Patek Philippe is a luxury Swiss watch brand well known for their quality craftsmanship, exceptional design and commitment to the world of watches and innovation in horology. Join us in this blog as we explore the History of Patek Philippe, their most iconic and popular watches, some of their most expensive watches and the grand complication.
Striving for excellence with innovation, how Patek Philippe embedded themselves in the history of horology.
The company was founded under the name Patek, Czapek & Cie in 1839 by two Polish watchmakers, Antoni Patek and François Czapek, in Geneva. Patek took charge of the sales and the brand while Czapek focused on watchmaking, and within a year, they employed half a dozen men and produced around 200 watches annually for six years.
In 1844 Jean Adrien Philippe was awarded a bronze medal for producing keyless winding and hand setting for the pocket watch, a mechanism that he had invented two years prior to receiving the medal and was patented by Patek, Czapek & Cie in 1845. In the early days of watches, you would require a key to wind the watch and set the time. With Philippe's innovation, you could now set the time and wind the watch with the crown. This made watches exponentially more versatile and usable.
1851, The name changes to "Patek, Philippe & Cie"
Queen Victoria and many more of high status adored and appreciated the first keyless watches at the great exhibition. Within the same year, the company changed its name to "Patek, Philippe & Cie" due to the groundbreaking innovation and the rewards it brought to the company.
1868, The first wristwatch
Countess Koscowicz of Hungary requested a wristwatch in 1868 to be made for the purpose of being a piece of decorative jewellery. This timepiece holds a Guinness World Record for being the first wristwatch ever. This marked an important step in wristwatches and the innovation of horology.
1881-1902, Pumping out patents
Patek Philippe started pumping out patents, one after another. 1881, the patent for the Precision regulator, a mechanism that ensured precise timekeeping. 1889, a perpetual calendar mechanism for pocket watches. This shows the day, date and month and wouldn't require readjusting if you kept the pocket watch moving and wound up. 1902, The first double chronograph. This feature allowed the proud owner of a Patek Philippe pocket watch to track two separate times at once.
1910, Westminster watch, the Duke of Regla
Patek Philippe produced a chime pocket watch for Westminster called the Duke of Regla. This reinforces the brand's prestige and status and is perfect for awareness and image.
1916, The first ever complicated ladies' watch
Patek Philippe released a ladies' wristwatch with a 5-minute repeater complication. The watch would signal every 5-minute mark for an hour, allowing ladies to tell the time in the dark or alert them.
1923- 1925 two new watches
In 1923 Patek Philippe produced, manufactured and sell the first ever split seconds chronograph wristwatch, a timepiece that boasts superb accuracy and precision. Just two years later, they produced their first perpetual calendar wristwatch, a highly complex complication, especially for 1925.
1932, New age of the stern brothers
The Stern brothers, Jean and Charles, invested in the company and helped turn it into the brand it is today by financing the innovation and production of the watches. In the same year, the brothers helped to design the first calatrava, a well-rounded wristwatch that is still in production today. The watch helped the company survive the great depression.
1941, Regulation production of the perpetual calendar wristwatches
With the investment of the Stern brothers, the brand could now start regular production of their perpetual calendar wristwatches. Now they have their foundation built and roots in the ground. They continued to thrive, yet again, patent after patent, Patek after Patek. The company was producing new watches with new patents and proving their excellence.
1949, Gyromax patent
In 1949 Patent was filed for the Patek Philippe Gyromax balance. It allowed for the precise regulation of a watch at the time. It allowed the watches to be adjusted without the need for a hairspring regulator, which would contribute to minute irregularities and gave the watch greater balance, therefore improving the overall performance.
1953 – 1985, self-winding movement, electronic clock, timezone watches, tourbillion record time keeping, Golden ellipse, Nautilus and the Ultra-thin
1953, the company produced a self-winding movement for wristwatches. In 1956 they produced the first-ever electronic clock. 1959 they release patents for timezone watches. 1962 the tourbillon pocket watch achieves a record for the best timekeeping of a mechanical watch that is unbeaten today. 1968, they released the Golden Ellipse collection, an outstanding shape compared to traditional watches and watches of the time. Almost ten quiet years later, they released the first Nautilus sports watch, crafted from steel. In 1977 the brand filed a patent for an ultra-thin movement, and in 1985 they put it into action with the ultra-thin perpetual calendar wristwatch.
The most iconic Patek Philippe watches, why and the price tag
The Patek Philippe Nautilus
When people think of a Patek, they think of no other watch than the Nautilus. Launched in 1976, the Nautilus was designed to be an elegant and robust sports model. This timepiece is known for its sturdy thick case and beautifully textured embossed dial. The first Patek Philippe nautilus was a men's watch encased in stainless steel; however, since 1976, Patek Philippe has released numerous ladies' models, rose gold models, white gold models, diamond set models and models with greater complications such as a moon phase. This model has had a surge in demand and popularity in the last few years. The brand has done very well in raising awareness and keeping hype around the brand and the model itself, with collaboration from Tifanny and co and almost exclusively selling them to celebrities and those of higher status and influence. These Tiffany and Co Patek's are selling for over 2 million pounds. This 5726/1A will set you back £45,000 at retail value. If you can get it at retail, prices on the grey market for this piece are well over double.
The Patek Philippe Aquanaut
Just by looking, you can tell that this watch was inspired by the Nautilus. It has a rounded octagon shape case. You can find this model on a rubber strap made from a new composite. It's highly resistant to UV, Sea water and wear. The dial on these watches is embossed but with a different design to the Nautilus, and it perfectly complements the rounder case. The aquanaut was originally released in 1997 with a simple design, three hands and a date window, a black dial and a steel case. However, now you can find it will. More in-depth complications such as the aquanaut time travel and in different materials such as rose gold and white gold. The 5968A is one of the most sought-after aquanauts because of its unique design and contrast of bright orange. This piece retails for around £44,000 and has a value on the grey market at well over double, and that just goes to show how much of a demand there is for these watches.
The Patek Philippe Calatrava
Patek Philippe designed and manufactured the first ever Calatrava in 1932; the model was first introduced to boost sales and help Patek get through the great depression smoothly. The Patek Philippe Calatrava collection is still in production today and the model boasts a variety of aesthetics and complications. The model is produced in various configurations with different case sizes, precious materials, complications and designs. The Calatrava is known for its thin circular case that was originally designed to fit under a gentleman's shirt cuff. The circular case pairs perfectly with leather straps. One of the most popular Calatrava configurations is the 5524G, the watch features the iconic Calatrava design and implements a practical dual time zone feature and a time and date display. The dark blue varnished dial features luminescent numerals, designed to be highly legible. While this timepiece retails at Patek for around £50,000 it can be secured on the secondary market for less than £30,000.
The Patek Philippe Grand Complication
The Grand Complication is another amazing watch produced by Patek Philippe. To summarise, this watch is meant to capture as much artistry from the designer and the skill of the watchmaker. The grand complication has such a wide range of watches to offer. Take a look for yourself. Yet again, these watches are made to capture the art and skill required to create these, and when combined, how well the final product comes out, it really allows the watchmaker to express their creativity to make such beautiful pieces.
Patek Philippe watches are undoubtedly some of the nicest watches you can find, not to mention their rich history in watchmaking; with that said, if you are looking to buy, sell or source a Patek Philippe watch, please feel free to contact us.