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05/27/2021
 4 minutes

Why is Patek Philippe so expensive?

By Jorg Weppelink
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Patek Philippe is, without a doubt, one of the finest brands in the watch industry. In fact, Patek Philipp is among the world’s most loved luxury watch brands, alongside Rolex and Audemars Piguet. Patek Philippe watches are incredibly popular among collectors thanks to their rich history, strong market performance, and technical brilliance. Watch enthusiasts greatly appreciate the incredible level of craftsmanship that goes into creating Patek Philippe’s timepieces.

Patek Philippe: The Ultimate in Luxury Watchmaking

In recent years, a younger demographic has discovered Patek Philippe for themselves because the brand represents the ultimate in luxury watchmaking. As a status symbol, Patek Philippe watches also grace the wrists of many celebrities from the worlds of cinema, music, and sports. Patek Philippe watches, however, come at a price. As the ultimate in luxury, they are incredibly expensive. This raises the question: Are they worth the money? Let’s find out why their watches are more expensive than those of many other brands.

Patek Philippe Ref. 5550P (1)
Easily one of the most important luxury watch brands: Patek Philippe

Patek Philippe: The Difference Between List Price and Market Price

Talking about the prices of Patek Philippe watches requires making an important distinction between their list prices and actual market prices. Because their most popular models are in incredibly high demand, you can forget about strolling into a Patek Philippe boutique and walking out with one of their flagship models like the Aquanaut or the Nautilus. The demand for Patek Philippe timepieces far outpaces supply, meaning market prices for them have risen drastically over the past few years. Let’s find out more about the brand’s pricing and how it comes to be.

Patek Philippe models cover a vast price range, costing anywhere from just under $20,000 to more than $1.5 million. With a list price of $18,940, the stainless steel Aquanaut 5167A is a lot more expensive than, for instance, Rolex’s entry-level 41mm Oyster Perpetual. So what causes Patek Philippe’s higher prices compared to Rolex? Let’s take look at some key production aspects to shed some light on this issue.

Patek Philippe vs. Rolex: Craftsmanship vs. Machine Production

A major factor in Patek Philippe’s prices is their production methods. While Rolex relies on machines to produce their watches, Patek Philippe crafts most of their timepieces completely by hand. But it’s not just the production technique that matters. Most Patek Philippe watches also boast incredible calibers, with many models featuring a display caseback that lets you gaze upon the movement. Each Patek Philippe is a work of art characterized by technical ingenuity, an incredible level of detail, and immaculate finishing.

Patek Philippe Watch
Patek Philippe: Perfect precision

Another cost factor is the level of detail and finishing put into a Patek Philippe watch; this is much higher than almost any other luxury brand. Achieving the combination of a brilliantly polished case with a beautifully finished movement requires extensive skill, which means higher prices.

Precious From the Inside Out: Patek Philippe’s Materials

Furthermore, Patek Philippe extensively uses precious metals for their watches, with most timepieces coming in rose gold, white gold, yellow gold, or platinum. The manufacturer only uses stainless steel for a small selection of watches. Patek Philippe also integrates expensive materials into their movements for even more unique creations, raising their prices accordingly.

The way Patek Philippe watches are created means their production takes longer, resulting in lower inventories than most other luxury brands. This makes Patek Philippe watches highly exclusive and, thus, expensive. Herein lies the brand’s magic: Give customers the feeling that they’re purchasing something special, just for them, and that’s one-of-a-kind. Watch owners know they’re getting the very best with Patek Philippe and are willing to pay for it.

Is Patek Philippe worth the money?

With all of this in mind, it’s understandable that Patek Philippe watches are more expensive than most of their luxury competitors. But what you get in return is something special that lasts a lifetime. More and more people have come to recognize this and are showing it with their wallets. They are willing to pay well above the list price for a Patek Philippe. Looking at the brand’s most popular models on Chrono24, you’ll quickly see that the prices for these models exceed their list price, sometimes by two or three times the amount.

Patek Philippe Nautilus
Market prices for popular models such as the Nautilus are often two to three times higher than their list prices.

This is particularly the case when looking at the financial performance of the Nautilus and the Aquanaut. These are by far the most popular lines of watches the brand creates. However, it’s also worth checking out the timepieces from the Calatrava line and some of Patek’s more spectacular annual calendar and perpetual calendar pieces. Market prices for watches, as always, are governed by supply and demand. With the current prices the Aquanaut and Nautilus are commanding, it’s clear to me that there are plenty of buyers for them.

I like to say that market prices should be left up to the buyers. And if you ask me, that’s what you see with Patek Philippe watches. They’re a special brand with a wonderful history and create some of the best and most exquisite timepieces known today. With their remarkable, sometimes astounding watches and company pedigree, it’s probably safe to say that they’re worth every penny if you can afford them. Only then will you be able to judge the real magic of the Patek Philippe brand and experience for yourself whether the money you paid is worth it.

Read more

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About the Author

Jorg Weppelink

Hi, I'm Jorg, and I've been writing articles for Chrono24 since 2016. However, my relationship with Chrono24 goes back a bit longer, as my love for watches began …

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