Interview with Larry Pettinelli of Patek Philippe USA
February 9, 2014
I recently interviewed the President of Patek Philippe USA, Larry Pettinelli, who has been with Patek Philippe for 25 years, and was in finance prior to his career with Patek. He started as the West Coast Sales Representative, and later became Vice President, and eventually President.
Jason Pitsch: At a recent meeting with US watch trade editors at Patek Philippe HQ you stated that all new Patek Philippe timepieces will feature silicon hairsprings (Spiromax). Are their any plans to integrate the GyromaxSi (balance) or Pulsomax (escapement) technology into more of the collection?
Larry Pettinelli: Yes, this is something that Geneva is refining. I am sure when they feel comfortable and ready, this technology will become more widely available throughout the collection.
JP: Sales across the watch industry are at record highs, including in the US market, yet you recently stated that the allocation of pieces to the US for 2013 was actually slightly lower than for 2012. Can you please explain why this is?
LP: This was a strategic decision by Patek Philippe in Geneva when re-evaluating worldwide allocations.
JP: As the baby boomers age, and the X and Y generations become increasingly more important from a demographic standpoint, how does Patek Philippe plan to target this group?
LP: Since Mr. Thierry Stern and Sandrine Stern fall within these generations, their design concepts give a contemporary nod with some of the new references without compromising the tried and true DNA of a Patek Philippe.
JP: At Baselworld 2014, Patek Philippe will unveil their all new Baseworld booth, and from what I have been told it will coincide with some very important/significant product launches. Could you give us any idea of what we can expect to see?
LP: 2014 will be a significant year for us. The brand-new booth at Basel will coincide with our 175th anniversary.*
JP: In the current issue of International Watch magazine (December - page 158/159) you were asked: “Are there certain issues you think watch retailers need to address in order to better serve the needs of their collectors?” And one answer you gave specifically, said “we have made education and training a top priority…” Many brands now use their flagship stores as a way to further educate consumers. Will Patek Philippe ever open a flagship store in New York?
LP: We have partnered with Tiffany & Co to create not only a retail boutique but also a learning center were customers can come and view museum timepieces from Geneva as well as learn about the brand. We have a very strong retail network and the Sterns at this point in time have chosen not to open our own Salons in the US.*
JP: Recently, many watch companies have moved to selling online directly to the consumer. To date, none of these companies fall into the Patek Philippe price segment, however, in a recent article in HH Magazine - the International CEO of Audemars Piguet was quoted as saying they will begin selling online within 12-24 months. And with that announcement, it seems that the first brand within the top watch price segment will be coming soon. What does this mean for Patek Philippe?
LP: Yes, we are aware that the internet is a powerful tool. At this point we feel that buying at Patek Philippe should be an experience. Patek’s are often purchased to commemorate a special occasion. The process of purchasing should be a more personal interaction. We go to great lengths to train our sales people to provide customers with as much information on the timepiece as possible, and this would be harder to communicate over a website.*
NOTES: Top Image: Patek Philippe Chronograph in white gold - Ref. 5170G