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Patek Philippe

Often regarded as the pinnacle of fine Swiss watchmaking, Patek Philippe is a world-renowned watch manufacturer behind some of the most historically important clocks, pocket watches, and luxury timepieces ever made.

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Patek Philippe backs its commitment to its craft by offering service and repair for every timepiece it has made since 1839. Patek Philippe’s famous slogan, “You never actually own a Patek Philippe. You merely look after it for the next generation,” sums up the company’s spirit.

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History of Patek Philippe

The company we now know as Patek Philippe was Initially founded in 1839 as Patek, Czapek & Cie by Antoine Norbert de Patek and François Czapek. Czapek left in 1945 and Jean Adrien Philippe joined as technical director. The company officially changed its name to Patek, Philippe & Cie in 1851. 

That was the same year that Patek Philippe displayed the world’s first keyless watches (an invention the company had patented a few years prior) at the Great Exhibition in London. Impressed by the innovative keyless system, Queen Victoria purchased an azure blue and diamond Patek Philippe pendant watch at the exhibition, which is now housed in the company’s museum. 

Patek Philippe continued to create timepieces for royalty from all over the world. For instance, in 1868, Patek Philippe manufactured the first Swiss wristwatch for Countess Koscowicz of Hungary. Tsar Alexander II, the Emperor of Russia, Rāma V, King of Siam, Hussein Kamāl, Sultan of Egypt and many other royals were also customers of Patek Philippe 

The death of the original owners (Patek in March 1877 and Philippe in January 1894) ushered in the new ownership of Joseph Antoine Bénassy-Philippe, the son-in-law of Adrien Philippe. In 1887, the now-famous Calatrava Cross became the logo of Patek Philippe. Starting in 1901, Patek Philippe was run by seven shareholders, five of which made up a board of directors. 

In 1932, brothers Charles and Jean Stern acquired Patek Philippe. The Stern brothers previously owned and operated a watch dials manufacturer that was a supplier of Patek Philippe. The storied watch brand continues to be in the hands of the Stern family to this day. 

  • 1958: Henri Stern becomes President of Patek Philippe
  • 1993: Philippe Stern becomes President of Patek Philippe
  • 2009: Thierry Stern becomes President of Patek Philippe

Charles’ son, Henri, took over the brand until he eventually handed over ownership to his son Philippe. Philippe dreamed up the idea of having a twice-a-year Patek Philippe Magazine in 1996, which helped to display some of the company’s latest products and innovations to potential buyers.  Philippe would eventually hand off the company to his son, Thierry Stern, who is the current Patek Philippe President.

Patek Philippe Watch Manufacturing

Patek Philippe is not only renowned for manufacturing most of its watch components but the company also continues to emphasize the finishing, decorating, and building of watches by hand. Patek Philippe’s expertise is the creation of complicated watches, including grand complications. Patek Philippe perpetual calendars, annual calendars, minute repeaters, chronographs, and world timers are some of the most collectible fine timepieces in today’s market. 

Though the company is most famous for mechanical watches, including manual-winding and automatic, there are also a few quartz Patek Philippe watches. 

Patek Philippe Seal

For well over a century, Patek Philippe’s mechanical movements were engraved with the Poinçon de Genève, also known as the Geneva Seal. This hallmark not only certified that a movement was made in Geneva, Switzerland, but it also indicates a high-quality finish. 

However, in 2009, Patek Philippe announced that it would replace the Geneva Seal with a Patek Philippe Seal, which has parameters regarding the entire watch and not just the movement. 

For the movement, the Patek Philippe Seal indicates: 

  • A rate accuracy within the range of -3/+2 seconds per day for calibers 20mm or larger
  • A rate accuracy within -5/+4 seconds per day for calibers smaller than 20mm

Patek Philippe tourbillons have to adhere to tighter controls than the above, and more importantly, the final rate tests are conducted with fully assembled watches – and not just uncased movements.

This standard helps to solidify Patek Philippe timepieces as some of the highest quality watches available today. 

Materials used in Patek Philippe watches

Patek Philippe uses the finest metals possible to craft its watches; many are made from precious metals like 18k gold and 950 platinum and select models are also available in stainless steel. 

