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The story of a Patek Philippe 3498 gifted by the king of Saudi Arabia to one of the coolest guys ever

Patek calatrava box scaled

This Life is but a pilgrimage

– Horace Warpole, The Caste of Otranto


When I started studying Law many people asked me why I wasn’t bored reading legal texts. What I tell them is that the more you study law the more you notice the interconnectivity of the world. With the benefit of hindsight, studying law demonstrates how a string of causation neatly lines up all the plots of life. However absurd a law seems to us in 2016, rest be assured that it is there for a reason and has a story to tell.

Stories are all around us, and we all see them through different manifestations. To me, watches tell stories. Regardless of whether the owner even knows it, locked up in any watch case we can find a story if only we manage to crack open the oyster of secrets it holds.

Today I would like to share with you the story of a very special watch: the story of a Patek Philippe reference 3498 from 1964.

The watch

On the surface we see an elegantly thin 5 mm thick case which flatters the arm. Tightly interwoven solid gold mesh stretches seamlessly for a comfortable embrace of the wrist. Beauty in simplicity can be seen clearest in the dial. Simple thin hands, long indices, and no markers present a calming sight on the soft white of the dial.

On the inside we find the beating heart of a movement calibre 175. Only 1.77 mm thick, and based on an almost century old design by Frédéric Piguet, this kind of design has become a rarity. Adding to its rarity is the fact that it is beating at an 18,000 A/h compared to a modern 22,000 A/h, serving as a gentle reminder that it comes from a pre-technological era where time seemed to move slower.

Turning the watch around, we discover an engraving showing off two swords crossed under a palm tree. The sword stands for the unity of the Kingdom of Hejaz and the Sultanate of Najd and its dependencies; protecting the people, heritage and history, as shown by the palm tree, of modern day Saudi Arabia.

The Gift

The Patek was a gift of King Ibn Saud, of Saudi Arabia, who first met Captain Sotiriou on a royal visit to the Naval Academy where Captain Sotiriou was the dean. Sotoriou, a highly-decorated world war II veteran, was later to become vice-admiral and work as master of various naval vessels and Nato postings. The two formed a friendship during the residence of the king in Greece. When leaving Greece for health reasons King Ibn Saud gifted this watch to Captain Sotirou as a token of appreciation for their friendship.

As though unaffected by all the time that has passed this watch now sits on a desk beating at its idle and steady pace. Who knows the adventures it will still have?