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A Vintage Patek Philippe vs. Rothchild’s French Wine: Which Ages Better Over Time?

Can a high-end timepiece age better than a literal fine wine? Let's find out.

The Duel Patek Philippe/Château Mouton Rothschild

Some things—skinny ties from the 1960s not included—really do get better with age. That’s especially true for wine, of course, but other luxury objets take to the maturation process with equal enthusiasm, as long as they’re well-made and well-preserved. A 1953 Patek Philippe Ref. 2523, for instance, sprung out of a private collector’s vault and fetched $7.7 million at Phillips in May. It was made in the same year as another coveted item: Château Mouton Rothschild’s centenary bottle, one of which sold for $2,000 at auction last October. So which of these two has aged more gracefully—and which is starting to show a few gray hairs?

Patek Philippe

Château Mouton Rothschild

DISTINGUISHED BY ITS

Lugs that overlap the case and its blue-and-tan illustration of Eurasia (which you’d be forgiven for not immediately recognizing as a pair of continents).

The Duel

A close up of the 1953 model.  Patek Philippe

DISTINGUISHED BY ITS

Illustration of brand founder Baron Nathaniel de Rothschild dominating the label.

The Duel

Baron Nathaniel de Rothschild presented on the label. 

SIGNED BY

Louis Cottier, a watchmaker and watercolor painter. He adapted the universal time system to the wrist in the early 1930s. The method was first devised by Sandford Fleming, a railway engineer who got the idea after missing a train in Ireland.

The Duel

Louis Cottier 

SIGNED BY

Philippe de Rothschild, who moonlighted as a race car driver. He competed under the pseudonym Georges Philippe.

The Duel

Philippe de Rothschild  Associated Press

ACCORDING TO THE AUCTION LISTING ITS

“Truly horological endgame.”

ACCORDING TO THE AUCTION LISTING ITS

“So sweet and melting, it is sheer heaven.”

 MADE IN

A manufacture in Geneva on the banks of the Rhône.

 MADE IN

A massive room in the Médoc region of Bordeaux, which can hold up to 1,000 oak casks. It’s called, aptly, Great Barrel Hall.

EXPIRATION DATE

There isn’t one, though you’ll need to take it to be serviced every three to five years.

EXPIRATION DATE

2035.

ENJOY UNTIL

You bequeath it to an offspring.

ENJOY UNTIL

The last drop disappears.

 LEARN MORE ABOUT IT AT THE

Patek Philippe Museum in Geneva, which has its own version of the watch.

 LEARN MORE ABOUT IT AT THE

Museum of Wine in Art, which houses a collection of the estate’s many wine labels.

The Duel

Château Mouton Rothschild

NOBODY’S PERFECT

There are a few scratches on the back of the 18-karat yellow-gold case.

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The back of the vintage Patek reference.  Patek Philippe

NOBODY’S PERFECT

According to one auction listing, the labels are “slightly damp, soiled and peeling in corners.”

A.K.A

“Silk Road” or “Eurasia” for the colorful depiction of Europe and Asia on its face.

 

A.K.A

The one with the portrait on it. Since 1945, Château Mouton Rothschild’s labels have featured illustrations by notable artists, so the 1953 label marked a significant departure from that tradition. (You can buy a version for $18 on eBay.)

The Duel

The Château Mouton Rothschild label.  Château Mouton Rothschild

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