Now I’m a believer in Patek of Geneva!

Patek Philippe, the super-luxury, Geneva-based Swiss watch brand that makes Rolex look about as exclusive as my Casio, has been running a series of award-winning ad campaigns on its Generations theme for nearly a quarter of a century now. Perhaps because I am not in the market for these products and have little exposure to the lifestyle magazines etc. where I imagine they are promoted, I have only just noticed.

The latest theme in the Generations campaign: Modern Fatherhood

Now that I have, I am bowled over by these fabulous productions – the ads, that is, not the watches, which come at crazy prices with far too many noughts on the end for me to consider buying one. Thank goodness, I don’t want to: my modest plastic thing tells the time just as well as PP’s haute horology and that is all I need. In common, I would think, with most heretics here, I have a hearty disdain for brand-addicted consumerism. The life of the mind is our snooty emphasis here – call it the elitism of the have-nots! I speak for myself, of course: doubtless some Heretic TOC readers are millionaires and perhaps even billionaires but they are not so vulgar as to brag about it!
A glance at the photos on this page will suffice to explain my enthusiasm for the ads, which have been unusual for featuring men and drop-dead gorgeous boys (these days also women and attractive girls) together in contexts of an implied bond between them. As the Generations tag flags up, the bond is of course meant to be a family one, hence totally safe and proper for PP’s ads, which have an heirloom theme. The unchanging (for the males at least) slogan is “You never actually own a Patek Philippe. You merely look after it for the next generation.”
To us kind folk, of course, there is “romantic” appeal, for want of a better word: these couples could be lovers rather than parent and child. Not that parenthood lacks a certain below-the-radar erotic frisson: not even the incest taboo can prevent mums and dads from feeling a rewarding physical buzz from hugging, smelling, kissing their kids. But for most parents, especially fathers, the pleasure they take in their kids’ bodies are difficult to acknowledge without fear and embarrassment: the feelings are kept on a tight leash and in most cases probably do not rise to a conscious level – not as regards genital sexuality at least.
Let’s not go any further down that road today, though. Let’s just take the ad on its own terms for a while, enjoying the pictures, of which some samples are shown from the latest campaign and others; let’s also take a look at the company, the products, and what is going on in brand terms. In order to understand the power of the brand we need to learn something about the pedigree. In PP’s own website words:

Patek Philippe has been pursuing traditional Genevan watchmaking artistry without interruption since 1839. The manufacture benefits from full creative freedom, which allows it to design, develop, and craft watches that connoisseurs consider to be the world’s finest – as pledged by its founders Antoine Norbert de Patek and Adrien Philippe. In addition to exceptional skills, Patek Philippe also nurtures a tradition of innovation that has meanwhile been crowned by over one hundred patents.

These basics probably sound a bit bland and underwhelming. Few companies can boast such a long tradition as this one, for sure, but practically every enterprise bigs itself up with glowing prose. It is only when we get to the prices and the customers that things get really impressive. US Chief Justice John Roberts was spotted wearing a Patek Philippe costing $49,780 recently, while he was presiding at the impeachment trial of President Trump. But that’s nothing. Rapper and business mogul Jay-Z rocked up to an NFL game at Miami’s Hard Rock Stadium recently sporting a platinum Patek Philippe “Sky Moon Celestial Ref. 6102P”, whatever that is (don’t worry, you can find out here). This timepiece retails for an awesome $311,860. At auction, what’s more, the crème de la crème of these small objects of desire fetch £ millions.

Booking gorgeous! An image from an earlier Generations campaign

By now, I guess, you’re really beginning to get the measure of PP’s prestige. What seals the deal for me, though, is that the brand’s fans have long since gone way beyond your run-of-the-mill celebs. The Great and the Good whose esteemed personages have been adorned by PP watches include: Pablo Picasso, Peter Tchaikovsky, Richard Wagner, Charlotte Brontë, Marie Curie, Albert Einstein, Rudyard Kipling, 14th Dalai Lama, Leo Tolstoy, Pope Pius IX, Pope Leo XIII , Nicolas Sarkozy, Vladimir Putin, Nelson Mandela, John F. Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson, George H.W. Bush, Emperor Franz Joseph I of Austria, King Farouk of Egypt, Emperor Haile Selassie, Tsar Nicholas II of Russia, Queen Victoria and her husband Prince Albert, Queen Elizabeth II and her heir apparent, Charles, Prince of Wales.What might seem odd, though, if you have been as knocked out as I was by the toppest list of Top People you have ever seen, is an astute commentator’s claim that the advertising is not aimed at Top People. Not the fabled top 1% at least. Apparently they never need to be told that PP is the watch for them: they just know, either from being brought up in that world or later immersion in it once they are well on their way to their first $ billion.
No, according to an influential anonymous blog called The Last Psychiatrist (reputedly written by an actual shrink), the ads are aimed not at the 1% but at the demographic immediately below, dubbed “the Aspirational 14%” by TLP. At first glance the 14 looks spuriously exact but what is meant, I guess, is the chunky lower portion of the top 15% once we discount the very top. Anyway, in a 2011 article titled “Luxury Branding the Future Leaders of the World”, TLP tells us about this target demographic:

They know they are supposed to like quality and goodness and etiquette and discretion, but no one ever taught them what those things look like, so when someone does point it out to them they will go all in.

