Buying Guide for New and Used Patek Philippe Watches
Since its founding in 1839, Patek Philippe has created works of art for the wrist that are unparalleled in their complexity, hand craftsmanship and precision. The independent, family-owned business is considered a “Holy Grail” brand by watch collectors globally, and often makes records at auction for being the most expensive watch sold.
Patek Philippe Facts
Patek Philippe watch owners expect unsurpassed quality and visionary technology. The watchmaker has regularly been a pioneer in research and development of high-tech materials that enable its watches to precisely perform their mechanical magic for centuries to come.
Well known around the world for its grand complications and high complication watches, Patek Philippe also offers timepieces that range from elegant dress to sporty chic, and incredible hand-painted and marquetry museum-like watches.
Every Patek Philippe watch is artfully made by hand, offering understated elegance that insiders appreciate. No Patek Philippe watch leaves the workshop without being inspected many times over. Additionally, no minute repeater built by the brand’s master watchmakers leaves without first being inspected by Patek Philippe’s President (and fourth generation of the family-owned brand) Thierry Stern. This dedication to craftsmanship is evident in the brand’s philosophy: "You never actually own a Patek Philippe. You merely hold on to it for the next generation."
Patek Philippe builds some of the most complicated watches in the world. In fact, time and again, the brand has set world records. Among its most complicated pieces is the famed Sky Moon Tourbillon, with more than 700 mechanical parts and mind-boggling features like the minute repeater, perpetual calendar and celestial sky chart. Of course, the brand also creates single- and double-complication watches for a more attainable (if there is such a thing for Patek Philippe) complication.
The Value of Patek Philippe Watches
Since its very first patent was registered in 1845, Patek Philippe has filed for nearly 80 patents. The brand has set the benchmark standard of excellence, even creating its own certifications for finishes that go above and beyond the coveted Hallmark of Geneva stamp. For those who wonder why Patek Philippe watches are so valuable (and whether a Patek Philippe watch is worth the money), the answer is in the visionary innovation, the incredible hand craftsmanship and the tireless commitment to perfection that goes into each and every one of its watches.
Additionally, when searching for vintage Patek Philippe watches for sale, one immediately notices their rarity—another key factor contributing to Patek Philippe watch prices. The brand completed construction of a $600 million production facility on the outskirts of Geneva in 2020, anticipating increased sophistication for decades to come. But it's not about mass production—Patek Philippe creates exclusive works of art that last for generations and hold their value.
Top Patek Philippe Watches for Sale
Patek Philippe Calatrava
Easily one of the most beloved lines from Patek Philippe, the Calatrava has roots dating back to 1932, when wristwatches (and the minimalistic Bauhaus movement) were just beginning to come into vogue. Named for the cross that was the symbol of the Calatrava Knights of Spain and Portugal in the 12th century, the collection was always a coveted favorite because of its pure lines and timeless elegance. Today Patek Philippe has a healthy number of Calatrava references in its collection—it remains one of the most sought-after watches on the market.
Patek Philippe Nautilus
One of the earliest “sport” wristwatches from Patek Philippe came in the mid-1970s with the advent of the Nautilus. Designed by the legendary Gerald Genta—who brought his idea and sketches to Patek Philippe—the watch case and bezel was octagon in shape, inspired by a ship’s porthole. The dial featured horizontal grooves that could emulate a ship’s deck.
The first Nautilus was released in 1976, billed as one of the world’s costliest watches in steel. Nearly 50 years later, the Nautilus remains an important pillar for the brand in rose or white gold, two-tone and even steel – a rarity for Patek Philippe. It is the perfect blend of sophisticated sport and distinctive style.
Patek Philippe Aquanaut
A relatively new collection in the Patek Philippe stable, the highly distinguished Aquanaut was launched in 1997 to immediate acclaim. It was originally designed to attract a younger customer, thanks to its modern appeal. Its octagonal case was more rounded and it boasted a composite strap (“Tropical”) that could resist UV rays and saltwater. The brand continues to unveil stainless steel and gold models, wowing the world with bold colored straps that everyone clamors for.
Patek Philippe Rare Handcrafts and High Jewelry Watches
Occupying an entire floor of the new cruise-ship-sized Patek Philippe Manufacture, the brand’s finest artisans sit in full-windowed spaces creating the world's most alluring handcrafted and rare gemstone watches. Artisans spend hours diligently hand-painting watch dials (and even clocks) using a fine-tipped single-hair brush. Craftsman work magic with wood and other materials, creating marquetry dials that surprise and delight, and spend days carving spaces on metal into which diamonds and precious stones are set into scintillating masterpieces. These pieces are truly rare—often just one of each will ever be made. These are among the most sought-after pieces at auction (if they ever come to auction).
Other Patek Philippe Models
In addition to the key pillars of the legendary brand, other lines include the Twenty-4 Automatic for women, the ultra-feminine Gondolo (often high-jeweled), the slim and classic Golden Ellipse, and the brand’s alluring pocket watches. Make no mistake, though, these do not exist in abundance. Each of the collections boasts just a few models, underscoring the brand’s commitment to exclusivity.