The origins of Patek Philippe can be traced back to 1839, when Antoine Norbert de Patek and François Czapek founded Patek Philippe Czapek & Cie. Since then, this independent company based in Geneva has grown into one of the finest Swiss watch brands today. Patek Philippe is one third of the “trinity” of Swiss watchmaking, alongside Audemars Piguet and Vacheron Constantin.
Under the guidance of the Stern family, which has owned the company since 1932, Patek Philippe continues to produce a wide variety of watches that appeal to both seasoned collectors and newcomers. The headlines at high-profile watch auctions are almost always Patek Philippe watches, and by 2021, the brand now owns eight of the ten most expensive watches at auction.
Whether you’re curious about the brand or want to add a Patek Philippe watch to your collection, delve into our ultimate guide to Patek Philippe to get a better understanding of this historic and famous watchmaker.
C Chen Explains The Patek Philippe Watch Collection
From minimalist formal watches and luxury sports watches to dazzling diamond-set pieces and Haute Horlogerie creations, Patek Philippe’s catalog is diverse. 2019, Patek Philippe President Thierry Stern revealed that Patek Philippe produces around 140 models. However, compared to other Swiss watchmakers, Patek Philippe’s annual production is conservative (estimated at around 60,000 watches per year), highlighting the brand’s exclusivity.
An important factor to remember when looking at Patek Philippe reference numbers is that the letter code indicates the type of material used. However, these are French words, so we have included the English translation below.
A – (Acier): Steel
J – (Jaune): Yellow Gold
G – (Gris): White Gold
R – (Rose): Pink Gold
P – (Platine): Platinum
That being the case, let’s take a closer look at Patek Philippe’s watch collection.
Patek Philippe Calatrava
- Launched in 1932 as Ref. 96
- A slim, round dress watch
- Usually in yellow gold or platinum
- With time or time/date dial only
The Calatrava is a line of sophisticated formal watches launched by Patek Philippe in the same year Sterns took over the company. Calatrava watches are available in various sizes for men and women, and they feature slim round cases, elegant lugs and simple dials. Their dials usually have just one pair or three hands, but sometimes a date window. calatrava formal watches are usually made of precious metals such as gold and platinum, but the brand has recently launched a limited edition steel calatrava. in the world of patek philippe, steel is rarer than gold.
Patek Philippe watches usually have manual winding movements to keep the cases as thin as possible, but automatic versions are also available. While there are some Calatrava watches with additional complications, these Patek Philippe watches are part of the “Complications” collection and not this official line of watches.
Patek Philippe CALATRAVA Price (MSRP).
- Calatrava Small Second 5196J/R/G: $24,600
- Calatrava Small Second 5196P: $40,810
- Calatrava Date Self-Winding 5227J/R/G: $37,850
Despite being a true classic in the world of luxury formal watches, you don’t necessarily have to pay a fortune for a Patek Philippe Calatrava. Used prices for older, discontinued models start at around $6,000, but can rise quickly depending on the model, materials and configuration.
Patek Philippe Nautilus
- Introduced as a reference in 1976. 3700-1A
- Nautical-inspired sports watch designed by Gerald Genta
- Available in steel, gold, and two colors
- Time/Date, Chronograph, Travel Time, Perpetual Calendar, Annual Calendar
The Patek Philippe Nautilus made its debut in 1976 – the decade in which the luxury sports watch genre was born. Designed by Gerald Genta, the man behind the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak, the Nautilus is a model with many of his signature design features.
The wide porthole case profile, the round octagonal bezel, the horizontally striped time/date dial and the integrated strap. Perhaps most notably, however, the first Nautilus was made of stainless steel, but it was as expensive as a solid gold timepiece.
Since its introduction, the Nautilus collection has expanded to welcome other material variations and more complex iterations. However, the stainless steel model with the blue time and date dial remains the most coveted. in February 2020, Patek Philippe announced the discontinuation of the Nautilus ref. 5711/1A-010 – a watch that reportedly had a 10-year long waiting list.
Unsurprisingly, demand for this unattainable Patek Philippe watch soared and so did the price. While the latest published retail price for the Patek Philippe Nautilus 5711/1A-010 is $33,710, it is not uncommon to see prices well into six figures on the pre-owned market.
