Patek Philippe is one of the most distinguished and exquisite watchmakers in the world. Its clocks are cutting-edge and considered the pinnacle of watchmaking. Patek Philippe clocks are incredibly difficult to come by. Other high-end watchmakers aren’t like Patek Philippe. With rigorous attention to detail and a long tradition of perfection, Patek Philippe is the pinnacle of watchmaking. Due to its limited nature and limited numbers, Patek watches are in higher demand than ever before, and collectors are ready to pay exorbitant rates to obtain them. Patek Philippe watches have become increasingly expensive in recent years. Therefore, we’ve compiled a list of the top 37 most intriguing facts about the firm to help us better comprehend its roots and history.
The Auction Scene’s Sweetheart
A rare Patek Philippe watch has commanded astronomical prices in some of the world’s most famous auction houses. The no-compromise construction of the Genevan brand’s timepieces has long appealed to the affluent. Furthermore, the restricted number of specific works, some of which are one-of-a-kind commissions, has pushed prices up.
Two wealthy Americans: Henry Graves and James Ward Packard competed to acquire the most intricate watch in the world in the early twentieth century. Both of these men commissioned Patek Philippe, as well as other prominent Maisons, to create ever-more intricate clocks. Patek Philippe timepieces have now become extremely popular among watch collectors, and auction prices have reflected this. Indeed, in the early 1900s, Sotheby’s in New York sold a pocket watch constructed for Graves in the 1930s, nicknamed the “Supercomplication,” with 24 complexities, for CHF 17 million (about £11 million), a record that still holds today.
A Complete Manufacture
Patek Philippe is a vertically integrated independent luxury watchmaker. It has its research and development department, and all movements and external components are designed and engineered in its workshops. From simple models to intricate clocks, the individual elements of the movements and cases are created, polished, and assembled in-house. This expertise is present throughout the life of each watch, from the initial sketches to the final assembly. Patek Philippe has been servicing and repairing its timepieces since the 1830s.
Patek Philippe introduced the Nautilus collection in the 1970s, believing that the time had come to produce an exclusive sport watch with high-end finishes. Ref. 3700 was the model’s original designation, and it was built of steel. It was designed by Swiss watchmaker Gérald Genta, who previously worked with Audemars Piguet on the Royal Oak series, and launched by Patek Philippe in the aftermath of the quartz crisis in the hopes of re-engaging people in high-end Swiss mechanical clocks.
The Nautilus series was part of Patek Philippe’s general marketing plan, which had to refresh the brand image while keeping tradition. Dynamic new-generation business leaders reflected the goal. The Ref. 5711 & 5712 models, which were introduced in the 2000s to honor the collection’s 30th anniversary, are among the most popular of Patek Philippe’s Nautilus wristwatch lines.
Sky Moon Tourbillon
In the 2000s, Patek Philippe released the first Sky Moon Tourbillon wristwatch, the Ref. 5002. On the wristwatch’s two dials, the tourbillon, minute repeater, sky chart, and moon phase & orbit are among the 12 complications. The Sky Moon Tourbillon Ref. 6002 was introduced in the 2010s, and it had the same 12 problems as the first edition. The new form took seven years to design, with more than 100 hours of engraving labor required for each piece.
Patek Philippe’s Sky Moon Tourbillon was the most complicated wristwatch until then. Only 3–5 pieces each year are expected to be made, each costing more than US$1.2 million. However, every purchase of the watch requires a buyer’s application, which must be approved by Patek Philippe President Thierry Stern. A Sky Moon Tourbillon 6002G sold for US$2.707 million (HKD 21,240,000) at Poly Auction in Hong Kong in October 2018, making it one of the most expensive watches ever sold at auction.
In the 1990s, Henry Stern’s son Philippe became the company’s president. He founded the Patek Philippe Magazine in 1996, a twice-yearly publication for watch enthusiasts that has featured contributions from several prominent writers, including Nobel Laureates Gao Xingjian and José Saramago. After Philippe Stern died in 2009, his son, Thierry Stern, took over the company. Thierry Stern claims that the company produced 58,000 clocks in 2017 after manufacturing 40,000 in 2010. Patek Philippe chose to progressively increase the number of timepieces made each year (by 1-3 percent per year) but with a ceiling to maintain quality and originality, and the number of timepieces manufactured grew to 62,000 in 2018. Currently, the company is a member of the FH (Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry).
Patek Philippe is making every effort to maintain its autonomy. As a result, the company relies on its leverage to grow, both in terms of future investments and in terms of production resources. All-important initiatives, including the annex building in Plan-les-Ouates, the exclusive salons in Geneva, Paris, and London, the Patek Philippe Museum, and the ateliers and subsidiaries in the Jura region, were entirely self-funded. [Patek Philippe] intends to continue on the route that led to its success on its own.