Each material used by Patek Philippe corresponds to a unique letter (which is short for the French word for the material) found in a model’s reference number.

MaterialReference No. Letter
Rose GoldR
Yellow GoldJ
White GoldG
PlatinumP
Stainless SteelA
TitaniumT
Guide to Patek Philippe material designations

If a reference number has two letters, it means that two metals were used. For instance,  Nautilus ref. 5980/1AR has a steel and rose gold case. 

Read more:
2023 Patek Philippe Releases
2022 Patek Philippe Releases

Current production of Patek Philippe watches

Patek Philippe has always focused on quality over quantity.  According to an article by CNBC, Patek Philippe currently produces around 60,000 watches each year and can’t increase the volume of watches due to the pure excellence they promise to deliver with their brand.

In June 2020, Patek Philippe announced the completion of its new production building in Plan-les-Ouates, in the Caton of Geneva. Construction began in 2015 and now, the new Patek Philippe building means the company can house all of its production – from research and development to manufacturing and finissage to antique restoration and servicing –, under one roof. 

Patek Philippe reference numbers

Patek Philippe organizes their watches using collections and then even further by using reference numbers within those collections to specify each model and style. A Patek Philippe watch reference number indicates the model type, as well as a few other details. 

Modern Patek Philippe watches have four digits; men’s models begin with reference numbers 3, 5, or 6, while women’s models all begin with either 4 or 7. There’s is an exception here (there usually is); the ladies’ Aquanaut references start with the number 5. 

Furthermore, vintage Patek Philippe watches are also different; some references had two-, three-, or four-digit numbers, and some also began with the numbers 1, 2, or 9. 

Unfortunately, there are few hard and fast rules when it comes to Patek Philippe reference numbers and they can get confusing. However, to make it a little easier,  here’s a table of some of the most popular modern Patek Philippe collections and their corresponding reference numbers. 

Patek Philippe CollectionReference Numbers
Men’s Nautilus571x
Men’s Nautilus Chronograph59xx
Ladies’ Nautilus70xx, 71xx
Men’s Aquanaut516x
Men’s Aquanaut Chronograph596x
Ladies’ Aquanaut502x, 51xx
Annual Calendar51xx, 53xx, 520x, 
Annual Calendar Chronograph590x, 596x
Chronograph517x
World Time523x
Perpetual Calendar532x
Perpetual Calendar Chronograph527x, 520x
Calatrava522x, 611x
Twenty~47300, 4190
Reference numbers of Patek Philippe collections

As detailed earlier, letters in reference numbers, refer to the key materials used in the specific model. For example, the Patek Philippe Nautilus 5712/1A is one of Patek Philippe’s many Nautilus models.  The letter “A” means that it’s a  stainless steel model. 

Another clue a Patek Philippe reference number can tell you is if it has a metal bracelet or not. Patek watches with metal bracelets will include “/1” after the four digits. For example, the Aquanaut ref. 5167/1A has a steel bracelet while the Aquanaut 5167A has a rubber strap. 

Patek Philippe serial numbers

All Patek Philippe watches bear a serial number located somewhere on the watch. The Patek movement number is engraved on the movement while the case number is typically etched on the interior of the caseback. Unless the Patek Philippe has a transparent display caseback, you will have to have the back removed to see these numbers. 

Patek Philippe has kept detailed records of all the watches it has produced and you can order an Extract From the Archives for a fee. 

Notable Patents

Patek Philippe has developed around 100 groundbreaking patents and innovations, including some of the most impactful ones below.

Perpetual Calendar for Pocket Watches

In 1889, Patek Philippe patented a perpetual calendar mechanism for pocket watches. Perpetual calendars can take into account the varying days across different months, as well as the leap year cycles. Therefore, as long as they keep running, perpetual calendars can correctly indicate time and date in perpetuity (well, until the year 2100 when the leap year will be skipped) without the need for manual adjustment. 

Double Chronograph

The double chronograph was patented by Patek Philippe in 1902 and allows users to track two sets of elapsed time.  For example, a user could track the time of a specific lap in a race while simultaneously tracking the entire race’s time.  This innovation was considerably advanced in the timepiece industry during this time and is now a standard in many modern luxury watches.

