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Patek Philippe: Prestige Par Excellence
No other name represents haute horlogerie like Patek Philippe. This Genevan manufacturer unites luxury, tradition, and high-quality craftsmanship in some of the world's most exquisite watches. Their watches are both status symbols and investments.
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Independent and Highly Esteemed
Patek Philippe is one of the few remaining independent Genevan watch manufacturers. They are still family-owned, which contributes to their good reputation — and not just among experts. Patek Philippe builds nearly every component for their watches themselves. A Patek Philippe is the crowning piece of any watch collection. What's more, their high esteem and lasting value make these timepieces fantastic investments.
Patek Philippe watches generally have reserved designs. The brand crafts most of their timepieces out of precious metals like gold or platinum. Stainless steel editions do exist, but they are much less abundant than in other manufacturers' catalogs.
The Calatrava and Nautilus are Patek's flagship models. The former has been in production since 1932 and embodies simple elegance, while the Nautilus debuted in the late 1970s and boasts a much sportier design.
Patek Philippe flexes their watchmaking muscles in the Complications and Grand Complications collections. Here you'll find watches with tourbillons, minute repeaters, perpetual calendars, moon phase displays, and world time functions.
5 Reasons to Buy a Patek Philippe
- Prestigious luxury watches
- Great investments: the Calatrava dress watch and Nautilus sports watch
- Luxury watches in 18-karat gold or 950 platinum
- Modern in-house calibers for high precision
- Inventor of many important complications, such as the perpetual calendar and split-seconds chronograph
Prices at a Glance: Patek Philippe Watches
|Model, reference number||Price (approx.)||Material, size, features|
|Grandmaster Chime, 6300G-001||3.6 million USD||White gold, 47.4 mm, 20 complications|
|Sky Moon Tourbillon, 6002G-001||2.7 million USD||White gold, 44 mm, 12 complications|
|Grand Complications, 5208R-001||928,000 USD||Rose gold, 42 mm, perpetual calendar, minute repeater, chronograph|
|Celestial, 6102P-001||307,000 USD||Platinum, 44 mm, astronomical displays like sidereal time, phases and orbit of the Moon, etc.|
|Perpetual Calendar, 5160/500G-001||176,000 USD||White gold, 38 mm, perpetual calendar, retrograde pointer date|
|Nautilus, 3700||143,000 USD||Stainless steel, 42 mm, date|
|Nautilus Chronograph, 5990/1A-001||127,000 USD||Stainless steel, 40.5 mm, chronograph, pointer date|
|Complications Skeleton, 5180/1R-001||92,000 USD||Rose gold, 39 mm, skeletonized case and dial|
|Aquanaut Travel Time, 5164A-001||79,500 USD||Stainless steel, 40.8 mm, second time zone|
|Aquanaut, 5167A-001||61,500 USD||Stainless steel, 40 mm, date|
|Calatrava Annual Calendar, 5396R-011||48,000 USD||Rose gold, 38 mm, annual calendar, moon phase|
|Nautilus Lady, 7118/1A-001||47,000 USD||Stainless steel, 35.2 mm, date|
|Calatrava, 5227G-010||33,500 USD||White gold, 39 mm, date|
|Gondolo, 7041R-001||31,500 USD||Rose gold, 33.5 mm, small seconds, diamonds|
|Aquanaut Lady, 4960A-010||14,500 USD||Stainless steel, 35.6 mm, quartz caliber|
|Golden Ellipse, 3566||7,200 USD||White gold, 28 mm, manual caliber|
How much do watches from Patek Philippe cost?
Patek Philippe crafts some of the world's most prestigious timepieces. As a result, most of these watches demand high prices. Models from the Complications and Grand Complications collections are especially expensive, with prices ranging from 165,000 to several million USD. Popular watches like the Calatrava, Nautilus, and Aquanaut are a bit more affordable and demand between 18,000 and 205,000 USD on Chrono24.
One thing shared by all of the collections mentioned above is that demand for these models far exceeds the supply of timepieces. As a result, purchasing one of these watches from an offline retailer often entails joining a multi-year waitlist. However, if you are willing to pay a premium, you can avoid the wait by taking your search to the secondary market. Many Patek watches demand up to 50% more on the pre-owned market, and some even sell for double their official list prices. This has caused the market value of these coveted timepieces to soar in recent years. While no one can predict the future with any certainty, the run on Patek Philippes shows no signs of stopping anytime soon.
Despite this, owning a Patek Philippe doesn't have to cost an arm and a leg. Models like the Golden Ellipse, Twenty~4, and Gondolo change hands for much more manageable prices. Current editions generally cost between 12,000 and 50,000 USD on Chrono24, which is below their recommended retail prices. Vintage timepieces and pocket watches from the 1960s and 70s are even more affordable. With any luck, you might even find a model for as little as 3,000 USD.
