Even non-watch enthusiasts are familiar with the biggest horological giants, like Rolex and Omega. They’re well-established brands with myriads of loyal customers worldwide. For the real watch aficionados, there is an even higher tier of luxury watchmakers, and at the top of that list is the prestigious brand Patek Philippe, with its famously high luxury prices.
Patek Philippe is part of the “Holy Trinity” of watchmakers, alongside Audemars Piguet and Vacheron Constantin. These three brands have been at the forefront of watchmaking innovation while retaining their independence, which is what earned them this name. Patek Philippe has a slight edge over the other two. Many consider it the best high-end luxury watch brand.
As such, it’s no surprise that Patek Philippe prices its watches very highly to account for their quality and brand name. However, are Patek Philipp watches really worth it? Are Patek Philippe watch prices actually reasonable for what you get? Finally, should you look to buy one for yourself?
If you want the answers to these questions, keep on reading!
Patek Philippe Brand and History
Patek Philippe’s prestige in the watch world is unparalleled. Since its nascent stages, it has enjoyed a close relationship with many famous individuals, including the British Royal Family. It is also one of the oldest watch brands, with over 180 years of operation without interruption.
The brand was initially founded in 1839 by Polish watchmakers Antoni Patek and Franciszek Czapek but was quickly disbanded due to disagreements between the two. Patek went on to collaborate with famous watchmaker Adrien Philippe and created the brand as we know it today.
During the Great Depression of the 1930s, Patek Philippe was bought by new owners: Charles Stern and Jean Stern. The two brothers owned the watch dial factory that supplied Patek Philippe, so they were already deeply familiar with horology and the watch business.
The Stern family has owned the brand ever since, with the current president being Thierry Stern. In the last few years, Patek Philippe has slowed down its production to maintain its exclusivity, with only around 60,000 pieces produced annually.
Patek Philippe Watch Prices - How Much Do They Cost?
Let’s not beat around the bush. Patek Philippe produces some of the most expensive watches on the market. When looking at lists of the most expensive watches ever sold at auction, a good percentage were made by Patek Philippe, and they sold for millions of dollars. Thankfully, not all Patek Philippe watch prices are quite that exorbitant.
In general, Patek Philippe prices start at 5 digits for some of its most popular watch models. That’s usually the price range most people look at when it comes to a new Patek Philippe watch. For the average person, this is still a considerable amount of money to spend on a single watch. So, what is it that makes Patek Philippe watches so expensive?
Why Is Patek Phillippe Expensive?
In recent years, more people have discovered the prestige of Patek Philippe watches, thanks to several celebrities owning and wearing them, including John Mayer and Robert Downey Jr. There are a few excellent reasons wh die-hard watch aficionados respect this brand so much, and why Patek Philippe watch prices are justifiably this high.
Most watch brands, including horological giants such as Rolex, use machinery to manufacture their watches. However, that’s not the case with Patek Philippe's timepieces. Most of the brand’s watches are hand-crafted by some of the best watchmakers in the world. This inevitably means that they’re more expensive to produce and fetch a higher price in the market.
Also, let’s not forget that Patek Philippe produces some of the most intricate mechanical movements in the world. These calibers are fully decorated, often with precious metals, and can also feature some unique complications. They’re mechanically beautiful and fascinating, which is exactly what makes an object a luxury item.
Patek Philippe’s preference for precious materials is also evident in the general construction of its timepieces. While some of its sportier models are made of stainless steel, the majority of Patek Philippe watches are made in gold, white gold, or rose gold. As you can imagine, a watch made out of these precious materials will be much more expensive than one made out of steel.
Another aspect of Patek Philippe watches is their unmatched finishing and attention to detail. Every part of the watch is finished to perfection, and the polishing of the watch cases is immaculate. This requires watchmakers with great skill and a lot of time, which translates to a higher price.
The fact that every single Patek Philippe timepiece is complicated to manufacture makes it unique and exclusive.
It also means that the brand’s yearly output and overall inventory are limited. This lengthy and complex manufacturing process is partially the reason for the excessive Patek Philippe prices.
However, the brand’s exclusivity is one of the reasons most people are attracted to Patek Philippe. The feeling that they are purchasing the best of the best and a one-of-a-kind timepiece is unparalleled, and Patek relies on that feeling to attract more customers.
Each watch can become a collector’s item, and watch trading experts like Pejman Ghadimi see them as genuine investments.
Is Patek More Expensive Than Rolex?
With Rolex being possibly the most well-known watch brand globally, you would expect that it would also be the most expensive. However, while Rolex watches are generally considered very expensive, their retail prices don’t even come close to those of Patek Philippe. Rolex is a luxury brand. Patek Philippe is a cut above.
Due to their craftsmanship, quality, and exclusivity, Patek Philippe watches fetch significantly higher prices than Rolex watches, both at retail and in the used market. Some Patek watches cost hundreds of thousands or even more than a million dollars, while Rolex watches usually cost a few thousand dollars.
A good example for comparison is both brands’ entry-level options. The Patek Philippe Aquanaut’s retail price is around $20,000, whereas the Rolex Oyster Perpetual has a retail price of just over $5,000. Not to mention the fact that the Aquanaut is almost impossible to find at retail, which raises its price even more.
Is a Patek Philippe a Good Investment?
In general, despite their seemingly exorbitant prices, we believe that Patek Philippe watches are an excellent investment. For watch enthusiasts, Patek Philippe symbolizes the pinnacle of watchmaking. The brand’s overall quality is second to none, and if you take good care of your timepiece, it can last for many generations.
Even if you’re not a huge watch fan and simply want a profitable way to invest your money, buying into Patek watches can be very lucrative. As time goes on, more and more people will want to own a Patek Philippe watch.
However, the brand’s production rate is unlikely to increase significantly. Demand will always rise, but the supply won’t.
Therefore, Patek Philippe watches will only appreciate in value, making them an excellent piece of investment. An example of this is the immensely popular Nautilus model that resells for more than three times its retail price.
Where to Shop for Patek Philippe Watches
The biggest issue with shopping for Patek Philippe watches is that they are very scarce. You simply cannot walk into a Patek retail store and expect to find the watch you want. Specifically, watches like the Nautilus or Aquanaut are tough to find because of their incredibly high demand. Therefore, if you’re eager to get your hands on one of these models, you’ll need to find someone who sells one and pay a lot more for it.
Another option is to develop a good relationship with your local authorized dealer to secure a place on the waiting list for a brand new Nautilus or Aquanaut. However, be prepared to wait for several years, as these waiting lists can be enormous.
Patek Philippe Is on Top of the Watch World
While expensive, Patek Philippe watch prices are sensible, and the brand definitely deserves its status as the best high-end luxury watchmaker. Its timepieces are built excellently, and the brand is known to produce some of the best watch movements in the market.
Even though it is a significant financial investment, getting a Patek Philippe watch is definitely worth it if you’re a watch enthusiast. After all, you get the best of the best, and you’ll be a part of a very exclusive club of Patek owners.
However, you also need to remember that such a huge money investment needs care and attention. Patek Philippe watches are not made for rugged conditions, and you should store them safely when you’re not wearing them.
At Operandi Firenze, we adore the craftsmanship that goes into luxury watches, and we’ve applied the same obsession to the design of our watch rolls. Each Operandi watch roll is engineered to keep high-end watches safe and protected, with thousands of hours of testing to back our designs. Each roll is crafted of premium Italian leather, to match the prestige of your Patek Philippe timepiece.
So, go out there, find out what it really means to own a high-end luxury watch, and don’t forget to keep an eye on the time!