmakers beaver away on the finest of timepieces.

The watch market constantly changes and now women are buying men’s watches – as their appreciation of technical pieces has grown, they’re increasingly purchasing their own timepieces, rather than waiting to be given them as presents.

It’s no surprise that Patek Philippe’s customers are discerning and knowledgeable watch buyers, for whom only the very best will do, but it’s good to know that, having made such an investment, their great-grandchildren will be able to take their treasured timepieces back to the company’s New Bond Street store in London W1 for a service, safe in the knowledge they’re preserving a piece of history and a true heirloom for the future.

Mark Hearn’s tips for watch keeping

‘A watch holds huge emotional value, it’s with you every day,’ says Mr Hearn. ‘It experiences your life in its entirety.’

Here are his tips for looking after your cherished timepiece.

  • In the same way that you wouldn’t run a car without servicing it, as it would seize up and stop working, you should ensure your watch is serviced every 3–5 years
  • If you wear your watch under water, get a water-resistance test done every year
  • When you take your watch off, place it crown side down to limit the scratches on the case. If you have your timepiece serviced by Patek, we replace the crown during each service anyway
  • If it’s been a particularly hot day, wipe away any moisture with a soft cloth to keep your watch in tip-top condition.