Patek Philippe SA

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Patek Philippe SA
IndustryLuxury watchmaking[1][2][3][4]
Founded1839 (Patek, Czapek & Cie.)
1851 (Patek, Philippe & Cie.)[5]
FounderAntoni Patek
Adrien Philippe
HeadquartersPlan-les-Ouates, GE, Switzerland
Area served
Key people
Philippe Stern,
Honorary President
Thierry Stern,
Claude Peny,
RevenueIncrease 1.3 billion CHF (2016)
Number of employees

Patek Philippe SA is a luxury Swiss watch manufacturer founded in 1839, located in Geneva and the Vallée de Joux.[7] It designs and manufactures timepieces and movements, including some of the most complicated mechanical watches. Patek Philippe is considered by many experts and aficionados to be one of the most prestigious watch manufacturers.[8] The company maintains over 400 retail locations globally and over a dozen distribution centers across Europe, Asia and North America.[9][10]

As of November 2018, among the world's top 10 most expensive watches ever sold at auctions, 7 are Patek Philippe watches. In particular, Patek Philippe Henry Graves Supercomplication currently holds the title of the most expensive watch ever sold at auction, with a final price of 24 million US dollars (23,237,000 CHF) sold in Geneva on November 11th, 2014.[11][12][13][14]


Along with his fellow Czech-born Polish partner Franciszek Czapek, Polish watchmaker Antoni Patek formed Patek, Czapek & Cie in 1839 in Geneva and started making pocket watches.[15] They separated in 1844, and in 1845 Patek joined with the French watchmaker Adrien Philippe, inventor of the keyless winding mechanism. Patek Philippe & Co was founded in 1851. Patek Philippe popularized the perpetual calendar, split-seconds hand, chronograph, and minute repeater in watches.[citation needed]

In 1935, the manufacturer was brought to American markets by New York-based Henri Stern Watch Agency,[16] where it was sold as a sister brand alongside Universal Genève. Alan Banbery, who previously designed Universal's "Compax" movements and worked as a horologist for London's Garrard & Co, would take on the position of director of sales in 1965 and later authored official reference books on vintage Patek Philippe pocketwatches and chronographs.

In 1976, the Swiss watchmaker introduced the Nautilus collection after deciding that it was time to also produce an exclusive sport watch with finishes of the highest quality. "The new model had a key role for Patek's overall marketing strategy as it had to refresh the brand image while perpetuating tradition. The target was represented by dynamic business managers of the new generations".[17]

Like other Swiss manufacturers, the company produces mostly mechanical movements of the automatic and manual wind variety, but has produced quartz watches in the past and currently does. The company even produced a prototype for a mechanical digital wristwatch, Ref. 3414 in 1954. Patek were notable for being one of 20 Swiss watch companies to develop the first Swiss production watch the beta 21 used by other manufacturers in watches such as the Omega Electroquartz watches.

Patek Philippe manufactures its own watch components.[6] It was also the first Brand that used the Chronifer M-15 X steel, a new material specially designed for the watch making industry by L. Klein SA.

Patek Philippe timepieces have recorded high prices in auctions worldwide. A small part of the demand for auction pieces is driven by Patek Philippe themselves, as they are purchasing in the auction market to add to the collection of the Patek Philippe Museum in Geneva.[18][19][20]

In 2010, the company produced 40,000 watches.[21] According to Thierry Stern, in 2012, they produced 50,000.[22]

The company has been owned by the Stern family since 1932, and, as of the late 2000s, led by Philippe Stern and his son Thierry Stern, who took over the reins from his father in 2010.[21][23][24]


Most expensive[edit]

