In a world that adores the Rolex, it can pay to look around when it comes to buying and investing in watches; Patek Philippe offers the buyer something that not many other prestige watchmakers can offer – independence. Family-run, and with no shareholders to be beholden to, Patek Philippe can pour all of its time, energy and expertise into its products. This could be the reason that they feature 8 times in the list of top ten watches ever to be sold at auction.
As luxury pawnbrokers since 1770, we get to work with some of the finest watches and jewellery on the planet but, when a Patek Philippe arrives at Suttons and Robertsons, it’s always a special experience.
This luxury watchmaking brand was founded in 1839 by Antoine Norbert de Patek and François Czapek. Called Czapek & Cie, they produced quality Swiss watches for almost a century, until it was bought in 1932 by the Stern family. A Patek Philippe watch is a thing of great beauty, style and expertise but, even within the ranges, there can be some models that ‘speak’ to you more than others. This Patek Philippe Buyers’ Guide will give you the clarity and insight you need to navigate the world of Patek Philippe, putting you in the picture when it comes to investing in this outstanding brand.
This Swiss-based watch manufacturer is all about horology. Their focus falls purely on precision time-telling. Although they do make sports watches, they don’t expect you to dive deep or fly high with a Patek. Making around 50,000 watches a year, 35,000 of these are mechanical men’s watches – and with these watches, they are making Patek wearers, collectors and families who invest in legacies very happy indeed.
Patek Philippe categorises their watches into ‘families’, bringing some order to a seemingly endless number of models, made from different materials and some which have superb complications.
The Calatrava is as much a statement on socio-economics as it is in horology. Patek Philippe’s response to the Great Depression, the Swiss watchmaker launched a Bauhaus-inspired dress watch in the late 1920s. It’s simple and understated elegance captured the zeitgeist of the time and has remained a solid investment ever since. Demonstrating an awareness of the mood of the world, Patek might still have been a solution to buying a luxury watch in hard times for the few but the brand created a stunning timepiece which is as relevant in the 2020s as it was in the 1920s.
Even the Patek brand refers to the Nautilus as ‘sporting elegance’. With a resolute self-awareness that the Nautilus is the watch for those who live an active lifestyle, rather than summiting Everest, the Nautilus includes models made for women and men. Launched in the mid-1970s, the Nautilus’ porthole-inspired design and rounded octagonal shape bezel are suggestive of a sporty life that proved endlessly popular. If you want to invest in a Patek Philippe Nautilus, you can join the long waiting list for new or research the pre-owed options. If you’re hoping to sell or pawn your Patek Philippe Nautilus, the news that they are in constant demand can only be good.
With the Nautilus a resounding success for two decades, Patek launched the Aquanaut in 1997. Brought to market as Patek’s affordable sports watch, it was ready to hit the water. With sportier credentials than the Nautilus, the Aquanaut has proved just as popular and is usually in high demand, but low supply – particularly in steel. Patek will often pavé the Aquanaut with diamonds to create a sparkling masterpiece that will twinkle beautifully.
Complications and Grand Complications
A straightforward rather than complex concept, Complications and Grand Complications simply refer to mechanical devices that do something other than tell the time. In practice, however, these complications allow Patek to excel at intricate watchmaking for the sake of it. Rather than a luxury that no one needs, Patek Philippe complications capture the very essence of what it is to be alive and to enjoy the time that we have on earth. Complications can include World Time Displays and range from simple dials to enormously decorative faces. Currently, Patek produce 41 complication models with many models featuring two or more complications. There is a tacit agreement among watch-lovers that Pateks with three or more complications – not including the date – constitute a Grand Complication. More than watches, Grand Complications are thought of as works of horology art with devices created for the sheer joy of them. There are 34 Grand Complication models, which include minute repeaters and tourbillons. The greatest of them all, the Grandmaster Chime, hosts 20 complications.
More petite, but just as perfectly formed, is the Gondolo. Created particularly for women, Goldolo models are Art Deco-inspired, elegant, feminine and often feature diamonds as the star of the show. While Patek still devote their time and energy to creating the Gondolo as a timekeeping masterpiece, these watches have been designed as much as jewellery as they have watches.
While the 1990s seemed to be all about being seeing the Millennium out with a bang, Patek Philippe turned the volume down with launch of the Twenty 4 in 1999. Made with women at the heart of the design, the Twenty 4 took the form of a slender rectangle or a smaller round face. Often studded with jewels, the Twenty 4 is understated elegance in watch form.
The Golden Ellipse is more than just a watch – even with Patek Philippe, that’s a bit of a statement to make. Launched in 1968, the Golden Ellipse is oblong, ultra-thin and often teamed with a gold bracelet. Once paused but now back, brighter than ever, the Golden Ellipse’s case sits somewhere between a circle and a rectangle. Stunning to look at, the Golden Ellipse is also very much in harmony with the world around it. Inspired by the ‘golden section’, discovered by ancient Greek mathematicians and declared the ‘divine’ proportion, the Golden Ellipse’s fundamental design is akin to some of the world’s greatest works of art and architecture, including the Taj Mahal and the Parthenon and ‘The Last Supper’.