A watch novice introduced to Patek Philippe via social media would be forgiven for thinking that this venerable brand only produced aquatic-themed sports watches. Yes, the Nautilus and the marginally more attainable Aquanaut are hot right now, with speculation on future values rife, but there is so much more to Patek Philippe than its current poster children.
It’s the creation of Grand Complications that really sets Patek Philippe apart. Back when American industrialists competed in a game of horological one-upmanship, they used Patek Philippe’s workshops as their playground.
The Palmer, the Packard and the Graves are names forever linked with highly complicated pocket watches and that lineage continues to this day in the brand’s wristwatch collection. Perpetual calendars, tourbillons, minute repeaters, alarms, rattrapante, and world time functions are layered like mille-feuille and cased in Patek’s classically restrained style; if we overlook the somewhat Game of Thrones-inspired Sky Moon Tourbillon, that is. Allocation of the most complex is extremely restricted leading to good value retention in the secondary market.
For more everyday wear, Patek Philippe has carved out a strong position in ‘practical complications’, bringing all its haute-horology know-how to annual calendars and travel-time watches. These are features that wearers will actually use, and they come with a far lower price tag than their ‘Grand Comp’ siblings.
If complexity isn’t your thing, the Calatrava has come to define the dress watch with its Bauhaus-inspired austerity. These watches may not go up in value the way that steel sports might, but they hold their residuals better than anything bar Rolex, and what they lack in financial appreciation, they gain in user appreciation.
Yes, the Nautilus is hot right now, but there is so much more to Patek than its current poster child
If your budget doesn’t stretch to the RRP of even the simplest models, don’t overlook the vintage market. Patek’s long history has given birth to numerous design classics, from Gondolos to Disco Volantes to Golden Ellipses. While a vintage supercomplication pocket watch may trade in the millions, a vintage Calatrava would be well under £10,000.
Patek Philippe’s workshops can still service anything the company has produced since 1839, but be sure to buy the best condition you can afford, so the service bill doesn’t eclipse the price of your Ellipse.
When it comes to your choice of where to buy a pre-owned Patek Philippe, head to specialist online auction platform watchcollecting.com. With a buyer’s premium of only 6% over £10,000 and £600 below, it offers a far better deal than a traditional auctioneer. And when it comes to parting ways with your Patek Philippe, watchcollecting.com has zero sellers fees.