Goodness? Did I see “goodness” in the mix there? My goodness, that’s a big concept to wind a watch up with! “Quality”, another sizeable abstract noun (as anyone who read Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance will remember) would seem to speak of the product’s attributes, referencing the expert, painstaking quality of workmanship involved, the exquisite design, the jewels and precious metals that go into it, etc.  But “goodness”? Would that be goodness as in moral virtue, speaking to the nurturing side of parenthood, or something of that sort?

Modern Fatherhood, 2019: the father model with his two real-life sons

TLP provides a very witty, insightful, in-depth reading of the ad campaign’s covert semiotics. I cannot improve on his piece, especially as regards his daringly non-PC take on the extension of the campaign beyond its original focus on fathers and sons to include mothers and daughters.
However, TLP was writing nearly a decade ago. So what’s new in 2020? Late last year the company brought out its latest version of the Generations campaign. This time, as the company’s website notes inform us, the theme is “Modern Fatherhood”, which is characterised, we are told, by men who are “likely to spend more time with their children and be more open with their emotions than previous generations may have been comfortable with”. For this campaign, “Instead of portraying scenarios as in prior motifs (travel, learning, shared discoveries, etc.), the new motif … focuses on the father-son relationship within a more private, intimate and relaxed context.” For the first time, this Generations campaign features two children, “making it possible to place a stronger emphasis on the coming generation”. Both of the boys are the adult model’s own sons.
Sepia for the ladies, not monochrome. A different slogan, too: Something truly precious holds its beauty forever.

I am not going to attempt a deep “what are they really saying and selling” study along the lines of TLP’s brilliant insights. I will just offer a personal response that might have more resonance with heretics here. The first image I ever set eyes on in a PP campaign was a still photo for Modern Fatherhood. It was shot in an outdoor setting featuring just one boy and man. The pair are hugging, with the much smaller figure caught under a protective fold of the bigger one’s overcoat. Seen like this they might be lovers, not least because the guy hardly seems old enough for the father role: could he in real life even have been a teenage dad?
The thrillingly transgressive illusion that we are being presented with a public and prestigious celebration of paedophilic love is shattered, alas, when encountering the full campaign. This includes a video that unambiguously reveals the improbably wealthy young dude – with the scene set in his beautiful home and gardens – as a father of two sons, the younger one hardly more than a toddler. Oh, well, I guess we can enjoy the nice pictures anyway!
Terrified as I am as to where Boris Johnson’s bright new Brexit dawn will be taking us, credit should be given where it is due. When Britain’s present prime minister was foreign secretary last year his tenure of the office was widely considered disastrous, but he did get at least one thing right at that time.
Last March, he told LBC radio: “I think an awful lot of money, an awful lot of police time, now goes into these historic offences and all this malarkey, and you know £60m I saw has been spaffed up the wall on some investigation into historic child abuse? What on earth is that going to do to protect the public now?”
Quite! We must hope he will insist on a change of direction now that he has the power to make it happen. He could start by closing down the ruinously expensive and farcically inept Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA), although he will not be in time to stop its current West End run, which sees a new report coming out on Tuesday. This is what was supposed to have been the big one, the report on all those mega-sensational “V.I.P. paedophilia” scandals at the heart of government. Except it wasn’t. There was no giant conspiracy as alleged. All the most sensational claims turned out to be the work of fantasists who were given too much credibility by the police.
Heretics here may recall that I was contacted by the official solicitor to this strand of the inquiry and asked to give evidence. After doing so, letting them have a piece of my mind in the process, I received a letter from IILSA giving me formal notification that I might be criticised in the eventual inquiry report. We’ll soon see! They may not have liked my opinions (which were redacted out of the official record as irrelevant) but Brian Altman QC, counsel to IICSA, could not fault my factual contribution and appears to have drawn the right conclusions from it. Again, though, we’ll soon see.

