In the first of a series of staff profiles, we talk to David Hagon about how he first got into the business of selling watches and which watch he’d buy if he won the lottery…
I started out at the age of 16 – I didn’t know what to do and a friend of the family was in the jewellery business. They suggested I spend six months working with them until I figured something out. They owned six shops and were very keen on training. After about three months they said, ‘what do you think?’ and I realised I was enjoying myself, so they offered to pay for me to do my retail jewellery diploma. I worked with them for another four years but, in the end, moved on, as there was nowhere else to progress to. So, I moved to another, bigger business that had about 20 shops. I went on to work for various other jewellery companies over the next decade or so, ending up in Hatton Gardens. But, I was always much more interested in watches and, in 1987, an opportunity came up to join Patek Philippe in Bond Street. I got the job and stayed with them until I joined David’s team in 2002.
Patek Philippe was a wonderful company, but I liked the idea of having more control over what I did. By that I mean, here I can see the whole process of buying, selling, servicing. Plus there was the chance to work with some of the old Patek timepieces as well; the rare watches, such as the 1950s and 1960s moon phases and chronographs, minute-repeaters, they don’t show up so much in the modern boutiques. Here, we might have as many as eight minute-repeaters in the showroom. I don’t think anyone in Europe stocks the depth of Patek Philippes that we do.
I joined David’s team when we first opened the showroom here in the Burlington Arcade. I’d known him both personally and professionally for about 14 years by that point. I think he’s the most honest, straight-talking, decent chap that I’ve ever come across. He has very strict rules and is so straight-forward that he will always tell it how it is. Repeat business is key to how we work, so we’d rather lose a sale in the short term but make a client in the long run.
Men have this affinity with mechanical objects: pens, guns, cars, motorbikes, planes, boats. They like to see that mechanical thing working. At the same time, there’s not much in the way of jewellery for them – a wedding band, perhaps, and a watch. A watch says so much about you, as well. I think most men tend to look at wrists first.
Since it was first released 20 years ago, the Patek Philippe 5016 has been my all-time favourite watch. It’s got every relevant complication on it, it’s a minute-repeater, it’s a Tourbillon and it’s a perpetual calendar with a retro-grade date. It’s got every complication that you could possibly want, but it is stunningly beautiful. If I won the lottery tomorrow, that’s the watch I would buy straight away – a Steel Patek 5016 sold in 2015 for a cool 7.3 million Swiss Francs.
My next door neighbour of eight years says moving in next to me was the worst day of his life. When he first moved in he had six watches. Now he has 80.
Experience, knowledge, time; we’re always happy to spend time with people and to sit down and talk everything through with them. It’s not always about selling something now, but about putting the customer on the right course for the future. We have one client who has been coming to us for 36 years. I try to keep in touch with previous clients via phone calls and cards, little things to maintain contact, so that if they are ever on the lookout for something new they will consider coming back to us. We’ve got a fantastic team here – I’ve known all of them for more than 20 years. I think the other thing that makes us special is the security our clients get when they buy something from us. We give proper guarantees and cover everything. We also make sure that we’re 100% happy with every watch before we put it out on sale and, if we’re not, then we won’t sell it.
If you’re interested in buying a pre-owned, luxury watch, then contact the David Duggan showroom for advice on purchasing the perfect timepiece.