The Calatrava: A Timeless Classic
The Calatrava collection has been part of the Patek Philippe catalog for over 80 years. Its name comes from the Order of Calatrava, whose cross serves as the company logo. This same image also adorns the crown of each Patek watch. Thanks to its simple elegance, the Calatrava is the perfect companion to any tailor-made suit and, thus, the ideal dress watch.
The collection contains a wide range of timepieces. Models with a small seconds dial at 6 feel particularly elegant. The use of manual calibers also allows these watches to stay rather thin. You can purchase a well-maintained watch in white, rose, or yellow gold for between 21,000 to 23,000 USD. Prices for platinum editions sit around 35,000 USD. The ref. 6119 from 2021 is available in rose or white gold. This model is the most recent Calatrava to feature a guilloché "Clous de Paris" bezel. Inside the case, you'll find the in-house caliber 30-255 PS with a 65-hour power reserve. Patek lists this timepiece for 29,570 USD.
The Calatrava is also available with an automatic movement. Most of these models feature a central second hand and a date at 3 o'clock. Patek offers this model in white, rose, or yellow gold. You'll need to invest anywhere from 32,000 to 34,000 USD depending on the exact edition.
The Catatrava collection also contains several women's watches. Most of these models come in rose or white gold and feature diamonds. They measure between 33 and 38 mm in diameter, and you can also choose from versions with manual or automatic calibers. Prices for a Calatrava women's watch begin around 23,000 USD and can go up to roughly 36,000 USD.
The finest variants of the Calatrava have intricately engraved dials and cases made of platinum. One example is the ref. 5088/100P, which easily demands about 113,000 USD.
Sporty and Modern: The Nautilus and the Aquanaut
Patek Philippe shows off their sporty side with the Nautilus. Those who value tradition gravitate toward the models in stainless steel—the material used for the very first Nautilus as designed by Gérald Genta. It debuted in 1976 under the reference number 3700/1 and drew immediate attention with its porthole design. Today, these vintage models cost a solid 110,000 USD. You should expect to invest slightly more for the ref. 5711/1 introduced in 2006. Back in August 2020, this timepiece still "only" cost roughly 75,000 USD. However, in early 2021, Patek Philippe announced that they would soon be discontinuing this model. Prices for the reference immediately skyrocketed and surpassed 110,000 USD in February 2021. This is even more impressive considering its list price was 30,620 USD.
At Watches and Wonders 2021, Patek Philippe announced a "farewell" edition under the reference number 5711/1A-014. This watch's most unique feature is its olive green sunburst dial with a horizontal relief pattern – an entirely new design in the Nautilus collection. While its list price is 34,893 USD, its market value is expected to rise due to high demand. Patek also released a stainless steel "green" Nautilus with a diamond bezel that same year. This model bears the reference number 5711/1300A and officially costs 94,624 USD.
In addition to numerous three-hand stainless steel editions, Patek Philippe also offers the Nautilus in gold with complications like annual calendars, moon phase indicators, chronographs, and second time zones. Depending on the complication, expect to pay between 75,500 and 123,000 USD for one of these timepieces. The most expensive Nautilus is the white gold ref. 5719/10G-010. This watch boasts some 1,700 diamonds and sells for around 467,000 USD new.
Women's Nautilus watches are smaller than their counterparts for men. Patek produces a 32-mm quartz-powered model, as well as a 35.2-mm automatic edition. In terms of material, you can choose from stainless steel or rose gold, and some versions also come with a diamond bezel. Prices vary by model and range from 42,000 to 71,000 USD.
Aquanaut: Modern With Softer Lines
Patek released the Aquanaut in 1997. While clearly inspired by the Nautilus, this timepiece is no remake. Its design is more modern and less angular. The manufacturer crafts the so-called "tropical" strap out of a special composite material resistant to water, abrasion, and UV radiation. Prices for the three-hand version in stainless steel come in at around 52,000 USD.
Those in white or rose gold are more expensive at between 69,500 and 78,500 USD. The stainless steel Aquanaut Travel Time occupies a similar price range and features a second time zone. If you prefer the Travel Time in gold, be prepared to spend roughly 94,000 USD. For an additional 18,000 USD, you can purchase a model that also has a chronograph function.
Patek offers women's Aquanaut watches in two sizes: 35.6 and 38.8 mm. Options include everything from simple stainless steel models to diamond-encrusted gold timepieces. The price range for these watches is similarly vast. A stainless steel women's Aquanaut with a quartz movement changes hands for as little as 12,000 USD on Chrono24. The same watch with a diamond bezel costs about 43,500 USD. Those on the market for a gold watch with diamonds can expect to pay between 110,000 and 195,000 USD.
Complications and Grand Complications
Patek Philippe turns watchmaking into an art form in the Complications and Grand Complications collections. Fans of intricate complications are sure to get their money's worth. The exclusive use of precious metals like gold and platinum underscore the high-end nature of these collections. Furthermore, most models feature diamonds and/or fine engravings.
