Mishal Kanoo and his Patek Philippe watch with King Saud of Saudi Arabia on the face. Photographs by Siddharth Siva

I bought it at Christie’s

Watch collector Mishal Kanoo explains why he felt compelled to buy this unique Patek Philippe wristwatch, which depicts King Saud of Saudi Arabia on its face

‘There is a lot more to a watch — any watch — than meets the eye. I am fascinated with their inner workings. A watch mechanism is an engine, and the person who made the first watch with a counterbalance was inventing a kind of perpetual motion machine. So long as such a watch is worn, the kinetic energy of its owner will keep it going forever.

‘Part of the reason I wanted this wristwatch was its connection to the region where I live. King Saud came to the throne of Saudi Arabia in 1953, and the watch dates from 1955, so perhaps this series was commissioned to mark his accession — I don’t know. But as far as I am aware, this is the only Patek ever to feature a miniature portrait on its face, and that makes it unique.

‘I don’t usually attend an auction in person, unless it is in Dubai and I can go home when I’ve had enough’

‘I have three categories of watch: everyday ones that I am not too worried about damaging or losing; dress watches for special occasions; and watches that I would never normally wear but want to own anyway. This piece belongs to category three. 

‘I often buy at auction. For me, the worst time of year is the summer, when there are no sales. I don’t usually attend in person, unless the auction is in Dubai and I can go home when I’ve had enough. Though the advantage of being there is that you can adjust: if you miss out on one or two pieces, you can go for others that you might have had half an eye on.

‘My King Saud wristwatch is part of a set that also includes a pocketwatch. Neither was easy to come by, but I have both — acquired at different Christie’s auctions. I haven’t been able to get the box that goes with them — at least, it hasn’t popped up yet. But I live in hope.’