- By Arthur Touchot

I recently had coffee with a watch collector friend who always wears something special when I see him. That morning he wore a stainless steel Rolex Datejust on a jubilee bracelet. I couldn’t quite see if it was a reference 1601 or 6305, but either way it was an absolute classic. 

“Beautiful”, I remember thinking. “The kind of watch that every collector should own at least once in their lives.”

“What do you think about this one Arthur,” he said. “Every collector should own one, right?”

As I answered, I had another look at the watch, and noticed an extra line of text typically not seen in Datejust models. Before I could ask to see it up close, the collector handed me the watch, advising me to “have a look at the dial”.

The words “Serpico Y Laino” confirmed this was not a standard Datejust, but one sold in Caracas, Venezuela. We began talking about the watch’s history and wondered who the original owner might have been, perhaps a local gentleman who walked past the boutique every day on his way to work. Maybe a diplomat living in the country’s bustling capital and guided to its finest establishments

Now it traveled the world, from London to Dubai on the wrist of a modern gentleman collector who understood and appreciated the watch for its difference. And if you didn’t pay it any attention, a watch that looks like many around.

From accross the room, the present Patek Philippe reference 5070 (Lot 13 of Double Signed) looks like a regular production 5070 (already an amzing watch), but up close the Tiffany & Co. signature reveals two things: that is was purchased in New York City, and that the owner is someone high up on the retailer's list of clients. 

With the taste in collectible watches growing increasingly uniform, the addition of a few letters on a dial is the ultimate clin d’ceil between long-time collectors who appreciate the supreme rarity of these “double signed” models, and wear them in complete confidentially in a sea of similar, iconic watches.

They are the difference between a watch that can be found with relative ease on the market and one that you must search (and in the case of modern double signed watches, wait) patiently for; between a watch with no apparent history, and a watch with immediate ties to a specific culture and era.

They inform us, both on the provenance of the watch and the personality of the collector. And ultimately, they can be the difference between a watch having a fixed market price, and one with priceless value to watch collectors.