The Henry Graves Supercomplication was made in 1933 for the prominent banker Henry Graves, Jr.. The ultra-complicated pocketwatch (having 24 functions) was the result of Graves' friendly horological competition with James Ward Packard. After Graves' death, the watch was auctioned at Sotheby's in December 1999 for US$11 million to Sheikh Saud Bin Mohammed Bin Ali Al-Thani of the Qatari royal family, at that time the most expensive timepiece ever sold.[25] The watch sold at Sotheby's Geneva Auction on November 11, 2014, for a record breaking US$24 million.[26]

On April 10, 2008, "Ref. 5002P Sky Moon Tourbillon", a platinum Patek Philippe tourbillon wristwatch, made the world record as the most expensive modern wristwatch sold at Hong Kong Sotheby's for HK$11.75 million (US$1.4 million). The record was held along Vacheron Constantin Tour de l'Ile wristwatch, which sold at Antiquorum for US$1.4 million in Geneva in 2005.[27]

On May 10, 2010, a Patek Philippe wristwatch became the most expensive to be sold at auction when purchased by a Swiss museum, through Christie's in Geneva, for 6.26 million Swiss francs (US$5.5 million). The chronograph wristwatch,[28] made of yellow gold, has a perpetual calendar and moonphase display, and was produced in 1943 in the Geneva manufacture of Patek Philippe.

On June 7, 2013, a Patek Philippe wristwatch reference #2499 became the most expensive to be sold online at auction when purchased by a California collector, through Auctionata in Berlin, for 471,000 Euro (US$611,000). The chronograph wristwatch,[29] from yellow gold, has a perpetual calendar and moonphase display, and was produced in 1953 in the Geneva manufacture of Patek Philippe.

On November 12, 2016, the Patek Philippe Ref. 1518 in steel took the title as the most expensive wristwatch ever sold at auction. Sold through Phillips Geneva auction house, the piece finally sold for 9,600,000 CHF (11,002,000 CHF including sellers fees).[30] This was the first time this watch, which is one of only four ever made in a steel case, went for auction. This piece was the first of the four made and features a chronograph and perpetual calendar.[31]

Watches owned by royalty[edit]

In 1851, Patek Philippe started supplying its watches to Queen Victoria and her consort, Prince Albert.[5][32] Queen Victoria acquired a key-wound Patek Philippe watch created in a pendant style in November 1851 during the Great Exhibition of London.[5][32] The queen owned one more exclusive Patek Philippe timepiece, to be worn pinned to clothing. This watch was suspended from a diamond and enamel brooch.[5][32]

Patek Philippe clientele has included Christian IX and Princess Louise of Denmark (the king and queen of Denmark), Victor Emmanuel III of Italy (king of Italy and Duke of Savoy), Hussein Kamel (Sultan of Egypt from 1914 to 1918).[33]

Anniversary edition[edit]

In 1989, Patek created one of the most complicated mechanical watches ever made,[34] the Calibre 89, created for the 150th anniversary of the company. It holds 39 complications, including the date of Easter, time of sunrise, equation of time, sidereal time, and many other indicators. 1,728 unique parts allow sidereal time, a 2,800 star chart, and more.[35] The Calibre 89 is also able to add a day to February for leap years while leaving out the extra day for every 100 year interval.

Lever escapement[edit]