Timeline: Innovations in Patek Philippe watches

YearPatent/InnovationDescription
1845Keyless winding and hand-setting systemJean Adrien Philippe won a bronze medal for this system at the Industrial Exposition in Paris.
1868First Swiss wristwatchPatek Philippe created the first Swiss wristwatch for Countess Koscowicz of Hungary.
1881Precision regulatorPatek Philippe filed a patent for a precision regulator.
1889Perpetual calendar for pocket watchesPatek Philippe filed a patent for a pocket watch perpetual calendar mechanism.
1902Double chronographPatek Philippe filed a patent for a double chronograph.
1916First lady’s wristwatch with complicationPatek Philippe introduces the first complicated women’s wristwatch a five-minute repeater.
1923First split-second chronograph wristwatchPatek Philippe sold the first split-second chronograph wristwatch.
1925First perpetual calendar wristwatchPatek Philippe developed its first perpetual calendar wristwatch
1933Henry Graves super complication Patek Philippe created the “Graves” supercomplication with 24 complications for Henry Graves Jr. It is one of the most complicated mechanical pocket watches ever made.
1941Perpetual calendar wristwatchesPatek Philippe began regular production of perpetual calendar wristwatches, which remains a mainstay in the catalog. 
1949Gyromax balancePatek Philippe filed a patent for the Gyromax balance.
1956First all-electronic clockPatek Philippe created the first all-electronic clock.
1959Time zone watchesPatek Philippe filed a patent for time zone watches
1962Tourbillon movement record A Patek Philippe tourbillon movement earns a world timekeeping precision record for a mechanical watch at the Geneva Observatory. The record remains unbeaten. 
1986Secular perpetual calendarPatek Philippe files a patent for a secular perpetual calendar with retrograde date indication.
1989Caliber 89Launched by Patek Phillipe to mark its 150th anniversary, Caliber 89 has 33 complications, making it the most complicated portable watch.
1996Annual calendar mechanismPatek Philippe filed a patent for an annual calendar mechanism and launches the Ref. 5035J. 
2001Sky Moon TourbillonPatek Philippe unveils the Sky Moon Tourbillon, Ref. 5002, which is the brand’s most complicated wristwatch with a double face:
2006SpiromaxPatek Philippe launched the silicon-based Spiromax balance spring.
2008PulsomaxPatek Philippe launched the Pulsomax silicon-based escapement.
2011OscillomaxPatek Philippe launched the Oscillomax system, which incorporates a Spiromax balance spring, a Pulsomax escapement, and a GyromaxSi balance. Patek filed a total of 17 patent applications for the components of the system.
2014Grandmaster Chime Ref. 5175Patek Philippe celebrates its 175th anniversary with the Grandmaster Chime 5175, the brand’s most complicated wristwatch with 20 complications, two independent dials, and a reversible case. 

Patek Philippe Grey Market Prices and Authorized Dealers

Patek Philippe Grey Market Prices

Prices of Patek Philippe watches have steadily risen over the years. The figure below was created by intotheminds.com and shows how prices for Patek Philippe watches have performed compared to Rolex watches and Audemars Piguet watches since 2012.

Patek Philippe sports watches, such as the Nautilus and Aquanaut, have become especially popular in the secondary market, commanding huge premiums over their retail prices. In 2021, Patek Philippe and Tiffany & Co. celebrated 170 years of their partnership. To mark the occasion, Patek released the Nautilus ref. 5711/1A-018, furnished with a Tiffany blue dial and limited to 170 examples. In December 2021, one of those Tiffany Nautilus watches sold for over $6.5 million at auction, and all proceeds were donated to charity.  

