From 19th to 25th of May, The Design Museum London hosted the OAK Collection Exhibition – a unique show of 168 ‘best of the best’ vintage and contemporary museum-quality watches. I was one of the very lucky to witness the opening of this exhibition.
Mr Patrick Getreide is a humble person – a “sweet guy”, if I may… Decades ago he never thought, “not even for a second” that he will build a collection. But little by little it grew to become one of the most important collections of all time.
“At the beginning, I could not afford Pateks, so I went for the other ones“. Now he owns pieces from more than 50 brands and loves them all. Mr Getreide is one of those rare collectors that love watches per se… For a very long time, not even his friends were aware that he is a hard-core collector.
At some point, he realised that the world deserves to see them and enjoy them like any other precious objects in museums: “Why paintings in a museum? Why even cars? … why not watches? So I was talking to my son about why not bring it (r.n.: the collection) into a museum.“
“It is excellency, it is master of technology and I decided to show the collection” he concluded. And indeed, Mr Getreide has a genuine passion for watches, not specific brands or pieces but for excellency in watchmaking.
Asked about what criteria should fulfil a new piece to be desirable, the collector shared: “For me, all the watches are nice, That is why I like new and vintage. And sometimes I wear a 150 dollars Bristol watch. I love watches and it is not a matter of price.“
Mr Getreide impressed everyone with its collecting style. Mr Nick Foulkes recognised at some point: “What impressed me was… I thought at first this is an urban legend – I’ve heard that there is this man who built his own Patek shop in Singapore. And it decorated and filled it with vitrines as if it was a Patek Philippe boutique and I thought I have to meet this man. Cause obviously he is … aah, insane… And as I am somehow short on a few knives in the cutlery bucket … I felt that we get along, and we do…“
Talking about the OAK Collection, Mr Foulkes shares: “What impressed me so much about the collection? First of all, the attitude of Patrick. It is based entirely on what he likes. He bought some, to my mind, pretty ordinary things, and he bought some of the most exquisite things in the world.” He continues: ” I think that is what is appealing about the man and about the collection it is the authenticity. He can talk as animatedly about the Calatrava as he can about the Graves, or a grand complication. Or a Cartier with enamel dial.”
The collection was carefully curated in a way to focus on certain aspects of the watch collection. Of course, Patek Philippe filled the most of it but with the idea to make the public realise the true values and expertise in collecting. The OAK Collection features some of the one-of-a-kind examples created explicitly for Mr Getride. It is displyed in a way that allows the public to understand a glimpse of the complexity of watchmaking.
The starting piece is a Cartier Tank and continues with exquisite Calatrava pieces, sport and tool watches and ends with some of the rarest handcrafts met in the industry. The 3 pillars used in curating the exhibition were the quality, the rarity and the provenance. The London’s Design Museum shared a generous space in which 21 showcases displayed 168 watches organised in 11 sections.
Although not announced with a sure time schedule, the OAK Collection will travel the world to the USA, Middle East and Asia.
I was deeply impressed by the man behind it. Mr Patrick Getreide is an extraordinary man: passionate and kind, wise and generous. Asked about advice on how can a person collect he replied: “find a job that is better paid“. I have travelled to London thinking that he is the type of collector keeping the watches in boxes and just showing off… But no, he is enjoying the watches every day even if, for some of us, it is outrageous. He earned that through hard work, patience and a flair for people and business.
I am grateful and happy to be some of the few people in this world that enjoyed not only the watches from his grande collection but also his presence. It is an experience that, as a collector, you cannot usually get. Thank you Mr Getreide and thank you dear ladies at 289Consulting for organising this magnificent event.
Please find below some of my favourites of the exhibition.