Watch Articles

Why Patek Philippe Is So Expensive

January 23, 2020 - Watch Articles
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Patek Philippes don’t come cheap. In stores, the watches start at $12,500 and go to about $2.5 million. At auction, seven out of the top ten prices for watches have been set by Patek Philippes—including a steel Grandmaster Chime that officially became the world’s most expensive watch when it sold for $31 million a few months ago. Read on, as we reveal the reasons for the brand’s mystique and explain how and why Patek Philippe is so expensive.

Get answers to the following questions:

 

Why is Patek Philippe so expensive?

The top five reasons why Patek Philippe is so expensive:

  1. IT’S SCARCE.

There just aren’t that many around. In all the years since Antoine Norbert de Patek and François Czapek founded the firm as Patek, Czapek & Cie in 1839, there have probably been less than a million made. (Rolex, by contrast, turns out about 800,000 in a single year.)

Patek Philippes take time: about nine months for standard models, two years or more for specialized models. One of the record-setting watches, the Henry Graves Supercomplication that sold for $24 million, took three years to plan and then another five years to put together. More recently, when the company came out with a limited edition Grandmaster Chime for its 175th anniversary, it had already spent eight years figuring out the two dials and 20 complications, then only made seven of them; one was kept for the museum, while the remaining six were sold for $2.5 million each.

The process of making a Patek Philippe watch

2. IT’S A CELEBRITY FAVORITE.

What do mixed martial arts champion Conor McGregor and the Dalai Lama have in common? Patek Philippe. People who could wear other watches for free—or earn money as a  brand ambassador—happily pay for a Patek Philippe. And it’s always been like that. When the fledgling watch company showed its wares at the Crystal Palace during the Great Exhibition of 1851, Queen Victoria bought a Patek Philippe for herself and another for Prince Albert, then passed down her proclivity for Patek Philippes: Queen Elizabeth owns one too.

U.S. General George “Old Blood and Guts” Patton got a Patek Philippe from his parents when he graduated from West Point. Richard Burton bought one for Elizabeth Taylor during the filming of Cleopatra. Pablo Picasso and John Lennon wore Patek Philippes. Italian industrialist Gianni Agnelli strapped his Patek Philippe over his shirt cuff and set a new style.

Today, no celebrity claiming to be a serious collector can be without one: talk show host/watch collector Ellen DeGeneres owns several, as does singer/songwriter John Mayer; music mogul Jay-Z owns multiple Patek Philippes, including a Grandmaster Chime; Skinny Girl mogul/reality TV star Bethenny Frankel owns a pink gold Nautilus with a gray face; and singer/watch addict Ed Sheeran has a Nautilus customized with his initials.

  1. IT’S OBSESSIVE ABOUT HAND-FINISHING.

While most people can’t tell the difference, watch connoisseurs swoon over the antiquated, time-consuming process of hand-finishing. With Patek Philippe, of course, everything is hand-finished. Even the parts you don’t see.

As for the parts you do see: the cases are made the same, no-corners-cut way they were at the end of the 19th century, a process that involves forging the case from a single piece of gold or platinum—with, naturally, no machine finishing. Bracelet links are individually cut and take a trained craftsman most of a full work day to assemble and polish.

  1. IT APPRECIATES LIKE A BLUE-CHIP STOCK.

Patek Philippe has made watches that double in value the minute they leave the store. But it’s not only the fancy custom pieces that bring the big bucks. Nautilus watches, which sold for around $3,000 when they came out in the 1970s, now routinely go for five- or six-figure sums and recently created such a furor that, in 2019, the New York Times ran an article called “It Could Take 8 Years to Get This Patek Philippe. If You Can Get on the List.” Collectors consider them blue-chip stocks. Value may not skyrocket for every model every time, but the market never crashes.

  1. ITS MARKETING IS LOW-KEY.

No Facebook page. No brand ambassadors. No product placement department. While other luxury goods brands seek to stimulate sales by rolling out “must-have” models and complications to create a collecting frenzy, Patek Philippe launches models in the same slow, deliberate way it does everything else. So most new models take three to five years to put together. Except for the ones that take longer.

 

How much is my Patek Philippe worth?

It depends on a number of factors: model, age, condition, box and papers, but also how you sell it. It pays to sell to watch experts who can offer strong prices but also fast payment and a secure service. Get a fast, free estimate from WP Diamonds by clicking on the button below:

Like any work of art, a Patek Phlippe will be worth more if you can document its authenticity and provenance. So, you’ll need to start with basics like your watch’s  model and case number, plus a description of its dial, bracelet, and any engraving.

Paperwork will be of paramount importance. Patek Philippe provides a Certificate of Origin that functions as your watch’s birth certificate and guarantees its warranty. Once lost, it’s irreplaceable. So, if yours is missing, you may want to apply for an “extract” from the Patek Philippe archives, a process that takes about 12 weeks and costs about $150. The extract won’t guarantee authenticity or work as a warranty but it will detail the history of your timepiece up until the time it was sold.

 

Where to sell a Patek Philippe for the best price? 

While everyone will be eager to get their hands on a Patek Philippe, not everyone will be motivated to give you a good price. For example: Your local pawn shop or jeweller makes a profit from selling to a more specialized dealer or placing the piece at auction, meaning that the less they offer you then the greater their profits will be. A visit to Hatton Garden, London’s jewellery district, will probably bring a higher price—if you can get there.

If you place your Patek Philippe in a consignment shop, you can set your price but you can’t guarantee that it will be spotted by a collector. And you’ll have to pay either a placement fee, or a portion of your profits, or both.

Likewise, listing your piece with a traditional auction house is a luck-of-the-draw proposition. Your piece may catch the eye of a collector. Or it may not. Either way, you have to wait for the auction to be scheduled and be prepared to pay the seller’s fee to the auction house.

Online auctions vary in format and also don’t guarantee a sale. Some post your piece on their platform and take over the description and photography (charging you for the privilege, or course). Others, like eBay, let you do all the work yourself. However, every one of them will take either a fee for listing your piece and/or a percentage of your profit.

Get the best price for your Patek Philippe watchHowever, there is an alternative that’s fast, convenient, and brings you a great price: selling your Patek Philippe watch to WP Diamonds. Created in 2012 as a 21st-century alternative to pawnbrokers and auction houses, WP Diamonds can complete the buying and selling process in as little as 48 hours. Our watch experts will buy your Patek Philippe watch outright, with no hidden fees or commissions deducted. Find out what your watch will earn by clicking on the button below—and you’ll discover why we pride ourselves on our superb customer service and excellent customer reviews.

Where to buy Patek Philippe watches for the best price?

On our partner site, Gemma by WP Diamonds, you can shop a selection of pre-owned Patek Philippe watches at up to 55 percent off retail: there you’ll find everything from a men’s stainless steel Nautilus Annual Calendar to a ladies’ white-gold-and-diamond Twenty-4—all authenticated and warrantied by our team of luxury watch experts.

With our savings, easy monthly payment plans, free U.S. shipping and 14-day return policy, your opportunity to own one—or more—Patek Philippe watches may be just a click away.


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