Models with a world time function and those that combine an annual calendar with a moon phase indicator serve as the entry point into these collections. You can call one of these timepieces your own for between 38,500 and 51,000 USD. Prices for watches with fine skeletonization range from 66,000 to 115,000 USD. Versions with a perpetual calendar demand similar prices. You'll have to dig much deeper into your pockets if you want one of the intricately finished top models with both a perpetual calendar and chronograph. These masterpieces usually demand between 210,000 and 233,000 USD. Finally, Patek watches with a minute repeater for relaying the time acoustically cost upwards of 335,000 USD.
Highly complicated models like the Sky Moon Tourbillon and Grandmaster Chime are among Patek Philippe's crowning achievements. The former features twelve complications, while the latter boasts an astonishing 20 complications. These include a perpetual calendar, tourbillon, second time zone, sidereal time, minute repeater, and date repeater, among others. However, all this luxury has its price. The Sky Moon Tourbillon requires an investment of 2.71 million USD, and the Grandmaster Chime sells for about 3.61 million USD.
Anything but Round: Golden Ellipse, Gondolo, and Twenty~4
In addition to the classically round Calatrava and the porthole design of the Nautilus, Patek Philippe also offers a wide array of watches in different shapes. For example, the Golden Ellipse catches the eye with its elliptical design. Crafted in 1968 according to the divine proportion, it exudes a classic beauty. Current models come in platinum or rose gold and cost between 30,000 and 47,000 USD on Chrono24. However, you can find older models from the 1970s and 80s for as little as 5,300 to 7,500 USD.
Patek Philippe has been offering women's watches in the Twenty~4 collection since 1999. You can choose from two different designs. The classic version bears a slight resemblance to the Cartier Tank thanks to its rectangular case and integrated bracelet. As of 2018, the Twenty~4 collection also contains a round edition. Other than its shape, this timepiece sets itself apart from its sister model through its technology. While the rectangular Twenty~4 is only available as a quartz watch, the round version features an automatic movement. Beyond the shape, you can also choose between rose gold or stainless steel for the case, as well as whether you would like diamonds. Plan to spend anywhere from 12,000 to 50,000 USD on one of these timepieces.
The Many Shapes of the Patek Philippe Gondolo
The Gondolo collection is marked by its Art Deco design and interesting shapes. Whether it's pillow-shaped, rectangular, barrel-shaped, or a subtle combination of the three, this collection has something for everyone. Patek produces these watches exclusively in gold, which they then artfully combine with diamonds and pearls. Most get their power from manual calibers, though some feature a quartz movement. Prices for vintage timepieces from the 1970s begin around 6,000 USD. Simpler models from the current collection cost roughly 23,000 USD. More intricate pieces with diamonds and pearls can easily demand up to 97,000 USD.
Modern Calibers and a Unique Quality Seal
Patek Philippe is best 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 use weight adjustment screws on the side of their rims, the Gyromax features adjustable weights that sit on top of the wheel. Therefore, it has a greater moment of inertia, resulting in increased precision.
Patek Philippe has been using 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.
Over the years, Patek Philippe has continued to cut its ties to third-party suppliers. In 2005, the company introduced their first in-house chronograph caliber. As of 2012, they produce all their chronograph movements themselves. Before that, they had used movements from other manufacturers. For example, the first Nautilus used a caliber based on the 920 from Jaeger-LeCoultre. Audemars Piguet used this movement for the first Royal Oak as well, as did 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 requires a watch to pass the world's most demanding quality test for mechanical timepieces. They had previously used the Geneva Seal, a 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 finished watch. According to the old Geneva Seal rules, movements could receive certificates without being tested in their cases.
Patek Philippe also offers 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.
The History of Patek Philippe
In 1839, Polish watchmaker and emigrant Antoni Patek (1811-1877) began producing pocket watches in Geneva. In 1845, he combined forces with his French colleague Adrien Philippe (1815-1894). Philippe's father had been a watchmaker and taught his son the craft. In 1844, Philippe 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 larger 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 joined their list of 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.
From there, the company hit one milestone after another. 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, and it remains in their hands to this day. Thierry Stern has been leading the company since 2010. Patek Philippe produces around 50,000 watches per year.
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 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 rivalry that the Supercomplication ended. The watch is composed of 920 individual components and has 24 impressive complications. These include a perpetual calendar, Westminster Quarters, the sunrise and sunset time, and a view of the starry sky over New York City from Graves' Fifth Avenue apartment. In November 2014, the pocket watch sold for a record price of 24 million dollars at auction. Graves initially paid 60,000 CHF 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 by unveiling the Calibre 89 pocket watch, which, with 1,728 components, outdoes even the Supercomplication.
In November 2016, Patek Philippe broke another record: A watch with reference number 1518 sold at auction for 9.6 million CHF. At the time, it was the highest price ever paid for a wristwatch. This precious timepiece is a stainless steel chronograph with a perpetual calendar.