Patek Philippe is one of the most highly regarded watchmaking companies in the world. With a brand dating back to 1839, they have built a reputation based on quality, craftsmanship and prestige.
Purchasing a Patek Phillipe watch can typically cost anything from a few thousand pounds up to £100,000. In fact, seven of the top ten most expensive watches ever sold at auction have been Patek Philippe.
But why are Patek Philippe watches so expensive? Is the high price tag a fair representation of the product, or are you only paying for the name?
The Story of Patek Philippe
In 1851, Antoine Norbert de Patek and Jean Adrien Philippe came together to form one of the most famous and successful brands of luxury watchmakers ever, Patek Philippe. Famed for supplying innovative, groundbreaking, and breathtaking timepieces for royalty and aristocracy all throughout history, the legacy of the pair, without doubt, helped change the art of watchmaking forever.
Prior to the formation of Patek Philippe, its two founders were acting independently. Patek had formed a brief but promising partnership with François Czapek to form the Patek, Czapek & Cie company, an early precursor to Patek Philippe. In this period, the partnership was able to create a number of exceptional watches.
During the same period, Philippe was making a name for himself with his innovations in watchmaking. It was during this period that his game-changing patents attracted the attention of royalty; Queen Victoria. This association with monarchy and the highest of high society would follow the Patek Philippe brand throughout the decades.
After coming together to form their iconic partnership, Patek Philippe got to work. Patents filed by the company during this era included a precision regulator, perpetual calendar mechanisms, and the first double chronograph.
During the Great Depression in the 1930s, to keep the company afloat, Patek Philippe had to seek outside investment. Geneva brothers Jean and Charles Henri Stern were happy to oblige. Patek Philippe has remained in the hands of the Stern family ever since. Henri Stern became president in 1958, and his son — Philippe Stern — followed in his footsteps in ‘93. For more information on the history of Patek Philippe, check out our blog.
What is the Most Expensive Patek Philippe Watch?
The most expensive Patek Philippe watch ever sold is also the most expensive watch in history — regardless of the brand. In 2019, a Grandmaster Chimes (Ref. 6300A-010) sold at auction in Geneva for an eye-watering $31million. This number almost doubles the previous highest sale, a $17.7million Rolex Daytona previously owned by Paul Newman.
In addition, not only is the most expensive wrist watch ever a Patek Philippe, but the illustrious brand also holds the distinction of making the most valuable pocket watch in history; a Patek Philippe Henry Graves Supercomplication that fetched $23.98million at auction in 2014.
Is Patek Philippe More Expensive than Rolex?
Despite not being the biggest name in the world of luxury watches, that distinction likely goes to Rolex, the price of a Patek Philippe is often higher than most other brands. High end watch specialist Benjamin Clymer once said “within the world of collectable watches, Patek Philippe has always been the most desirable. It’s always been the absolute premier brand.”
Patek Philippe watches are considered some of, if not the finest, highest quality luxury watches in the entire world. As a result, the price of Patek Philippe watches are often much higher than most other brands — even Rolex. This is never more true than at auction, where Patek Philippe watches dominate the market. When it comes to Patek Philippe, collectors feel that you get what you pay for, quality, luxury, and innovation wrapped up in a sleek package that fits nicely on your wrist.
Why is Patek Philippe so Expensive?
Patek Philippe watches are one of, if not the most valuable brand of luxury watches in the world. But why? Patek Philippe watches stand out amongst their peers in terms of both craftsmanship, heritage, design, as well as scarcity. Additionally, Pateks are famed for maintaining excellent resale value, making them an excellent investment, further adding to their appeal.
Reasons why Patek Philippe watches are so expensive include:
Craftsmanship & Quality
If you’re going to pay top money, you expect to have a top timepiece adorning your wrist. Patek Philippe, perhaps more than any other brand in the world, represents an unmatched level of elegance and sophistication.
Attention to detail and unmatched quality are at the core of every Patek Philippe watch. The brand prides itself on staying with the times, continuously innovating without ever compromising on the time-honoured quality or the intricate detail and hand-finished style they have employed since the company’s creation.