Patek Philippe Authorized Dealers

Patek Philippe has a worldwide network of authorized dealers, as well as three company-owned Salons located in Geneva, Paris, and London. Patek Philippe Salons are iconic showrooms where visitors and buyers can see some of Patek Philippe’s most prestigious timepieces. If you’re looking for a new Patek Philippe watch in the United States, you might try one of these authorized dealers:

  • Betteridge. Founded in New York City, Betteridge is a notorious dealer of luxury jewelry and has established itself as a premier dealer of world-renowned timepieces, including Patek Philippe.
  • Razny Jewelers. Located in Chicago, Razny Jewelers is a proud authorized dealer of Patek Philippe and offers an extensive collection of some of the most classic timepieces from this established brand.
  • Tourneau. Since 1990, Tourneau has been an authorized distributor of luxury watches and jewelry out of their headquarters in New York.
  • Windsor Jewelers. Windsor Jewelers’ headquarters can be found in Augusta, Georgia, and they’ve provided customers with designer watches and jewelry since its founding in 1986.

That said, getting your hands on an in-demand Patek Philippe (a Nautilus or Aquanaut) from an authorized dealer can be very tricky. What’s more, Patek Philippe allocates certain models only to its most loyal customers. 

Notable Patek Philippe Models

Aquanaut

Patek Philippe Aquanaut
Patek Philippe Aquanaut
TypeLuxury Sports Watch
MaterialStainless Steel, Gold, Platinum, Gemstones
FunctionsTime, Date, Sweep Seconds (standard Aquanaut)

Read more: How Much Does a Patek Philippe Aquanaut Cost?

First released in 1997, the Aquanaut collection is considered one of the more entry-level options for the Patek Philippe brand.  It’s a budget-friendly alternative to one of Patek Philippe’s more iconic line of watches, the Nautilus. The Aquanaut’s water resistance (up to 120 m), in-house calibers, and simple yet bold design make it a much-desired timepiece worldwide. While the standard Aquanaut is a time and date model, Patek Philippe has also made more complicated versions such as Travel Time and Chronograph editions. 

Aquanaut models from the Patek Philippe website range from $20,000 to $215,000.

                  Notable Aquanaut Models

Date ReleasedReference Number
1997Ref. 5060
1998Ref. 4960
1998Ref. 5064
1998Ref. 5065
1998Ref. 5066
2004Ref. 5067
2007Ref. 5167
2011Ref. 5164
2017Ref. 5650
2017Ref. 5168
2018Ref. 5968
Timeline of notable Patek Philippe Aquanaut releases

Nautilus

Patek Philippe Nautilus 5712 and 7118 models
Patek Philippe Nautilus 5712 and 7118 models
TypeLuxury Sports Watch
MaterialStainless Steel, Gold, Platinum, Gemstones
FunctionsTime, Date, Sweep Seconds, (standard Nautilus) 
Patek Philippe Nautilus characteristics

Read more:
How much does a Patek Philippe Nautilus cost?
Why is the Patek Philippe Nautilus so expensive?

Designed by Gérald Genta, the Nautilus is undoubtedly the most iconic collection that Patek Philippe carries.  It has inspired luxury sports watches since its introduction in 1976.  Sought after by tons of buyers worldwide, the Nautilus reflects elegance yet still pulls off a bold sports watch design.  Its popularity has slowly driven its price up over the past few years.  It comes in steel, rose gold, white gold, or two-tone combinations.

In addition to the highly popular time and date reference 5711, Patek Philippe also makes more complicated Nautilus watches such as Chronograph, Annual Calendar, Perpetual Calendar, and Travel Time Chronograph.

Notable Nautilus Models

Date ReleasedReference Number
1976Ref. 3700
1981Ref. 3900
1981Ref. 3800
1998Ref. 3710
2004Ref. 3711
2005Ref. 3712
2006Ref. 5711
2006Ref. 5712
2006Ref. 5980
2006Ref. 5800
2008Ref. 5713
2008Ref. 5719
2008Ref. 5724
2008Ref. 5722
2010Ref. 5980
2010Ref. 5726
2014Ref. 5990
2015Ref. 7118
2016Ref.  5711/1P Anniversary
20165976/1G Anniversary
2018Ref. 5740
Timeline of notable Patek Philippe Nautilus releases

Golden Ellipse

Golden Ellipse watch
Patek Philippe Golden Ellipse ref. 5738P. Photo credit: Patek Philippe
TypeDress Watch
MaterialGold or Platinum
FunctionsTime, Self-Winding Movement 
Patek Philippe Golden Ellipse characteristics

Based on the ancient design principle of the “golden section,” the Patek Philippe Golden Ellipse debuted in 1968. These are slim dress watches with understated dials. While the vast majority of Golden Ellipse watches are home to only a pair of hands that sweep around the dial pointing to simple baton indexes, Patek Philippe has made a few variations in the past that include date windows, running seconds subdials, and other types of hour markers. Furthermore, current Golden Ellipse watches are self-winding, but Patek has also made hand-wound and quartz editions before. 

