BASEL, SWITZERLAND — Patek Phillipe is not for sale, according to Thierry Stern, president of the family-run firm.
“Of course not! These are just rumors — this rumor has been cropping up for 30 years — it’s never been a question,” he told WWD at the Baselworld watch fair.
“We’re not for sale…we enjoy what we do, that’s largely enough for me — what would I do with money — I’m still young,” he added.
In January, an analyst note from Berenberg set the watch industry abuzz with talk that the company could soon be on the block. The luxury sector is on the lookout for signs of consolidation; comments from Kering in February that it is interested in bulking up its luxury portfolio, and has its eye on watches brands has further heightened speculation.
Patek Philippe, which is one of the leading Swiss watch brands, accounts for around 5.7 percent of the market, according to analysts at Morgan Stanley.
The house’s production is limited to 60,000 timepieces a year, which is not enough to fully take on the Chinese market, Stern also said.
“China, with more than 1.5 billion people, is a gigantic market, but we don’t have the capacity,” he said, noting the company prefers to work with clients locally, whether it’s in Geneva or Hong Kong.
“I want to work on the Chinese clientele but it’s not my priority because we are too small; I don’t have the capacity to deliver so many timepieces,” he said.
When it comes to embracing the digital sphere, and the choice of marketing channels, Stern stressed that the historic company is “not in a hurry,” and that a mix of digital and print is best.
“You have to use everything — digital, paper, a mix of the two; you don’t want to make a mistake and ditch one to use only the other,” he said.
“We don’t want to go too fast, so we prefer to wait, analyze things and then act — what we’ve done so far on the digital front is not too bad — we’re doing pretty well so far,” he said.