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The tale of ninety four calendar year old Charles Woehrle, a previous prisoner of war and very pleased Patek Philippe owner, captured the eye from the media very last thirty day period when he built an visual appearance on NBCâs Right now exhibit to inform of how he had ordered a Patek wristwatch when imprisoned through the second world war, just how much joy the look at introduced him, and after that sadly, how the observe experienced been stolen from him several years afterwards back again within the US. His niece, Louise, was building a movie on her uncleâs time in prison camp and contacted Patek Philippe about his story. Patek tracked down a replica watch very similar to the one he had worn and dropped, and presented it to him. The end result was an article while in the NY Times as well as a amazing human interest tale.Mens Watches
We wished to know much more, like just what was the enjoy that he dropped and just what experienced Patek replaced it with. Currently show host Lester Holt produced the misstep of calling Woehrleâs new piece a âreplicaâ â had Patek recreated one much like the initial It failed to seem very likely. So, we sent Jason to Mr. Woehrleâs home to hear from your man himself. Below you have got the small print of which kind of view Woehrle had worn through his time in Stalag Luft III, what sort of Patek he has actually been supplied, how Patek sourced that view, and a amazing glimpse at an interesting and charming male.
I wasnt a collector and didnt know significantly about replica watches, says Charles Woehrle as he shifts in his chair. But Ive always worn a replica watch.
Sure enough, poking out from under his crisp, buttoned shirtsleeve is a well-used quartz observe on a steel bracelet. It is not the Patek Philippe that has built Woehrle a celebrity during the replica watch collecting community and earned him an look on NBCs Now present in addition to a feature within the New York Occasions. But you dont reach age 94 without being practical. I dont have to wind this just one every day, he says with a smile.
Woehrle with Patek Philippe USA President Larry Pettinelli Being Photographed for the NY TimesCharles Woehrle is a fastidious person. Hardly bowed by age, he greeted me at the door of his St. Paul, Minnesota, assisted living apartment with a firm handshake, wearing a striped oxford shirt, wool trousers and polished loafers. He motioned for me to sit on his sofa in a tidy, inviting livingroom. There is evidence of his war days â framed photos of soldiers, American flags, warplane models â even a seat cushion that he needlepointed while he was a prisoner of war. Woehrle handed me a copy of your May, 2011 issue of Patek Philippes in-house magazine, opened to an post. This was the first place the story was told, Woehrle says.
By now, the tale of Woehrles Patek Philippe is familiar to replica watch enthusiasts, thanks to the aforementioned Currently demonstrate look, Instances write-up along with a piece below on HODINKEE. Woehrle was imprisoned for 22 months inside the infamous German POW camp, Stalag Luft III, in what is now part of Poland. A person day, he found a Patek Philippe promotional pamphlet with a small mail-in coupon for additional information. Woehrle filled out the coupon and wrote a note requesting a check out for which he would pay when he got dwelling after the war. He despatched it off, not really holding out much hope.
Woehrle with his bunkmates in Moosburg, Germany after the 70 mile forced March from Stalag Luft IIIFour months passed and he experienced forgotten about the observe entirely when a parcel arrived for him at the camp. The camp commandant at first refused to give it to Woehrle, worried that he would use the valuable contents to bribe a guard. But a reassurance from Woehrles commanding officer released the package and Woehrle became the proud proprietor of a stainless steel Patek Philippe reference 1461. It fascinated his fellow prisoners and the guards alike and introduced a glimmer of pleasure to a very desperate circumstance.
After General Patton liberated the camp in Bavaria, Woehrle returned to America, Patek still strapped to his wrist. The 1461 stayed there for a lot more that 30 decades, other than those moments when Woehrle despatched to Patek in Geneva for regular adjustment and lubrication. He eventually got into the film business and was able to pay for his check out, then worth about $300. Fast forward towards the mid-1970s. Woehrle and his wife were returning home one particular cold Minnesota evening when they saw a burglar fleeing their house. Gone was Woehrles camera equipment, stereo system, some silver pieces and his beloved Patek Philippe. Some of your stolen items were recovered but never the observe.
The Patek Philippe 1461 â As worn by Woehrle even though imprisoned.Louise Woehrle, the daughter of Charless twin brother, can be thanked by Patek enthusiasts for bringing this story out from the shadows of history. Louise has followed in her uncles footsteps as a filmmaker and is working on a documentary about his life in Stalag Luft III. When cleaning up his household and collecting memorabilia for Louises film project, Woehrle came across the envelope and letter he received from Patek Philippe affirming the companys willingness to send him the enjoy. In a twist of wartime postal hijinks, the letter arrived after the check out was delivered and Woehrle held on to it for the next 60 years. Louise, upon seeing the letter and hearing the tale of your jail camp Patek, took it upon herself to contact the company to try to find a replacement for her uncle. The company also recognized the power of Woehrles story and asked if they could write about it for their enthusiasts magazine. In the meantime, they also attempted to track down a replacement.
Woerhle stands up and walks to a side table where the familiar shape of a enjoy box sits. He takes it to his chair and slowly, ceremonially proceeds to open it, lifting off the outer box, and afterwards folding back the cloth to reveal its polished wooden inner box. In some sleight of hand, I noticed that the quartz look at was gone and the Patek was already on Woehrles wrist as he finished opening the box. It is thin, almost delicate with a narrow black strap. It suits the man perfectly, as if it were manufactured for him.
(L) Woehrle opening the presentation box from Patek Philippe (R) Woehrleâs new (vintage) Patek Ref 1584JAs it happens, Patek Philippe could not find a replacement reference 1461 â vintage Pateks in steel are very desirable and just as difficult to find. So they found the next best thing: a reference 1584J in yellow gold from your mid-1950s, with a handwound 720410 calibre inside. They managed to track it down through their dealer network and experienced it completely refurbished at the factory. Final thirty day period, Woehrle flew to New York for the presentation of his new enjoy at Pateks New York offices. He was also supplied a hardcover book about the history in the storied manufacture as well as a framed certificate bearing a note of thanks and the observe reference, movement and case numbers.
The handwritten letter to Woehrle documenting his gifted PatekThey had a replica watchmaker open up the back again so I could see the escapement. Did you know these are all handmade Woehrle beams with both awe and pride.
The 1584J is comparable to the 1461 that Woehrle wore through the darkest several years of his life, with snap-on caseback, elegant lugs along with a simple dial. But it is perhaps fitting that this one particular is designed from a precious metal, polished gold, for a man in his golden yrs who treasures it not for its intrinsic value or its name but for what it represents â memories of difficult days and the kindness and trust of a enjoy company, both in 1943 and in 2011.
As I bade farewell to Charles Woehrle, with his firm handshake, I was reminded that what draws us to timepieces are not so a great deal the replica watches themselves but the stories and the people behind them.
To see video footage of Charles Woehrle and find out far more about the upcoming documentary, Stalag Luft III: A single Mans Story, visit the films site at
Live photos by Gishani Ratnayake. Archival photos courtesy of Louise Woehrle.