After giving it some thought, I have come to the conclusion that the concepts of the grail and exit watch are a threat to the passion that people have for watches. The acquisition of a grail watch could mean the fruitful conclusion of a long, interesting, and often enlightening quest. Once you’ve reached that one goal, you could set out on another quest, for new watch dreams are waiting to be fulfilled. But what if the journey has taken too great a toll? In that case, the grail watch could prove to be the exit watch — the one watch to end all watches. Let’s explore both concepts a bit further, find out how they relate, and discuss how not to lose your watch love under the bad spell of the one watch that rules them all.

Longing and striving for something that’s out of reach can be either extremely motivating or horribly discouraging. Some distant goals can be reached by saving up small sums of money — for example, the new €7,000 Rolex Air-King — but even then, you have to be fortunate enough to have enough room in the monthly budget. Unfortunately, obtaining a grail is usually not accomplished by simply putting a bit of money away every month, a relatively “painless” act that goes practically unnoticed if you automatize the process in your online banking app. Since I mentioned the 2022 Air-King that I lust after, I should also mention a timepiece with a much heavier price tag that raised my heart rate quite considerably — the Patek Philippe 5270P-014 Perpetual Calendar Chronograph. That green-dialed, €189,500 platinum grand complication is a personal grail-watch candidate. Or would it prove to be my evil exit watch?

The exit watch — The one watch to rule them all

Unless the Nigerian prince that emailed me earlier today pays up, the Ref. 5270P will never be mine. I can’t save up for it, and the raise in salary that it requires is not something I can negotiate with the powers that be at Fratello. Selling all other stuff I own, including a kidney, is not a viable option either. In other words, the platinum Patek is way out of reach; I recognize an impossible quest when I see one.

But in theory, the Ref. 5270P has the potential to be a watch that rules them all with great ease. And it captivated me when I tried it on during Watches And Wonders earlier this year. Despite all this, it’s definitely not an object I will eagerly pursue. I’m not going on an arduous search for money to fulfill my watch goal; it would be a fool’s errand. Instead, I will use my patience and perseverance to reach other (watch) goals that are within my grasp. And that insight brings me to the question of whether a grail watch is supposed to be attained at all.

Exit Watch

When a grail watch turns out to be an exit watch

We cannot refer to a grail watch without conjuring up associations to the Holy Grail. And one thing that both of these objects have in common is that people believe they possess miraculous powers. The Holy Grail, it is said, can heal its holder and even get him in personal contact with God. A grail watch is sought after because it is supposed to elevate and complete its wearer. Wearing a grail watch could possibly provide so much fulfillment that its wearer would feel the desire for any other watch melt like a snow cone in Phoenix. And that’s when the grail watch turns out to be the exit watch.

It is a most unfortunate turn of events. After all, when you’re OUT, you no longer want to know what’s happening IN the world of watches. And when you’re no longer following what’s new and happening in our horological habitat, I predict the love for the grail on the wrist will also fade out. In the darkest scenario possible, the grail goes on Chrono24 — along with the rest of the already useless watch collection that was sitting in a box in the attic — and a new car appears in the driveway shortly thereafter.

An idea and a means of motivation

The doom-and-gloom scenario I just depicted leads me to a word of warning: if you are convinced that the watch you’re longing for is the watch to end all watches, please stay away. The one Patek Philippe that rules them all is an evil dictator that will kill your fun. It will murder your passion and stop you from dreaming about other watches. The grail watch should be a mythical phenomenon. It should remain an evolving idea, a motivator to keep you pushing forward, exploring, and discovering new stuff.

When you’re collecting watches, over time, you will notice that the “grail watch” label doesn’t apply to just one watch exclusively. No, the label is a sticker you can use multiple times. As you gain more knowledge, develop your personal taste, and get more experienced, the grail watch evolves with you. I once wrote that the mesmerizing Patek Philippe 5070P is NOT my grail watch. Yes, this was to protect myself from disappointment — I don’t want to chase a fata morgana — but also because I believe in “Watch Karma”. If a watch is cosmically destined for you, it will be on your wrist one day. Meaning, it doesn’t require an obsessive chase. It only takes patience and time.

And if it doesn’t come to you, it was never meant for you in the first place. In the end, it’s better to be at peace with that. Yes, even if it means that I will never, ever can call the A. Lange & Söhne Datograph Up/Down in platinum my own…

We’re doing this just for you

And if that attitude is too new-age for you, just think about one last practical consequence you will have to face after bowing down to the one watch that rules them all. There would no longer be any need for you to keep reading all the wonderful articles here on Fratello. And we’re writing them especially for you, you know. Please keep that in mind before you set out on a quest in search of mythical creations.

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