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Right now, a lot of adults fear the rapid growth – and further persistence – of authoritarianism, of intense surveillance, restriction and repression, both offline and even online, under the banner of “counter-pandemic” measures.
And their fears are, sadly, well-founded. We indeed see a rise of authoritarian behaviour from nearly all governments, and I shiver at the thought how will it end.
Yet, there is one aspect of current worldwide, multifaceted attack on personal and communal freedom that I found somewhat ironic.
The adults, who are now experiencing the harsh restrictions on their freedoms, imposed on them by the governments, are simply being treated the way the children are commonly treated by adults nowadays. In fact, the way most of these adults would enthusiastically approve similar restrictions, as long as they are directed at kids, and many of them are themselves imposing such restrictions on their own kids – on a daily basis, without any “exceptional emergency” justification at all!


Indeed the entire business has had this eerie quality of being a whole new kind of *Gleichschaltung* from the first moment that, say, Google newsfeeds stopped providing an option to be ‘not interested in this’ along with the now proliferating stories of near identical nature. The point has been reached where, as one detailed account of that massive drive to bring everything in Germany into conformity puts it, “henceforth one stream alone will be permitted to flow throughout the body politic”.
But Kindrades (if you will!), I think every one of us must resist degenerating into paranoia at all costs. Now that (as Furedi writes so very well at Spiked) the sea-change is complete from a global human community that values resilience as its primary virtue to one that values vulnerability above all, we need every mental and physical resource we can possibly muster on hand. I’d like to suggest, as many have done in spheres quite.. ‘removed’ from this one, that we try to share w/ one another as much as possible features of the experiential curve we are now negotiating..
As exemplary of one woman who is doing just that, and with tremendous flair and lucidity, I’d like to introduce (if you do not already know her) my Kindrades to the newsletters out of Paris from American expat/Oxford scholar Claire Berlinski, daughter of the rather fabulous mathematician, philosopher and thorn in evolutionary-DOGMA’s side, David Berlinski. Claire clearly possesses what one can only call communicative grace in abundance

Andrew Meier

I’m an adult and I welcome the restrictions. I don’t see them as authoritarian in any negative sense of the word. The restrictions are proportionate, just as many other restrictions imposed on adults and children are. Not all restrictions imposed by lawmakers are proportionate, of course, but in the present situation I see more adults celebrating the mitigation of risk rather than lamenting the curtailment of freedom.

Jed Jones

I hope you obtained a transcript of your redacted evidence, Tom. Also hope you and yours are safe and well, and by that I mean the whole community. Any chance you could just poke your nose round the door here and let us know how your are?


Might I just mention here that the UK’s perhaps most severely anxiety-inducing TV show ever – I speak of the one called “Breeders” – committed in its third episode the most egregiously gratuitous paedo-slur to date? The rather rodent-faced male ead, faced with the possibility that his grocery delivery might be late, snarls over his phone to the driver “if my kids get diddled in a shed by some bearded nonce because you couldn’t deliver on time… ” It is quite mind-bogglingly gratuitous because the entire show is set to begin with in a London resembling a virtual nanny-state fortress, where one’s very ‘neighbours’ count the bottles in one’s recycling bins and the kids themselves look like sickly demons made from toxic emotional adult-waste.. Well I could go on but I stopped watching promptly at that point.. for what more grim a reminder could one ever get than this one that progress on the front amounts to zero?


>>Would I be right in guessing that it is this character, “Paul”, who utters the gratuitous comment in question? If so, it suggests the audience are not necessarily being invited to agree that his outburst is reasonable, only to sympathise with his difficulties in handling parenthood.
That is the name of the show’s male lead, yes. I’m truly surprised at how remarkably, well, tolerant you seem to be here, Tom! All I heard was today’s exact equivalent of somebody angrily blurting “if some nigger buggers my wife in a shed because you couldn’ t… etc” Alabama circa 1925? In other words the conjuring of an instant monstrosity corresponding to no real person or event, and guaranteed to reinforce in a million British mindsets an image whose only frame can be that of blind, preconceived disgust. I cannot imagine a single viewer thinking ‘well by golly I don’t think that is very reasonable!’ The image has been re-planted and there it will stay and most unmerrily ferment. Yes the show is witty as hell just as you’d expect, if erring in the side of downright slick at many points, and virtually drenched in anxiety. For a person such as myself for whom anguish of one kind or another is a relentless companion it’s probably not the show to watch!
Highly instructive methinks to consider in contrast the fine American show ‘dealing with’ similar subject matter, but somewhat older offspring, “Better Things” .

Andrew Meier

It’s also beardist, and baselessly assumes that a shed would be the vehicle of choice for an abuser.


Has (or had) anyone here problems with visiting Marthijn Uittenbogaard’s website, Recently, all my attempts to enter his website fail invariably. Maybe, a hackers’ attack? Hopefully it wasn’t banned by the authorities…
Any information would be helpful!


