For twenty years, Patek Phillipe has sold watches using the idea that you never actually own one of them, but “merely look after it for the next generation.” This might seem a risky ploy: Patek sells new watches, and does not profit from such inheritance. But the watches worn in the ads are current models, and their promise is not an heirloom exactly, but a watch that is simultaneously a mark of family history and available to buy today.
For many generations, young men learned the basics of men’s clothing from their fathers. Much of that patrimony dissipated in the Baby Boomer generation, as the man in the gray flannel suit was overthrown by hippies in jeans who grew up to be office workers in khakis and polos.
Making fine leather goods is like parenting a toddler – it’s difficult, dirty work and you don’t know if you’ve succeeded until years later. Even after decades of working with leather, Frank Clegg admits he’s still learning.