US retailers advertisement, 1955
US retailers advertisement, 1955

Collectability in depth: Dogu Tasoren

An exclusive interview with Dogu Tasoren, aka art_of_horology

Collectability in depth shares detailed interviews with notable figures in the Patek Philippe collecting world. I am delighted to start this series with Dogu Tasoren, aka art_of_horology_ and formerly _vintage_vacheron_constantin on Instagram. If you don’t follow his infectious collecting journey, you are missing out. Below, Dogu generously discusses his passion for Patek Philippe and many other topics, including his ‘secret’ Patek Philippe-infused IG feed.

JR: You are taking Instagram by storm especially with the online Patek Philippe community. How did this all start?

DT: This all began for me about two years ago when I first started to get interested in high horology. Very quickly my interest shifted to ‘vintage high horology’ because at the time I was incredibly fascinated with history and ‘antiques’. After starting to do some research on watchmaking I was soon introduced to Patek Philippe and Vacheron Constantin. I was fascinated with Patek Philippe – and especially vintage Patek Philippe – and I just had to join a vintage watch community. And so, I joined Instagram, where most enthusiasts share their passion.

I wanted to learn and contribute as much as I could. I wanted watches to be a daily part of my life. I opened my account and started with posts on vintage Vacheron Constantin timepieces, and a year or so later I started to post content on Patek Philippe. I do a lot of research on Patek Philippe (some may argue, a little too much research), and I love to introduce other enthusiasts to information that they didn’t previously know, such as rare ads and photographs. For example, a few months ago I found an important photograph of Mr. Alan Banbery and Mrs. Krysten Farren-Price taken in Australia, 1977. In the photograph Mr. Banbery and Mrs. Farren-Price were posing next to a unique Patek Philippe wristwatch covered in diamonds and emeralds.

After I posted the picture on my page, it turned out that the current owner of the watch was actually a follower of mine and he was incredibly happy to see this picture of his watch taken almost 40 years ago. And I was incredibly happy to be the one who brought it to his attention. This is for me one of the greatest pleasures in the world of vintage watches. And is one of the main reasons of why I run this account. Owning an amazing piece is one thing but seeing a photograph of that exact piece from 40 years ago is another; it gives the timepiece much more value, and I am not talking about a dollar value. I am talking about sentimental value… Same thing with advertisements as well, it gives you extra pride to own your Patek Philippe when you see that the model has been featured on an incredible ad.

JR: You are a mysterious figure in the world of watches and a tastemaker with influence growing at an epic speed. Tell us about yourself.

DT: Well, I recently moved to London from Istanbul. Currently I am studying here, but I also work part time in the investment banking/fund management industry, which is actually another deep passion of mine. I have been properly interested in vintage Patek Philippe for about two years now. So, I am still fairly new in the world of vintage watches.

Passion for Patek Philippe Ellipse, an ad from the 1970s. Image credit: Collectability

I thought I was the only person in the world that appreciated the Patek Philippe Ellipse until I started reading your page johnreardon570. I remember thinking I had found a kindred spirit in the appreciation of this Patek family when I first saw you start posting Ellipse stories.

Your page was actually one of the first accounts on Instagram that I started following and soon after I was actually pretty amazed that you were a fan of the model too!

A Dogu favorite: Patek Philippe Ellipse ref. 3548. Image credit: Collectability

I seriously think that the Ellipse is currently like an unpolished gem. A beautiful, but undervalued asset. The Ellipse, as many enthusiasts agree, has a beautiful, unique, and timeless design, and when it first came out in 1968 with its ‘blue gold dial’ it was a revolution for Patek Philippe. This was their take on the new ‘classical’ watch. Its case wasn’t round or square, it was an ellipse. And in 1968, Patek Philippe made a clear statement that this was their take on the upcoming decade. One single Ellipse reference, the ref. 3548, shaped almost the entire collection of Patek Philippe during the 1970s. Take a look at a Patek Philippe catalogue from the 1970s, all that you are going to see is the color blue on an elliptical or ellipse case. All of this started with the Ellipse ref. 3548.

I would also like to mention that the Ellipse is an incredibly collectable family. It has everything a collector is looking for, besides complications, such as different dial variations, lots of reference numbers, and many double-signed pieces as well, which are very rare and hard to find. And the Ellipse may seem like it’s an overproduced model but that really isn’t the case. It is actually hard to find quality vintage Ellipse pieces, especially from the late 1960s and 1970s. I remember the first time I saw an Ellipse. It was in a storefront of a vintage watch retailer in Zurich. I immediately fell in love; it was pure, stylish, classical, and timeless.