I have the same problem with IPCE – I just can’t reach it.
Any similar experiences? Any ideas that can help?
Your replies would be truly appreciated!


Hey everyone, learn about jury nullification! Jurors should refuse to convict for most if not every sexual abuse case being brought today.

Here’s a video explaining jury nullification.

Andrew Meier

I’m tempted to question your enthusiasm, galileo, for the following reason. The term used in England and Wales, ‘perverse verdict’, is a little more accurate, as the term ‘jury nullification’ doesn’t recognise the opposite (but quite real) possibility, namely that a jury might see fit to find a defendant guilty despite the evidence not quite meeting the required standard of proof (beyond reasonable doubt). It is at least conceivable that in criminal trials on emotive topics (e.g. child sexual abuse, indecent images, etc.) a jury might be more ready to deliver a guilty verdict if aware of the concept and viability of the perverse verdict.
This is not to say that a jury could find a defendant guilty on no evidence whatsoever. The public prosecutor will not pursue a case without there being a reasonable prospect of conviction, and a judge has the authority to throw a case out if he/she deems it to be without merit. But if it goes the distance, the jury can’t be quizzed on their reasons (or penalised) for the verdict they have given, and in itself perceived perversity of a verdict doesn’t constitute grounds for appeal.


Apparently Britain is not the only country obsessed by the “historical offences” – the USA is taking its example… Or is it Britain that take the example of the USA, along with the rest of Europe?
What do you think of this?

Andrew Meier

A thing of beauty is a joy forever
– Opening line of Endymion (Keats)
The moral sense in mortals is the duty
We have to pay on mortal sense of beauty.
– The lines of the ‘old poet’ in Lolita (Nabokov)
And on a less cryptic note, I once traced the history of the Werther’s Original adverts, noting that as the child receiving the sweet is increasingly beautified in a manner that appeals to an adult palate, the adult delivering the sweet is increasingly asexualised and the physical proximity between the two decreases.
In the most recent incarnation I’ve seen (, a beautiful girl, now reduced to a figment of the imagination of the woman she will eventually become (adding conceptual distance, perhaps to assuage fears about a real child being allowed so close to an elderly man unattended), receives a sweet from a chaste-seeming, almost Santa-like figure, the closest they come to physical contact being their hands holding either side of the sweet. Thus the sweet itself becomes not only the locus of but also a proxy for an intergenerational connection that has dwindled from our cultural landscape. The only other adult to be granted any degree of prominence in the advert (through having his face and facial expression briefly shown) is a man whose smile borders on that of the harmless simpleton and who doesn’t get to look at the beautiful girl once, let alone twice. The whole scene is captured in rich, aureate tones not dissimilar to the mother-and-daughter advert above.
The evolution of the Werther’s adverts is one of many trends in which my amateur eye discerns a proportional relationship between increased beautification of the child (which in some manifestations might be deemed sexualisation) and increased cultural anxiety about sexualisation, the erotic potential of the juvenile body, and children’s sexuality and sexual expression.

Zen Thinker

The advertising seems to fulfil a bourgeois ideal of the parent-child bond, in a kind of genetically perfect elitist fashion, in keeping with the exclusivity of the product. Good advertising can be an exercising of the imagination, like any art form; I like maybe 5% of advertising for its imaginative and creative potential – most of the advertising industry unfortunately is trash designed to appeal to raw emotion.
The wealthy bourgeois (I mean the 1%) are obsessed with immaculate and genetically superior nuclear families. It is an attractive vision and I too can become enchanted with high profile families. However it is also a bit illusory and a step outside the normal bounds of life. This advertising campaign is charming but in concrete terms there is little beyond the promotion of elitist nuclear families.
Yet I am a dreamer, who often lives in a fantasy world of my own reckoning, being uncomfortable with life’s harsh opaque realities. So sure, I see the value in this.


Regarding the second part. Indeed, it does nothing to protect people now. That money would be better spent on education, health, public safety and things alike. I’m glad he arrived at that conclusion. Hopefully, other nations will follow suit.

Michael Teare-Williams

My dear Tom, firstly, thanks for the Patek Philippe piece. You are right, the younger models are truly drop-dead gorgeous!
Secondly, Boris is known for being outspoken — sometimes misguidedly so — but he has uttered real sense with criticism of the obsession that the po-lice and the media have with ‘historical’ events. The saddest thing of all about this is the fact that prosecutors then run with the obviously rubbish evidence. These people, being educated, have far less reason to believe such obvious fibbers?
Again, my thanks for the brilliant blog! Best possible wishes, M T-W.

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