In 2008 Patek Philippe introduced its own seal of quality — The Patek Phillipe Seal — ending a 123 year affiliation with the industry-standard Geneva Seal. The decision was made to establish modern, more rigid requirements to maintain a higher standard of excellence across the board.
Due to the unprecedented standard of quality within the company, each individual watch produced by Patek Philippe takes months, if not years to complete. The hundreds of parts in each watch are all handcrafted by master watchmakers. This allows them to carefully monitor everything that goes into each timepiece and guarantee that every part in their watch from top to bottom is of the highest quality possible.
In the aftermath of the 1929 stock market crash, Patek Philippe was purchased by the Stern Family, with the deal being completed in 1932. The Stern family had long been close with the brand, and had been suppliers of master-crafted dials for years. The ethos and vision of the Stern family matched that of Patek Philippe, to preserve the heritage and unmatched quality of Swiss watchmaking.
The Stern Family still run Patek Philippe to this day; they haven’t been sold out to big money investors in the United States or China. The lifeblood and history of a family business creating breathtaking pieces of art from Genevan workshops remains to this day no matter the success of the company.
Over the years, some of the most famous faces in history have worn Patek Philippe watches; from rap royalty to actual royalty, nobel prize winners to The Beatles. Famous faces have always been attracted to the Patek Philippe brand for its exclusivity and its status as a symbol of power and wealth.
Queen Victoria bought a Patek Philippe for herself and Prince Albert at the Great Exhibition of 1851 at The Crystal Palace, and the Swiss watchmakers have been a firm favourite of British Royalty ever since.
Artistry & Design
The true beauty and artistry of a Patek Philippe watch lies in its design, the intricate movements and the perfect, minute details of each individual part. The design of a Patek Philippe is unmatched. Every detail is perfect; from the polished hands to the engravings and stones attached to the outside.
The high-quality and intricacy of each individual part of the watch means that many of the more subtle aspects of the process need around 40-60 steps to complete. The complexity of the process is not reserved for the inside of the watch. The brand’s paintwork and engraving are also done by hand, making sure that each brush stroke is perfect and each letter engraved is in the exact right spot.
Value & Scarcity
It is believed that less than one million watches have passed through the walls of Patek Philippe from conception to completion since the company’s founding in 1939. Another of the largest, most prestigious Swiss watchmakers in the world, Rolex are reported to produce between 800,000 and 1,000,000 watches every year.
This scarcity, stemming from the intricate and long watchmaking process, mean that Patek Philippe watches have developed an aura of exclusivity.
Simple economics states that the more exclusive and scarce an item is, the more the item’s value increases. Human nature has always been predicated on aspiring to have something others do not. People and entire businesses have been dedicated to this exact way of thinking.
The resale value of Patek Philippe trumps all other watches. From vintage Pateks to modern ones, you can know that Patek Philippe watches are your best bet at having a master-crafted watch that won’t depreciate in value. Historically, some Pateks have nearly doubled in value at auction immediately after purchase. A Patek Philippe purchased for hundreds in the ‘50s will fetch tens of thousands today.
As a prospective owner, it can be reassuring to know that your timepiece won’t lose its value the second you purchase it. The brand uses the slogan ‘you can never actually own a Patek Philippe, you merely preserve it for the next generation.’ This is down to their longevity in both quality and value.
Second Hand Patek Philippe Watches at Blowers Jewellers
In the end, the question of why are Patek Philippe watches so expensive, and are they right for you, comes down to multiple factors.
Patek Philippe’s understated elegance and intricacy mean that everybody who owns one knows that they have the crème de la crème in craftsmanship, heritage, value, and design on their wrist.
If you are considering purchasing a Patek Philippe watch as the centrepiece of your collection or as an investment, Blowers Jewellers provide a service you can trust.
Decades of experience in luxury watches and jewellery make us perfectly equipped to help you find the perfect watch for you.
For more information about how Blowers Jewellers can assist you finding the perfect Patek Philippe, or guide you through our stunning collection of second hand luxury timepieces, contact us today.