Beautiful manifestations of watchmaking excellence and design genius, Patek Philippe watches stand as loyal custodians of traditional horology in a world that is hung up on the ideas of automation and mass production. For over 182 years, Patek Philippe has firmly safeguarded its commitment to producing only hand-made watches that speak of unerring accuracy and precision. From 1839 to today, the Maison has repeatedly enhanced the conventional dimensions of Haute Horlogerie. As a result, every Patek Philippe watch is a congregation of refined aesthetics, supreme craftsmanship, innovation, and the Maison’s rich legacy.
A Brief History of Patek Philippe
The story of Patek Philippe began in 1839 when Antoine Norbert de Patek founded Patek, Czapek & Cie in partnership with François Czapek. However, after six successful years of business, the confrères parted ways in 1845 to continue producing watches independently.
Around the same time, Jean Adrien Philippe forged a fine reputation for himself after receiving a bronze medal at the Industrial Exposition in Paris for his keyless winding and hand-setting system. Subsequently, he also garnered the admiration of England’s Queen Victoria for his keyless watches.
Finally, the two prodigies came together in 1851to form Patek, Philippe & Ce- Fabricants à Genève — the brand that became the world’s best manufacturer of luxury watches. Jointly, they created unique timepieces for many members of Royal families, including Countess Koscowicz of Hungary.
In 1932, Jean and Charles Henri Stern invested in the company, laying the foundation of an alliance that made Patek Philippe the last family-owned independent watch brand in Geneva. In 1958, Henri Stern became the president of Patek Philippe and was later succeeded by his son, Philippe Stern, in 1993. The Stern family still autonomously owns this massive luxury watch brand.
5 Best Patek Philippe Watches That Are Worth The Investment
1. Nautilus 5711
Nautilus 5711 is the most popular Patek Philippe watch that apparently has an eight-year-long waiting list! Originally introduced in 1976, Nautilus was designed by Gerald Genta, who also designed the famous Audemar Piguet’s Royal Oak. It was the Maison’s first foray into the world of luxury sports watches. With the porthole-like case, octagonal bezel, and ribbed dial, the watch was a masterpiece that reflected the brand’s adherence to intricacy and uniqueness from every inch and angle.
However, of all the models of Nautilus, 5711 is the most groundbreaking, revelling in the status of being the most iconic Patek Philippe watch of all time. It was released in 2006 on the occasion of the collection’s 30th anniversary. Many, including Thierry Stern (current CEO of the company), find it hard to answer why exactly is the Patek Philippe Nautilus 5711 so famous. Nevertheless, the demand for this watch has exceeded the supply so much that collectors and watch lovers agree to wait for a time period as long as eight years to get their hands on one.
2. Aquanaut 5167
Aquanaut, introduced in 1997, is often claimed as the next-generation Nautilus. Also designed by Gerald Genta, the watch proudly carries the octagon case of the Nautilus (though a bit curvier) in addition to an exhibition case back and a ‘Tropical’ strap. It is an all-time favorite among watch enthusiasts for its robust design that warrants longevity.
Aquanaut 5167 is one of the best Patek Philippe watches fashioned in a streamlined design with an embossed dial. It’s a classic that has become much sought-after in recent years owing to the increased interest in luxury sports watches, giving heavy competition to icons like Nautilus and Royal Oak. Also, the difficulty of buying a Patek Philippe Aquanaut 5167 is only increasing due to the label’s limited production of steel watches.
3. Grand Complications Perpetual Calendar 5208
A true gem from the oeuvre of Patek Philippe watches, 5208 is the most complicated watch from the Grand Complication series by the Maison. A path-breaking invention, 5208 is a proud proof of Patek Philippe’s unparalleled prowess in the art of watchmaking and horological complications.
A 5208 comes with a minute repeater, an instantaneous perpetual calendar with day/night indication, a pusher chronograph, and moon phases. In addition to these complications, a 5208 is also one of the rarest watches to be self-winding with an exhibition case back to admire its complex working. Besides the technical elements, a Patek Philippe 5208 is also loved by collectors for its modern look and balanced proportions.
4. Patek Philippe Calatrava 5196
The ultimate Dress watch, Calatrava is the linchpin of Patek Philippe’s storied legacy. It was introduced in 1932, at a time when the company was going through a severe financial crisis and needed a coup de maître to turn things around. Calatrava certainly was that lucky charm that helped Patek Philippe not just survive but come out victorious from the clutches of the Great Depression. It is considered a paragon of the round watch that sets the stage for future interpretations and imitations.
Although every timepiece from the Calatrava collection is a creation to marvel at, Patek Philippe Calatrava 5196 is the most desirable. It embodies elegance and understated style most eloquently. Designed minimally, Calatrava 5196 does what it is meant to do — tell time. The simple dial is adorned with just the hour markers, hands, and a subdial at 6 o’clock that subtly adds the element of technical acuity.
5. Patek Philippe Golden Ellipse
When other major watch brands were innovating rigorously to create watches that served more and more function than just telling time, Patek Philippe boldly introduced a relatively simple timepiece devoid of any decoration that went on to become an icon of the horological world. Golden Ellipse is a star with a single stellar element — its elliptical case — inspired by the “golden section” formula discovered by ancient Greek mathematicians.
However, it was not only the design that made Golden Ellipse so famous. This fairly slender, graceful-looking watch is fitted with an ultra-thin automatic movement, caliber 240. Over the years, several versions of Patek Philippe Golden Ellipse have been introduced with a few limited editions. Also, the beguiling Ref. 5738/50P-001 Golden Ellipse was made to pay tribute to this fantastic watch, the brand’s second-oldest design.
The limited production and crazy popularity of Patek Philippe watches (despite their exorbitant price) have caused a shortage of these timepieces in the market. So naturally, watch collectors and Patek Philippe patrons have turned to second-hand markets to appease their fancy. The Luxury Closet is home to an extensive collection of authentic Patek Philippe watches that includes vintage pieces, limited-edition watches, as well as newly-launched ones.
Explore new and preloved Patek Philippe watches for men and women here.