The Golden Ellipse is available on Patek Philippe’s website in rose gold, white gold, and platinum, with MSRP prices ranging from $35,000 to $75,000.

Notable Golden Ellipse Models

Date ReleasedReference Number
1968Ref. 3548
1970Ref. 3582
1974Ref. 3605
1977Ref. 3739
1977Ref. 3738
1979Ref. 3839
1981Ref. 3948
1981Ref. 3770
1982Ref. 3738
1984Ref. 3930
1997Ref. 5028
2008Ref. 5738
2018Ref. 5738/50P
Timeline of notable Patek Philippe Ellipse releases

Gondolo

Patek Philippe Gondolo 5101P
Patek Philippe Gondolo 5101P
TypeDress Watch
MaterialGold, Platinum, Gemstones
FunctionsJumping Hours, Moon Phases, Annual Calendar, Dependent on Model
Patek Philippe Gondolo characteristics

Patek Philippe introduced the Gondolo collection in 1993.  Its name is a tribute to the long-lasting relationship between Patek Philippe and Brazilian watch dealer Gondolo and Labouriau, which began in 1872 and lasted until 1927. Gondolo’s inspiration was based on the art deco movement. Today, The Gondolo collection is home to Patek Philippe’s “shaped” watches, which is to say non-round ones. 

The Gondolo can be found on Patek Philippe’s website for prices ranging from $35,000 to $220,000.

Notable Gondolo Models

Date ReleasedReference Number
1993Ref. 4824J
1993Ref. 4825
2000Ref. 5100J
2003Ref. 5101P
20117041R
Current CollectionRef. 4972/1G
Current CollectionRef. 7042/100G
Current CollectionRef. 7099G
Current CollectionRef. 4920R
Timeline of notable Patek Philippe Ellipse releases

Calatrava

Three very different Patek Philippe Calatrava references
Three very different Patek Philippe Calatrava references
TypeDress Watch
MaterialGold, Platinum, Gemstones
FunctionsTime, Date, Automatic
Patek Philippe Calatrava characteristics

Designed by David Penney and named after the company’s Calatrava Cross emblem, the first Patek Philippe Calatrava model was launched in 1932–the same year the Stern family took over Patek Philippe. The success of the then-new elegant Calatrava dress watch has been credited with helping  Patek Philippe push through the Great Depression. The Calatrava collection continues to be a mainstay of Patek’s catalog, characterized by round cases and highly legible dials. 

Buyers can find the Calatrava collection on Patek Phillipe’s website for $30,000 to $100,000.

Notable Calatrava Models

Date ReleasedReference Number
1932Ref. 96
1938Ref. 565
1938Ref. 570
1953Ref. 2526
1973Ref. 3520
1989Ref. 3960
1991Ref. 5000G
1994Ref. 5032
1997Ref. 5026
2001Ref. 5120
2004Ref. 5196
2005Ref. 6000
2006Ref. 5296
2006Ref. 5119
2015Ref. 5524
2017Ref. 5180/1R
2017Ref. 6006G
2022Ref. 6119
Timeline of notable Patek Philippe Calatrava releases

Complications and Grand Complications

Patek Philippe annual calendar chronograph from the Complications collection and two pieces from the Grand Complications collection
Patek Philippe annual calendar chronograph from the Complications collection and two pieces from the Grand Complications collection
TypeDress Watch
MaterialGold, Platinum, Gemstones
FunctionsVarious, Depending on model
Patek Philippe Complication and Grand Complication characteristics

The Complications and Grand Complications collection represent some of the most exquisite watches Patek Philippe has manufactured. These watches go beyond time and date and include functions such as dual time zones, annual calendars, and world time displays.  

