The OAK collection: 160 of the most beautiful watches of all time

A real treat for watch enthusiasts and watch collectors, 160 of the “best of the best” museum-quality vintage and contemporary watches are on public display for the first time.

A world first in the world of watchmaking, the unique private collection dubbed “The OAK Collection” will be exhibited at the Design Museum in London before a world tour.

Showcasing timepieces that are not only rare, but “unique”, hence the acronym OAK, this is the first time that a private watch collection has been exhibited in a public institution.

Carefully curated by French businessman Patrick Getreide over four decades, the comprehensive world-class collection comprises approximately 600 watches valued at hundreds of millions of dollars.

The bulk of the collection highlights Getreides’ special passion for Patek Philippe as well as many rare pieces from Rolex, FP Journe and Cartier.

The OAK Collection exhibition | Source: Hypebeast

The collection is so special that many watches are unique special orders, ultra-rare limited editions and the most valuable examples of their type. Among the collection is also the largest number of private Patek Philippe pieces that belonged to the famous collector Henry Graves Jr.

In addition, all these timepieces are serviced and maintained by a master watchmaker whose work is solely dedicated to this collection.

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Patek Philippe Henry Graves Jr. Pocket Watch | Source: Robb report

One of the many highlights comes straight from the pocket of New York banker and prolific watch collector Henry Graves, Jr. The platinum Patek Tourbillon pocket watch ordered by Graves in 1932, won the “Geneva Astronomical Observatory Timing Competition” in 1933-1934 and is engraved with Patek’s dedication to Graves.

A Patek Philippe World Time reference 2523J from 1953 is one of only two examples ever made in 18-karat gold. A rare specimen, it is in pristine condition, barely worn for 60 years with Getreide saying this piece is “my favorite watch – very rare, in high demand”.

Patek Philippe World Time Ref 2523J | Source: Robb report

One of the most collected watches in the world, the Rolex Daytona Paul Newman is another gem among the many rarities. This hand-wound stainless steel chronograph is far from another Daytona, however. It was once owned by NASA astronaut “Walt” Cunningham, who flew it into space on the Apollo program’s first successful manned mission in the late 1960s.

Getreide admits “I had to fight really hard to get this one”.

An iconic design but still one of a kind, at first glance, this Patek Philippe Ref. 3800 appears to be an ordinary Nautilus. In fact, it features a quartz movement inside specially designed for a doctor whose profession is time sensitive. Collectors will have a hard time finding another Ref. 3800 with a quartz movement and Getreide mentions “It’s actually incredibly difficult to make this quartz watch”.

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Patek Philippe Ref. 3800 | Source: Robb report

There’s plenty more to explore, from a rare Patek Philippe Aquanaut and special Rolex Day-Date Oyster Perpetual to a limited-edition FP Journe Octa Calendar.

The OAK collection is on display at the London Design Museum until May 25, before touring the United States, Asia and the Middle East.

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