In 2005, the company introduced the silicon escapement wheel to the industry.[36]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ White Paper On Fine Watchmaking, 26 April 2017
  2. ^ Vicki M. Young (26 April 2017), FHH Seeks to Define Fine Watchmaking in White Paper
  3. ^ Carol Besler (27 April 2017), White Paper On Fine Watchmaking Identifies 64 Brands That Measure Up ... For Now
  4. ^ Corinne Gretler (26 April 2017), Sorry Longines and Tudor: Group Says Your Watches Aren’t ‘Fine’
  5. ^ a b c d Cf. Patek Philippe website official history timeline
  6. ^ a b Berman, Stacy (June 16, 2014). "Patek Philippe Crafts Its Future". Fortune: 37–44.
  7. ^ GENEVE, PATEK PHILIPPE SA. "Patek Philippe | Company | History". Patek Philippe SA. Retrieved 2018-11-26.
  8. ^ Michael Korda (1 January 2004), Marking Time: Collecting Watches and Thinking about Time, Barnes & Noble Publishing, pp. 71–, ISBN 978-0-7607-3576-3
  9. ^ GENEVE, PATEK PHILIPPE SA. "Patek Philippe SA | Authorized Retailers". Retrieved 2018-05-07.
  10. ^ GENEVE, PATEK PHILIPPE SA. "Patek Philippe SA | Distributors". Retrieved 2018-05-07.
  11. ^ Adams, Ariel. "$24,000,000 Patek Philippe Supercomplication Pocket Watch Beats Its Own Record At Auction". Forbes. Retrieved 2018-11-23.
  12. ^ "Swiss Pocket Watch Sells for Record $24 Million". Time. Retrieved 2018-11-23.
  13. ^ "Patek Philippe gold watch sells for record $24.4M - CNN". CNN Style. 2014-11-12. Retrieved 2018-11-23.
  14. ^ "Patek Philippe (THE HENRY GRAVES JR. SUPERCOMPLICATION)". Sotheby's.
  15. ^ GENEVE, PATEK PHILIPPE SA. "Patek Philippe SA | History". Retrieved 2018-05-07.
  16. ^ Perman, Stacy (2013). A Grand Complication: The Race to Build the World's Most Legendary Watch. Simon & Schuster. p. 220. ISBN 1439190089.
  17. ^ History of the Patek Philippe Nautilus, 2015
  18. ^ Clerizo, Michael, "Watch Auctions: Time Honored: With their mystique, brands like Patek Philippe can command hundreds of thousands of dollars at watch auctions", The Wall Street Journal, April 29, 2010
  19. ^ Frank, Robert, "All That Glitters May Not Be Gold", The Wall Street Journal, October 8, 2007
  20. ^ Patek Philippe SA. "PATEK PHILIPPE SA - Welcome to Our Official Website". Retrieved 24 May 2016.
  21. ^ a b KPMG, "Standing the Test of Time", pp.16-18, in Consumer Currents, Issue 5, 2008, KPMG International
  22. ^ GMT - Great Magazine of Timepieces, No. 31 - Spring 2013, Interview with Thierry Stern, P.80-82
  23. ^ "Thierry Stern - Prestige Magazine". Prestige Magazine. 2016-07-12. Retrieved 2017-02-06.
  24. ^ "Robb Report".
  25. ^ Rohleder, Anna (November 28, 2001). "The Most Expensive Watch". Archived from the original on November 23, 2010. Retrieved November 3, 2007.. .
  26. ^ Ariel Adams (12 November 2014). "$24,000,000 Patek Philippe Supercomplication Pocket Watch Beats Its Own Record At Auction". Forbes. Retrieved 24 May 2016.
  27. ^ "Watch sets record price at Hong Kong auction", Reuters (UK), Thursday, April 10, 2008
  28. ^ "RESULTS: Important Watches including a Connoisseur's Vision Part II", Christie's, press release, 10 May 2010
  29. ^ "Patek Philippe reference 2499 sells online for a record USD 621k", The Watchlounge, auction report, 10 June 2013
  30. ^ "Most Expensive Wrist Watch Ever Sold? Patek Philippe Ref. 1518",, News, 12 Nov 2016
  31. ^
  32. ^ a b c Timepieces for Royalty – 1850-1910 by Patek Philippe, Geneva : Patek Philippe Museum, 2005.
  33. ^ "Timepieces Owned by Kings and Queens". Retrieved 24 May 2016.
  34. ^ The 9 Most Important Watches in the World John Biggs, Popular Mechanics
  35. ^ "The Patek Philippe Caliber 89". Archived from the original on October 26, 2007. Retrieved November 3, 2007.
  36. ^ "The, Patek Philippe 2005 technical innovations". Retrieved January 23, 2009.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]