Patek Philippe Ellipse collection from 1976. Image credit: Collectability

For a hardcore dress watch fan such as me, this watch was an object of beauty. And as you know, the Ellipse collection in the 1970s was incredibly large – from Ellipse pocket watches to Ellipse letter openers, to Ellipse keychains. But today, unfortunately the Ellipse collection is incredibly limited. Patek Philippe is actually still producing Ellipse keychains and money clips, but this is nothing compared to the Ellipse collection of the 1970s. However, Patek Philippe recently introduced the ‘Ellipse Rare Handcrafts collection’. This is an incredible move for the Ellipse and it is amazing to finally see the Ellipse included in the Rare Handcrafts collection. But after all, every Patek Philippe is a rare handcraft isn’t it? Today, more and more people contact me to say that they are interested in acquiring an Ellipse, so I believe that the Ellipse is making a strong come back. Slowly but surely. The Ellipse is an icon of Patek Philippe and I am sure it will be just as popular once again as it was in the 1970s.

JR: You started out as _vintage_vacheron_constantin on IG and pivoted to focus mostly on Patek Philippe. What is the vision behind this account and the story with the name?

DT: The reason why I started a vintage Vacheron Constantin IG account instead of a vintage Patek Philippe was simple. I thought, and still do think, that Vacheron Constantin made some amazing pieces during their incredibly long history. Most of them, in my opinion, are similar to Patek Philippe in terms of design, quality, and finishing. Basically, Vacheron Constantin was almost as good as Patek Philippe but didn’t get half the recognition. Many people whom I talked to at the time didn’t know much about Vacheron Constantin and its history. I wanted to change that. I wanted to contribute as much as I could to give Vacheron Constantin the recognition it deserves. I quickly started doing research and soon enough found some incredible timepieces created by them that at the time a very limited amount of people knew about.

After two years or so, when I felt like I had finally accomplished my goal of introducing Vacheron Constantin and its amazing history into the lives of other enthusiasts, I started doing posts about Patek Philippe, my number one love. And now I am conducting a lot of research on Patek Philippe, just like I did with Vacheron Constantin.

JR: Now you have vintage_patek_philippe as another account and I hear people are literally begging to follow this private account. You have only eight followers and I am honored to be one of them. Without sharing too much, can you say what this account is and what is presented?

DT: Well first, I am honored that you follow it, and I am very glad you enjoy the content on this account. Basically, I share photographs and advertisements from my personal Patek Philippe-related archives that I have been gathering for two years and that are important to me.

JR: You have found historical Patek Philippe press images and advertisements that no one else has ever found before. Can you share what this global treasure hunt has been like for you and what has been your most exciting discovery?

DT: This treasure hunt has been a brilliant experience for me. And honestly, it is definitely far from easy to find these old photographs, but once you find and possibly acquire one, it feels like getting a new watch. It’s an amazing feeling – it almost brings you back in time to the day the photograph was taken. My most exciting discovery was an original press photograph of Mr. Alan Banbery from a Patek Philippe exhibition that he did in New Orleans in 1971. This photograph is very important for two reasons. First of all, it is one of the earliest press photographs taken of Mr. Banbery. The second reason is the pieces that he is holding in the photograph. In one hand he holds the pocket watch commissioned by Queen Victoria; and in the other hand, he holds the first Patek Philippe wristwatch ever made. Both pieces are still owned by Patek Philippe and can be seen in their museum in Geneva – this is like a dream trio for me.

JR: What is your dream Patek Philippe to own and wear?

DT: It has to be the Cartier sub-signed third series ref. 2499 in yellow gold. When a watch says Patek Philippe on it it’s already a big plus but put Cartier on the dial together with Patek Philippe than it becomes a dream come true for me.

JR: If you were sitting down with Thierry Stern having a coffee right now, what would you want to ask him or tell him?

DT: I would probably thank him and his family for what they have contributed to the world of watches. I would also thank them for their consistency in the way they run their brand.

Henri Stern and Dana Blackwell 1970 advertisement
Henri Stern and Dana Blackwell feature in a 1970 advertisement

JR: What is your definition of collectability in the world of Patek Philippe?

DT: I personally believe that every Patek Philippe has an amount of collectability. Every single Patek Philippe timepiece is a piece of art for me and should be seen as one. But in the end, it really depends on who you are and what you like to collect. A piece I wouldn’t consider buying may be incredibly collectable for somebody else.

Find @art_of_horology_ on Instagram.

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