If you’re into luxury watches, there’s one name that clearly stands above and beyond the rest: Patek Philippe. Patek Philippe watches are some of the best made, most coveted, and highest priced timepieces available. Not only are Patek Philippe watches very expensive when purchased new, but vintage or pre-owned Pateks also consistently break records at auctions. For instance, in November 2016, a stainless steel ref. 1518 sold for $11 million at the Phillips’ The Geneva Watch Auction: Four sale. This is the highest price that’s ever been paid for a wristwatch at auction. That price broke the previous record—also held by Patek Philippe—of a one-of-kind Patek Philippe ref. 5016, which sold for $7.3 million at the 2015 edition of the Only Watch charity sale.
These are impressive numbers indeed so let’s take a look at four reasons why Patek Philippe watches command the highest prices in the luxury watch space.
The Patek Philippe Quality
It goes without saying that for something to be regarded as luxury and deserving of astronomical prices, there also needs to be a level of quality that matches. And the standard of excellence at Patek Philippe is legendary. The in-house movements are built using hundreds of meticulously engineered components that are assembled by hand. Each and every piece of the watch is carefully considered and deliberately executed to produce the finest watch possible. Only top quality materials are used to construct Patek Philippe timepieces from the 18k gold to the 950 platinum to the flawless Top Wesselton diamonds.
Furthermore, each Patek Philippe watch undergoes rigorous testing to ensure its reliability, durability, and precision. Every one of their mechanical movements that measure more than 20mm in diameter boasts a timing rate of -3/+2 seconds per day, which is considerably better than the standards set out by COSC.
Patek Philippe watches are meant to last for several generations, as is so cleverly conveyed in their advertising campaign. Therefore, this type of promise has to be backed up with unsurpassed quality, which comes with a hefty price tag.
The Patek Philippe Scarcity
Just because one is ready to pay the Patek Philippe price, doesn’t necessarily guarantee ownership. Due to the company’s exacting standards, each Patek Philippe watch can take anywhere from several months to several years to create. This means production levels are low and thus, Patek Philippe watches are scarce. In fact, it’s estimated that Patek Philippe has manufactured fewer watches throughout its long history than some high-end watch companies make in a single year.
This scarcity, compounded with a global voracious appetite for the brand, leads to a gap in supply and demand that further explains the high prices of a Patek Philippe.
The Patek Philippe History
The history of the Patek Philippe dates back to 1839 when Antoine Norbert de Patek and François Czapek founded their company, Patek, Czapek & Cie. Today, Patek Philippe is owned and run by the Stern family, who purchased the company in 1932.
Throughout its history, Patek Philippe has been at the forefront of horology with a slew of inventions, innovations, and world firsts to its name. Although it’s a company that is steeped in tradition, the master watchmakers and craftsmen at Patek Philippe take advantage of cutting-edge technology to constantly improve their timepieces.
The story of Patek Philippe is closely intertwined with the story of Swiss watchmaking tradition and haute horology at large. To buy a Patek Philippe is to understand that that timepiece is crafted with a rich heritage of experience, knowledge, and passion behind it.
The Patek Philippe Value
Possibly the most significant reason as to why Patek Philippe watches are so highly priced is that not only do they retain their worth extraordinarily well but in many cases, their value steadily increases over the years. Therefore, many vintage watch collectors look to Patek Philippe watches as solid investments. And this makes for a very healthy secondary market for the Genevan watch manufacture, regardless of the soaring prices.
While Patek Philippe has some of the highest prices in luxury watches, this certainly doesn’t pose a problem for them. There are plenty of fine watch connoisseurs that are ready to pay the high costs of owning a timepiece from the most prestigious watchmaker in the world.
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