Patek Philippe is known as one of the most exclusive and luxurious watchmakers in the world. Its watches are considered state-of-the-art, and to be truly the epitome of watchmaking. The watches of Patek Philippe are rare by nature, and for some models, you have to wait many years to get your hands on one.
Patek Philippe isn’t like most other luxury watch brands. Patek Philippe is the very best craftsmanship with an immense attention to detail and with a rich heritage of nothing but perfection. Due to their limited nature and restricted numbers, the demand for Patek watches is higher than ever, and collectors are prepared to pay hefty sums to get their ahold of them. The cost of Patek watches has skyrocketed, especially in recent years, and in this article, we share the top 37 most interesting facts about Patek Philippe that will help us better understand the heritage and history behind the immense success of Patek Philippe.
Top 37 facts about Patek Philippe
1. Patek Philippe supplied watches to Queen Victoria
Patek received the honorable task of delivering watches to Queen Victoria and Prince Albert in 1851. This also included her consort.
Patek Philippe delivered a key-wound Patek Philippe timepiece in November 1851 during the Great Exhibition of London.
She didn’t just own one watch, but a second one which was more exclusive, suspended from a diamond and enamel brooch.
2. Patek Philippe has had an exclusive clientele
Patek Philippe resembles true watchmaking perfection, and as such, you can expect the brand to have some of the most esxclusive clientele among all watch brands.
Patek Philippe has delivered watches to Christian IX, Princess Louise of Denmark, Victor Emmanuel III of Italy, Hussein Kamel, and many more.
3. Patek Philippe created one of the most complicated mechanical watches ever made in 1989
This timepiece was made for the 150th anniversary of Patek philippe. The watch has 39 complications, including the date of Easter, time of sunrise, the equation of time, sidereal time, and many other functions.
4. Patek Philippe introduced the silicon escapement wheel to the watchmaking industry in 2005
In 2005, the company introduced the silicon escapement wheel to the industry.
The silicon escapement wheel was first integrated in the ‘Patek Philippe Advanced Research’ Annual Calendar Ref. 5250. This watch came in a limited series of 100 watches.
5. Patek Philippe was founded on May 1st, 1851
6. Patek Philipe has always been privately owned
The company has been owned by the Stern family since 1932, and, as of the late 2000s, the company has been led by Philippe Stern and his son Thierry Stern. Thierry Stern took over the leadership of the company from his father in 2010.
7. The official name of Patek Philippe is Patek Philippe et Cie
Patek Philippe and co, in other words.
9. It is based in Vallée de Joux in Switzerland
10. The company was founded by Antoni Patek and Franciszek Czapek
Franciszek Czapek was a Czech-born watchmaker and Antoni Patek a Polish watchmaker. These two founded Patek, Czapek & Cie in 1839 in Geneva.
Following, they started making pocket watches but separated in 1844.
11. Patek joined with the French watchmaker Adrien Philippe in 1845
After having separated with Czapek, Patek joined with the French watchmaker Adrien Philippe, the individual responsible for inventing the keyless winding mechanism.
12. Patek Philippe was brought to the American market in 1935
Through the New York-based Henri Stern Watch Agency, Patek was brought to the USA market.
13. Patek Philippe sought a buyer in 1932
Due to the global economic crisis in 1932, Patek Philippe became financially distressed and sought a buyer. Patek, just like most other Swiss watch companies struggled as a result of the stock crash in 1929, and Philippe & Cie especially struggled since customers defaulted on payment obligations.
14. Patek didn’t want to be acquired by a competitor
The directors of Patek contacted the brothers Charles and Jean Stern of the company ‘Cadrans Stern Frères with which the Patek brand has cooperated with earlier since they produced top quality dials and was one of Patek’s best suppliers. Since the brothers wanted to preserve Swiss watchmaking tradition, the Stern brothers helped Patek Philippe, as well as took a stake in the company in 1932. Within a year, the brothers had acquired the whole Patek Philippe company.
15. In 1932, Patek released the Ref. 96 timepiece
This watch is what has gone down in history as the prototype of the iconic and legendary Calatrava collection.
16. Charles Stern was approved chairman of the board of directors in 1934
The son Henri Stern also joined the company to assist him.
17. The first Patek minute repeater was made for a woman in 1916
In 1916, Patek made an Art Deco-styled five-minute repeater in a platinum case with chainlink bracelet for Mrs. D.O. Wickham.
18. It has been reported that Patek Philippe has made less than 1 million watches since 1839
This goes to show how exclusive of a Swiss watch manufacturer Patek Philippe is, considering the fact that it is a number that is lower than the total yearly watch production of some of the major luxury watch companies. Since Patek Philippe is very restricted with their production numbers, however, this number is an estimate.
19. It takes nine months to make the most basic watches of Patek Philippe
This is just for the most basic watches in the collection of Patek Philippe. Their most advanced watches take considerably longer time to manufacture.
In fact, the more complicated timepieces take more than two years to make.
20. All repeaters are tested by the brand president, Thierry Stern
Believe it or not, but this just goes to show the meticulous attention to detail and mindset of only satisfying with perfection that Patek Philippe has.
Before any repeaters leave the factory, they are carefully tested by the brand’s very own president Thierry Stern.
