The Holy Trinity of Philippine horology

Jesse Maxwell, Paolo Martel, and Franco Varona celebrate five years of bringing grail watches to the Philippines with the launch of a coffee table book

In the art and science of timekeeping, “the Holy Trinity “denotes the revered trio of Patek Philippe (PP), Audemars Piguet (AP), and Vacheron Constantin (VC). In the Philippines, the term might as well refer to Jesse Maxwell, Paolo Martel, and Franco Varona, co-founders of Vintage Grail, a premier hub for luxury timepieces.

A display of curated watches

A beacon in the world of horology, Vintage Grail commemorated its fifth anniversary with an evening of opulence at the prestigious Blackbird Restaurant in Makati. The significant milestone brought together connoisseurs and aficionados of fine timepieces for an unforgettable night of reflection, appreciation, and celebration.

In keeping with the esteemed reputation of Vintage Grail, the party exuded refinement par excellence. The taste of elegance set the tone of the event with guests welcomed with a curated selection of spirits and cocktails.

Vintage Grail Book Launch 2024-263.jpg
KEEPERS OF TIME From left: Jesse Maxwell, Paolo Martel, and Franco Varona 

The Macallan 12-year-old Single Malt Whiskey Sherry Oak delighted whiskey devotees while tequila enthusiasts savored the smoothness of Clase Azul Reposado Tequila.

From the exquisite Taittinger Brut Réserve Champagne to the timeless Buffalo Trace Old Fashioned and complex Salty Grapefruit Paloma, a libation to suit every palate was available.

Setting the affair into motion was Jesse Maxwell, co-Founder of Vintage Grail, who delivered the opening remarks.

A sumptuous four-course dinner crafted by the talented culinary artisans of Blackbird and Sala delighted the senses, with each dish meticulously paired with fine wines and spirits.

The meal began with an appetizer of semolina scrumpet paired with homecured trout, saffron aioli, and Nomad Kaluga caviar. This was followed by an indulgent asparagus risotto and butter-roasted lobster with shellfish bisque.

A stunning porcini-rubbed SRF black Wagyu striploin accompanied by tallow fondant potatoes, mushrooms, and a delectable horseradish emulsion was served for the main course.

The finale is a dessert of elderflower and vanilla-poached stone fruit complemented by fennel seed ice cream and pistachios.

The highlight of the evening was the awe-inspiring display of watches meticulously curated by Vintage Grail, which left guests spellbound.

Vintage Grail Book Launch 2024-11.jpg
Various Vintage Grail watches on display

Presented were the ageless Rolex Daytonas that covers the Pre-Daytona models like the Oyster Chronograph “Jean-Claude Killy” Ref. 6036, and Paul Newman models, Ref. 6239, Ref. 6262, and Ref. 6241.

Also showcased were the exclusive double-signed Tiffany & Co. gems that included the highly sought-after Patek Philippe Nautilus Moon Phase Double-Signed Tiffany & Co. Ref. 5712/1A and the exquisite Aquanaut Travel Time Double-Signed Tiffany & Co. Ref. 5164R.

The cutting-edge Audemars Piguet Research and Development series was brandished as well, with its groundbreaking Royal Oak RD#1, RD#2, and RD#3 models.

With its exquisite craftsmanship and rarefied design, the exclusive seven-piece limited-edition Jacob & Co. Bugatti Chiron Sapphire Crystal collection stands as a testament to innovation in horology. Each piece in this remarkable catalog encapsulates the epitome of sophistication, drawing admiration from all who beheld them.

Complementing this exceptional offering were the distinguished Richard Mille timepieces, including the mesmerizing pair of RM 35-03 “Rafael Nadal” watches in striking blue and white. Renowned for their avant-garde design and unparalleled precision, these timepieces exemplified the pinnacle of haute horlogerie, captivating the imagination with their blend of technical mastery and artistic expression.

Paolo Martel, co-founder and managing director of Vintage Grail, imparted insights and experiences garnered over the past five years, shedding light on the cornerstone of the company’s enduring success.

“Working closely with our clients, who have become friends, to curate their collections has been a remarkable privilege. Each one has somehow entrusted us with pushing boundaries and sourcing some of the most exquisite timepieces, many with their own story. This has transformed several transactions into lasting relationships,” says Paolo.

Vintage Grail's latest coffee book (Photo from Vintage Grail | Instagram)

Co-founder Franco Varona, on the other hand, unveiled the crowning jewel of the night, the Vintage Grail 5th Anniversary coffee table book titled Watches: A Journey Through Time & Style.

This masterpiece, enriched with exclusive insights from renowned collectors, chronicles the fascinating odyssey of watch collecting and the profound passion that propels it forward.

It contains unique perspectives from both internationally recognized and local collectors such as Aurel Bacs, John Reardon, Paul Boutros, Maurizio de Simone, Austen Chu, Zoe Abelson, Alice Eduardo, Archie Gonzalez, Bryan Villanueva, Chris Lichauco, Duday Tuason, Edwin Lim, Hayden Kho, JV Cobankiat, and Luivi Panlilio. Each page tells a story of passion, inspiration, and the distinctiveness of every timepiece, encapsulating the essence of Vintage Grail.

The event was graced with the presence of First Lady Liza Araneta-Marcos, Sen. Mark Villar, and Al Tengco, among others. Ferrari and BMW further upped the prestige of the evening, as they showcased fine cars from their iconic brands. Part of the spectacle was the Ferrari 458 Speciale Aperta and the BMW i7 xDrive60.

This fifth-anniversary celebration exemplified the relentless pursuit of excellence in the realm of timepieces. As their dedication to delivering exceptional timepieces to collectors across the country remains paramount, Vintage Grail’s years ahead are poised to be filled with anticipation and excitement.