No other name represents haute horlogerie like Patek Philippe. This Genevan manufacturer unites luxury, tradition, and high-quality craftsmanship. The superb quality of their pieces is reflected in their prices and famous clientele.
- Inventor of many important complications such as the perpetual calendar and split-seconds chronograph
- Calatrava: the ultimate dress watch
- Nautilus: the elegant sport watch designed by Gérald Genta
- Gold and platinum used as the primary case materials
- Modern, in-house caliber with silinvar (silicon)
Independent and Highly Esteemed
Patek Philippe is one of the few remaining manufacturers that doesn't belong to a larger concern
. They are still family-owned
, which contributes to their value and good reputation - and not just by experts. Nearly every piece used in the watches is built by Patek Philippe themselves. In this regard, they are comparable to their competitor Rolex
. These are two of the most distinguished luxury brands worldwide. A Patek Philippe is the crowning piece of any watch collector's collection. These watches are also perfect everyday watches for those who want to show off what they've got.
This Geneva-based manufacturer offers over 200 unique watch models. Their style tends to be more on the conservative side. While stainless steel is often used in these watches, they use white, yellow, and rose gold more often than many other manufacturers.
Classic Patek Philippe watches include the Calatrava
collection, introduced in 1932. The designers modeled this series after the Bauhaus style
, which was new and revolutionary at the time. This school of design represented a reduction to the bare necessities and an extensive renunciation of decorative elements. It heavily influenced art throughout the 20th century, especially the fields of architecture and furniture design.
The Ellipse d'Or collection, released in 1968, is even more streamlined than the Calatrava series. The pieces in this collection feature two hands and an incredibly thin mechanical movement. The men's series Gondolo and the women's series Twenty-4 both feature watches with rectangular cases.
Patek Philippe has an entire collection dedicated to complicated watches
. These feature moon phases
, world times, or power reserve indicators
. One level up are the Grand Complications
watches. These watches have extras such as chimes
, a tourbillon
, and leap year indicators
. These complications require high levels of craftsmanship and are examples of the incredible capabilities of Patek Philippe's watchmakers. Other Swiss manufacturers who make watches with complications are Blancpain
, both of which have similarly long traditions.
series are both water resistant up to 120 meters. They have rather modern designs which set them apart from other Patek Philippe watches. The Nautilus was designed by the famous watch designer Gérald Genta
, who also designed the Royal Oak
by Audemars Piguet. The Nautilus was released in 1976. At first, with its porthole look
and stainless steel case, it was a bit of an acquired taste. Today, it is considered an iconic sport watch. While the Nautilus and the Aquanaut are kept relatively streamlined, there are a few exceptions. For example, there is a white gold Nautilus set with around 1,700 diamonds and its price runs similar to that of a baseline Rolls Royce.
Are you searching for an elegant, prestigious watch? Then a Patek Philippe is the right choice for you. Its reputation and stable value make this watch more than just a timepiece - it's also an excellent investment.
The Calatrava is considered a symbol of the company
. It is the ideal dress watch
, going well with an expensive, tailor-made suit. The Calatrava, reference number 5119, plays an important role in Patek Philippe's current collection. It is the successor to the beloved 3919 Calatrava, which was produced from 1985 to 2006. Both watches feature a guilloched
bezel and a small seconds
at six o'clock. The thin feuille hands and Roman numeral hour markers emphasize its classic feel. You should plan to spend at least 8,000 euros
on a Calatrava 3919 in very good condition. A new 5119 costs around 15,000 euros. If you prefer a 1950s-style design, then the Calatrava 5196
is a better choice with its dauphine hands and stick indices. New, it costs about 16,000 euros.
is Patek Philippe's sporty watch. Traditional purists enjoy the stainless steel model. The watch originally had the reference number
3700/1; the version today is identified by the number 5711/1. Gérald Genta had planned for a steel case, and the current 5711/1 version remains the closest to the designer's original wishes, despite its golden versions. New, a stainless steel Nautilus costs around 27,000 euros
. It's rare for a steel watch to cost this much, and it is a reflection of Patek Philippe's exclusivity.
If you are drawn to watches with intricate movements that truly represent haute horlogie, then Patek Philippe has two fittingly named collections for you: Complications
and Grand Complications
. You can find gems here for up to 100,000 euros, or even ten times that. Complications included in this class of luxury watch are the perpetual calendar, minute repeater, double chronograph
, and tourbillon. Aside from yellow, red, and white gold, platinum is also often used as a case material.