21. Only selected individuals are allowed to purchase the Patek Philippe Grandmaster Chime Ref. 6300G
Patek Philippe Grandmaster Chime Ref. 6300G was released in 2016 and features 20 complications: five chiming functions — Grande and Petite Sonnerie, minute and date repeaters, and alarm
In order to have a chance at owning one, you need to apply to purchase it. People who have applied will then be carefully selected by the Stern family, the family which now owns the brand. The reason for this is that Patek wants to ensure that the watches go only to collectors who “genuinely appreciate and value them”. This process can take up to two years.
22. Patek Philippe introduced its iconic Nautilus collection in 1976
After deciding to set their aim on producing an exclusive sports watch with of the highest quality on the market, Patek Philippe released their Nautilus model in 1976.
Today, the Nautilus is the most iconic and most popular model of Patek Philippe.
23. Patek Philippe has produced quartz timepieces and still does
24. Patek manufactures all its watch components in-house
This goes to show the immense attention to detail that goes into making their watches.
25. It was the first brand to use Chronifer M-15 X steel in its watches
This was a new material which had been specially designed for the watchmaking industry by L. Klein SA.
26. The company produced 40,000 watches in 2010
According to Thierry Stern, in 2012, they produced 50,000.
27. In 1933, the Henry Graves Supercomplication was made
The model was made for the banker Henry Graves, Jr.. The watch was an ultra-complicated pocketwatch with 24 functions.
The watch was made for Henry Graves due to his personal and friendly horological competition with James Ward Packard about the most advanced timepieces.
When Graves passed away, the watch was auctioned off in 1999. The price? US$11 million. The watch was sold to Sheikh Saud Bin Mohammed Bin Ali Al-Thani of the Qatari royal family,
When it was sold, it took the title as the most expensive timepiece ever sold. The watch came to action again in 2014, and on November 11th, it sold for a staggering and record-breaking US$24 million at Sotheby’s Geneva Auction.
28. The cases of the watches are often forged from solid pieces of gold or platinum
29. Each and every single part of the Patek timepiece is finished by hand
Each and every single detail of a Patek Philippe watch is finished by hand. Some mean that it’s unnecessary since many times, only the watchmaker can appreciate it, however, when you’re striving for perfection, you can never compromise.
30. Patek released its Grandmaster Chime Ref. 5175R in October 2014
Patek Philippe launched its mythicalGrandmaster Chime Ref. 5175R in 2014. This is the most complicated and most expensive Patek Philippe wristwatch in Patek’s history.
31. Patek launched its Aquanaut collection in 1997
With this launch was the debut of the Ref. 5065A in stainless steel. Today, the Aquanaut is one of the most iconic watches of Patek Philippe, and among the most iconic luxury swiss sport watches in the world.
32. In 2001, the Patek Philippe Museum was inaugurated
The museum was opened in 2001 in the Plainpalais district of Geneva. The Patek Philippe museum has more than 2000 timepieces. It is one of the most well-regarded museums, if not the most well-regarded museums about watchmaking and watches in the world.
Patek Philippe buys some watches at auction to add to the collection of the Patek Philippe Museum.
33. The Ref. 5002P Sky Moon Tourbillon took the record as the most expensive modern wristwatch in 2008
A Patek Philippe watch took the record as the most expensive modern wristwatch sold at Hong KongSotheby’s for HK$11.75 million. The watch was a Ref. 5002P Sky Moon Tourbillon in platinum with a tourbillon.
This broke the previous record of the most expensive wristwatch previously owned by Vacheron Constantin’s Tour de l’Ile wristwatch, which sold for US$1.4 million in 2005.
34. A Patek Philippe watch became the most expensive to be sold at auction in 2010
In 2010, just two years after the previous record, another Patek broke the record and became the most expensive to be sold at auction. The watch was purchased by a Swiss museum and was sold by Christie’s in Geneva on May 10th, 2010. The watch sold for 6.26 million Swiss francs and was a chronograph wristwatch made of yellow gold and featuring a perpetual calendar as well as a moon phase display.
The watch was made in 1943.
35. A Patek wristwatch became the most expensive to be sold online at auction in 2013
Three years later, in 2013, a Patek Philippe watch became the most expensive wristwatch to be sold online at auction. The timepiece was bought by a California collector.
The watch was sold on June 7th, 2013, and the watch sold for 471,000 Euro.
36. The Patek Philippe Ref. 1518 in steel took the title as the most expensive wristwatch ever sold at auction in 2016
In 2016, another Patek Philippe watch would take the record as the most expensive wristwatch ever sold at auction. The watch was auctioned out on November 12th, 2016, and the watch was a Patek Philippe Ref. 1518 in steel.
The watch sold for a staggering 9,600,000 CHF. This was also the first time this watch, only of which four exist, went for auction.
The watch features a chronograph and a perpetual calendar.
37. Patek released the Calibre 89 pocket watch for the 150th anniversary of Patek Philippe
In celebration of the 150th anniversary of Patek Philippe, the Calibre 89 pocket watch with 33 complications was launched.
Facts about Patek Philippe: Bonus fact:
Patek uses traditional case-making techniques
The case-making techniques stretch far back to the 1800s, and these are techniques which have been preserved by a select few watchmakers.
Patek Philippe is unarguably one of the most iconic watch companies of this era when it comes to highly exclusive timepieces crafted to perfection. Patek Philippe is every watch-lover’s dream, as the watches showcase state-of-the-art craftsmanship, but incorporated with tradition and history.
Which of these facts about Patek Philippe did you find the most interesting?