Patek Philippe Nautilus Price (suggested retail price)
- Nautilus 5711-1A (discontinued): $33,710
- Nautilus 5711-1R: $59,140
- Nautilus Moonphase 5712-1A: $44,950
- Nautilus Moonphase 5712R/G: $49,910
- Nautilus Annual Calendar 5726-1A: $50,270
- Nautilus Chronograph 5980-1R: $96,990
- Nautilus Chronograph 5980-1AR: $70,380
- Nautilus Travel Chronograph 5990/1A: $59,140
- Nautilus Perpetual Calendar 5740-1G: $134,840
The entire Nautilus collection is one of Patek Philippe’s most popular models today, and its rapid rise to prominence is due in part to its popularity among the celebrities who continue to be photographed.
Patek Philippe Aquanaut
- Introduced in 1997 as a reference. 5060A
- Round octagonal case
- Usually with a textured rubber strap
- Time/date, travel time, chronograph
Patek Philippe launched the Aquanaut in 1997 as a simplified version of the Nautilus collection, aimed at the younger generation. Similar to the Nautilus collection, the Patek Philippe Aquanaut features a round, octagonal case, but without hinged sides. In addition, a unique design element of the Patek Philippe Aquanaut is its textured rubber strap, which features a chevron design that matches the dial face.
The first version of the Aquanaut was in steel with a time/date dial and a black strap, and the collection has expanded to include many other options. Today, the Aquanaut collection is available in steel and gold versions, as well as complications such as chronographs and dual time zones. While most Aquanaut watches are available with “tropical” rubber straps, Patek Philippe does make a version with a steel strap.
Patek Philippe Aquanaut Price
- Aquanaut 5167A: $21,650
- Aquanaut 5167-1A: $24,840
- Aquanaut 5167R: $40,810
- Aquanaut 5168G: $43,760
- Aquanaut Travel Time 5164A: $39,030
- Aquanaut Travel Time 5164R: $58,190
- Aquanat Chronograph 5968A: $49,680
It took Aquanat some time to take this big step forward. However, this modern Patek Philippe sports a watch that is in high demand and has a resale value that exceeds the retail price, just like its sibling, the Nautilus.
Patek Philippe Complications And Grande Complications
In the world of watchmaking, the term “complication” refers to any watch function that goes beyond the display of time. A “Grande Complication” is a mechanical timepiece with multiple complications, and Patek Philippe is known for its renowned expertise in this field.
The brand introduced its first minute repeater in 1916, its first split-second chronograph in 1923, its first perpetual calendar in 1925 and its first annual calendar in 1996. Patek Philippe’s archives include some of the most complex timepieces ever made, including Henri Graf’s Super Complication pocket watch with 24 different complications.
The modern Patek Philippe complication collection is equally impressive and contains a large number of outstanding references, including annual calendars, weekly calendars, flyback chronographs, pilot’s travel time, world time and world time chronographs.
Prices of Patek Philippe complications
- Calatrava Perpetual Calendar 5212A: $35,480
- Annual Calendar 5146J/R/G: $47,310
- Annual Calendar 5396G/R: $53,460
- Annual calendar flyback chronograph 5905R $70,380
- Chronograph 5172G: $78,420
- Calatrava Pilot’s Travel Time 5524R/G: $53,820
- World Time 5230G/R: $52,040
- World Time Chronograph 5930G: $79,250
For the serious collector, Patek Philippe’s supercomplications are home to an array of exquisite mechanical marvels such as the Perpetual Calendar, Perpetual Calendar Chronograph, Split Second Chronograph, Alarm Travel Time and Celestial Body.
Patek Philippe Grande Complication Prices
- Perpetual Calendar 5327J/G/R: $92,260
- Perpetual Calendar 5320G: USD 92,260
- Perpetual Calendar Chronograph 5270J: $176,240
- Double split-seconds chronograph 5370P: $274,410
- Perpetual calendar split-seconds chronograph 5204R: $309,890
- Alarm Travel Time 5520P: $260,220
- Celestial Body 6102R: $311,080
The unique Grandmaster Chime Ref. 6300A-010 was auctioned in 2019 for over $31 million, making it the most expensive Patek Philippe watch ever made.
Patek Philippe For All Generations
In addition to some of the world’s most coveted timepieces, Patek Philippe is also known for its long-standing slogan: “You never actually own a Patek Philippe, you merely look after it for the next generation.”
This statement emphasizes not only the enduring appeal of Patek Philippe watches, but also the fact that they are durable, true to design and destined to become treasured heirlooms.