Taking place in 2022, one of the world’s biggest and most exquisite private collections of luxury watches will be on display for free at London’s The Design Museum. Following the London showcase, the OAK Collection International Exhibition will embark on a global tour visiting the Middle East, Asia and North America.
The private owner of the collection does not wish to be named but what is known about them is that they attended school in Switzerland as a child before going on to become a successful businessman. Growing up in Switzerland he was surrounded by luxury timepieces he couldn’t afford but endeavoured to create a world class collection when he was able to, with his first watch – a Cartier Tank – purchased with some winnings off the horse races.
Today, the collection he amassed is known as the OAK collection, which stands for One of a Kind. While the full collection consists of some 500 watches, only 160 of the best will be on display. Including the biggest collection of Patek Philippes owned by the famous collector and tycoon Henry Graves Junior in a private collection.
Patek Philippe plays a large part in the exhibition as they are one of the collector’s favourites and almost half of the display space is dedicated to the brand. There are separate rooms for Patek’s Rare Handcrafts, Calatravas, the Nautilus, Perpetual Calendars/Complications, World Timers, Chronographs and the aforementioned Henry Graves Jnr collection. References include the Ref. 530R from 1956, double signed by the retailer Gobbi Milano and the Ref. 2499J 1-of-1 perpetual calendar chronograph. For many the idea of owning one such time piece is impossible, let alone enough to fill multiple rooms with each.
There is a similarly preposterous but incredible number of Rolexes on display, like this genuine Paul Newman dial Daytona, alongside other sections of the exhibit for upcoming independent watchmakers like F.P. Journe and Voutilainen. The collector is also known to have bought 10 watches from the Only Watch auction across its eight events – the most of any individual – helping to fund research into Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy.
This is the first time a private collection of such size and quality has been made available to view by the public for free. And chances are, it’ll be the last time for many years. It’s also the inaugural exhibition of the OAK collection, which until now has mostly been kept secret. You can visit it at The Design Museum in London in 2022, keep an eye out for dates on the Design Museum website.
More details at Design Museum.