Modern Caliber Technology, Unique Quality Seal
Patek Philippe also features a few watches with quartz movements. The manufacturer even invented the first so-called solid-state quartz watch
with no moving parts and had it patented in 1959.
However, Patek Philippe is better known for mechanical watches made with in-house movements. Their calibers have a few special features. In 1949, the company patented the "Gyromax," a special type of balance wheel that is still in use today. While regular balance wheels feature weight adjustment screws on the outside of the rim, the Gyromax has weights set in it. Therefore, it has an increased moment of inertia, which in turn increases its precision. Patek Philippe has used the material Silinvar in their escapements since 2005. Similar to silicon, it's anti-magnetic and extremely hard. Due to this hardness, there is less friction in the movement and it doesn't require lubrication. The manufacturer presented the first balance spring made from this high-tech material in 2006.
Patek Philippe has always been scaling back the external delivery of movements and pieces. In 2005, the company introduced their first in-house chronograph caliber
. Since 2012, they have been producing all chronograph movements themselves, although they had previously used movements from other manufacturers. For example, the first Nautilus used a caliber based on the 920 by Jaeger-LeCoultre. Audemars Piguet used it for the first Royal Oak as well, and Vacheron Constatin for the 222. Valjoux and Lemania also used to deliver to Patek Philippe.
In 2009, Patek Philippe introduced and began using their own seal, which is a mark for passing the most demanding quality test for mechanical watches worldwide. Previously, they had used the Geneva Seal, which has been the sign of high-quality watches from that canton since 1886. A significant difference between the two is that the new testing methods are for the entire, finished watch. According to the old Geneva Seal rules, separate movements could receive certificates.
The Inventor of the Crown
In 1839, Polish watchmaker and emigrant Antoni Patek (1811 - 1877) began producing pocket watches in Geneva. There, he combined forces with his French colleague Adrien Philippe (1815 - 1894) in 1845. Philippe's father had been a watchmaker and taught his son the craft. In 1844, Philippe had unveiled an invention to the world of watches that is ubiquitous today: the crown. Before this, movements were usually wound using a key, much like many large clocks today. The company has existed under the name Patek Philippe since 1851.
The two business partners participated in the Great Exhibition of 1851 in London, where Queen Victoria purchased two watches: one for herself, and one for Prince Albert. Danish and Italian royalty also became members of their distinguished clientele. In addition, a partnership with the New York jeweler Tiffany & Co. began during a trip to the United States when the American retailer ordered 130 watches. In 1902, Patek Philippe patented the first double chronograph and in 1925, they introduced the first wristwatch with a perpetual calendar. In 1932, the Stern family took over the business. Since 2010, Thierry Stern has led the company. Patek Philippe produces around 50,000 watches per year.
Queen Victoria wasn't the only one who appreciated Patek Philippe. Two of her successor's most prominent subjects, Beatles members Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr
, had an affinity for these watches. They each wore an Aquanaut for some time, though Rolex's Submariner
may have been more fitting for the singers of "Yellow Submarine." The Dalai Lama
wears a Patek Philippe chronograph gifted to him by President John F. Kennedy, and actor Brad Pitt
wears a Nautilus.
A Rivalry Between Watch Collectors
Patek Philippe has always defined themselves by their excellence. In 1933, after three years of development and five years of manufacturing, the Henry Graves Supercomplication, an 18-karat gold timepiece, was finally completed. Banker Henry Graves Jr. had commissioned the watch in order to outdo the pocket watches commissioned by automaker James Ward Packard. Packard owned a dozen complicated Patek Philippe timepieces, which he had collected over the course of 25 years. Graves and Packard were two of the leading watch collectors of their time and had an ongoing competition that the Supercomplication ended. The watch is composed of 920 individual pieces and has 24 impressive complications. These include a perpetual calendar, Westminster Quarters, the sunrise and sunset time, and Graves' Fifth Avenue apartment view of the starry sky over New York City. In November 2014, the pocket watch was sold for a record price of 24 million dollars at an auction. Graves initially paid 60,000 Swiss francs when he commissioned the watch, which is equal to about $200,000 USD today. The Supercomplication is the most complicated watch ever built without computer assistance. In 1989, Patek Philippe celebrated their 150th anniversary and unveiled the Calibre 89 pocket watch, which is even more complicated than the Supercomplication with 1,728 individual pieces.
In November 2016, Patek Philippe broke another record: A watch with reference number 1518 was sold at an auction for 9.6 million Swiss francs. It was the highest price a wristwatch had ever been sold for. This precious timepiece is a stainless steel chronograph with a perpetual calendar.