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 valuable 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 a substitute, rarity and exclusivity applies relative to one of the best of our present data and talents; it helps to keep in mind that aluminium was as soon as extra beneficial than gold, as ridiculous as which may sound to modern ears. Equally, helium is the second-most plentiful component 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 beneficial.

Whereas we’re actively advocating that collectors look significantly at valuable metallic choices, we do acknowledge some weirdness right here. To be upfront about it, platinum is cheaper than gold, and never by just a little. It’s also nearly as uncommon as gold, and arguably extra frequent, however far much less is mined, and for extra on that, you possibly can all the time try 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 in all probability one thing to that. A minimum of Patek Philippe President Thierry Stern points challenges to his watchmaking crew, urging them to make use of platinum for chiming watches whereas understanding full nicely that the fabric will not be one of the best suited to this activity. Happily, whether or not a watch sounds out the time superbly or not is a subjective matter.

Patek Philippe Movement
Picture: Patek Philippe

Any given materials’s skills to retain form and resist deformation are by no means subjective, and surprisingly neither is lustre. The brightest metallic we usually use is silver, as seen most lately within the Tudor 925, however metal could 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 significantly vivid nor does it maintain the attention as gold does; nonetheless, 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 is going to retain its lustre through the years and the reply is inevitably platinum; you could possibly 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, that 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. 

Santos-Dumont Extra-Large
Picture: Cartier

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

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