Chong Hing Jewelers, a local high-end jewelry retailer, and Patek Philippe – a dominant player in the luxury watch industry – held a private event at the Jonathan Club in downtown Los Angeles on Thursday, Oct 6.
At the preview event, which was attended by many San Marinans, Patek Philippe unveiled watches that will soon be for sale at Chong Hing stores in San Gabriel, Rowland Heights and Northern California.
Larry Pettinelli, president of Patek Philippe USA, commended Chong Hing.
“What we were looking for in a partnership was a family business that had and held some of the same virtues that the Stern families [the owners of Patek Philippe] hold dear: loyalty, longevity and a transition to the next generation,” said Pettinelli, recognizing those qualities in the Lee family.
Three generations of Lees—the founders, their children and their grandson—were present at the event.
“They all have the values we’re looking for and they all represent us as ambassadors,” Pettinelli stated.
Recalling his first meeting with Chong Hing’s founders in 1989, Pettinelli said, “When we sat with Mr. and Mrs. Lee, we just felt like they had the shared values that we have. They thought long-term. They were building this business for their kids and their kids and their kids. So we just felt that people who are in it for the long term tend to make less kneejerk reactions,” he recalled.
“As ambassadors we are very lucky to have them. Their people are among the best trained in the world. They also have really beautiful stores and the environments are a nice place to go and learn about watches,” Pettinelli added.
Chong Hing is one of Patek Philippe’s 440 retail partners worldwide. Patek Philippe and Tiffany & Co. have a more than one-and-a-half-century-old partnership.
Comparatively, Pettinelli noted, “The Lees are relatively youngsters. They’re only 26 years old with us, but at the end of the day, I’ve already seen three generations.”
Patek Philippe’s 20-year-old “Generations” advertising campaign, Pettinelli said, emphasizes the brand’s multigenerational approach.
The advertising campaign, he stated, “effectively celebrates the family. Because with Patek Philippe, generally speaking, people buy these watches for some very special occasion and they usually hand them down to their children.”
“We make very simple designs, but they’re timelessly elegant because we want to make sure when you pass something down to your children 100 years from now, it’s still going to be relevant,” he said of the watches on display at the event. “It’s not some trendy piece you’re going to throw in the drawer in five years and never see it again.”
The watches also appear to be timelessly valuable.
“A watch that was sold in the 1940s or 50s for $200 or $300 is now bringing 12, 14, $18,000 at auction,” Pettinelli estimated.
An example of such a watch coincidently walked in the door on the wrist of a long-time San Marino resident.
This resident was wearing a Patek Philippe watch, which his friend had purchased for him in 1968 for $325. He then subsequently added an 18K gold band.
When Pettinelli told him that his watch would sell for $25,000, this resident, overcome with laughter, remarked, “I wish I had bought 500 of them.”
Patek Philippe’s focus on quality craftsmanship has made it a leader in luxury timepieces amongst regular consumers and watch connoisseurs alike. In fact, the brand is routinely ranked as the world’s top luxury watch brand by industry experts.
“What’s really known to collectors is a $300,000 piece that doesn’t have a single stone on it. It’s all about the fact that the watch took two years to make. Somebody sat at their work bench and finished every part in there for two years and that’s why it’s $300,000, not because we throw a bunch of stones on there,” Pettinelli stated.
In addition to selling high-end timepieces, Chong Hing also offers a range of fine gems and jewelry at its stores. You can find more information at www.chonghing.com or visit them locally in San Gabriel at 140 W. Valley Blvd. Ste. 119, or Rowland Heights at 18436 Colima Rd., Ste. A.