Some examples of Patek Complication watches include Annual Calendar, Chronograph, Pilot Travel Time, and World Time. On the other hand, grand complications generally combine several complications in one watch. Some examples of Patek Philippe Grand Complications watches include Perpetual Calendar, Perpetual Calendar Chronograph, Celestial, World Time Minute Repeater, and Grandmaster Chime. 

Timepieces from the Grand Complications collection can see prices skyrocket to upwards of one million dollars, making them some of the most sought-after and world-renowned Patek watches. 

Notable Complications and Grand Complications Models

Date ReleasedReference Number
1939Ref. 1415
1941Ref. 1518
1941Ref. 1526
1953Ref. 2523
1985Ref. 3940
1993Ref. 5050
1998Ref. 5059
2000Ref. 5110
2007Ref. 5140
2007Ref. 5159
2016Ref. 5327
2019Ref. 5303
2020Ref. 5370P
2020Ref. 5270J
Timeline of notable Patek Philippe Complication/Grand Complication releases

Notable Patek Philippe Patrons and Owners

Athletes

Ireland’s Connor Macgregor is a fan of the Patek Philippe Annual Calendar Chronograph Ref. 5905P.  This watch’s unique color scheme (green dial, tonal strap) displays Macgregor’s love for his country.  The green intonations, and the bold design of the timepiece, were reasons for Macgregor to become a wearer of Patek Philippe.

All-time basketball great Chris Paul is a patron of the Patek Philippe World Time, a watch whose design contrasts the typical stainless-steel designs that seem to dominate the sporting industry.  The World Time was originally designed in the 1930s by Louis Cottier and features a bold, gold face.

Celebrities

Brad Pitt has a longtime affection for Patek Philippe watches.  He demonstrated it when he bought a rare and precious Ref. 5016 Grand Complications featuring three of the most highly prized complications in a watch: the tourbillon, the minute repeater, and the perpetual calendar with moon-phase display. The movement comprises of 506 parts and is entirely hand-finished.  After a bidding war, the timepiece soared from its base price of $460,000 to over $6 million when finally purchased by Pitt.

Comedian, TV host, and influencer Ellen DeGeneres was spotted wearing the black dialed Patek Philippe Reference 5960 Annual Calendar Chronograph during her interview with sports star Nick Foles in 2019.  This watch was manufactured by Patek Philippe for one year and has since been discontinued, increasing its value and making patrons such as DeGeneres even more prominent.

Royalty and Politicians

Queen Victoria of Britain is perhaps the most significant royalty to be a wearer of a Patek Philippe timepiece.  The Queen acquired a keyless pendant in 1851 from the Great Exhibition in London, which helped to establish a trusted brand name and set the course for Patek Philippe’s long and admired history.

On the other side of the Atlantic, President John F. Kennedy was gifted a Patek Philippe quartz desk clock by the people of Germany following his speech titled ‘Ich bin ein Berliner,’ which he gave on June 26th, 1963, in West Berlin. The clock displayed time zones from Washington D.C., Berlin, and Moscow, three of the most important cities in the world during this time.

Sponsorships and Collaborations

Patek Philippe has joined up with quite a few partners in their long history. The Patek Philippe brand has done an excellent job maintaining and upholding these relationships, and a few of the most notable partnerships are listed below.

Esplanade

Self-proclaimed as one of the busiest art centers in the world, Esplanade is proud to be affiliated with Patek Philippe.  They originally opened their center in 2002 and have since hosted more than 50,000 performances and activities, opened their doors to around 32 million patrons, and had approximately 114 million visitors.

Tiffany & Co.

Antoine Norbert de Patek met Charles Lewis Tiffany at his store in New York in 1851, and the rest is history. Tiffany & Co. is a premier and long-running luxury jewelry and accessories store.  Tiffany and Patek Philippe’s relationship has stood the test of time for 170 years.  Patek Philippe just recently came out with the limited-edition series of Ref. 5711/1A-018 Nautilus with the dials specifically designed to honor Tiffany, bearing the famous color of Tiffany blue.

Cortina Watch

Anthony Lim, the founder of Cortina Watch, began his close relationship with the Stern family in 1956. He would eventually introduce Cortina Watch to Singapore in 1972 and would go on to become the first authorized dealer of Patek Philippe in Singapore.