Patek Philippe has designed some incredibly beautiful watches and is known around the world for the craftsmanship and quality of its timepieces. The company was started in 1839 by Antoni Patek and Francois Czapek under the name Patek, Czapek & Co. Pocket watches were the first items that the team designed and sold. Francois Czapek left the company in 1845, and soon after Antoni Patek met a new partner, Jean Adrien Philippe. The company changed its name to Patek Philippe & Co. in 1851 to reflect the change in partnership.
In 1868, Patek Philippe made history by creating the world’s very first wristwatch. Today, the Geneva based icon has brought a host of innovations to the industry and stands out in a sea of watchmakers. Celebrities, dignitaries, and even royalty wear watches made by this brand, and snagging one will cost a pretty penny. Not surprisingly, some of Patek Philippe’s most complicated and intricately detailed watches are also its most expensive.
Here are the top 10 wristwatch models made by Patek Philippe.
1. 1951 Ref 2499
The Ref 2499 First Series is made of made of rose gold and weighs 18 karats. Outstanding features include a moon phase dial, signature stamping, and perpetual calendar. To get your hands on a 1951 Ref 2499 First Series watch, you’ll need to pay at least $2.12 million.
In 2012, a platinum Patek Philippe Ref. 2499 wristwatch was auctioned. There are two things that made this particular watch special: it was one of only two Ref. 2499s made with a platinum case, and it came from the private collection of famous musician Eric Clapton. Clapton is a long time collector of Patek Philippe watches, and his sold for $3,655,757.
2. 1936 Pilot Watch
The Pilot watch was introduced in 1936 and its design was revolutionary due to its case size, which is 55 millimeters in diameter. The chrome and nickel case, black lacquer dial, and scales carved in ivory varnish all combine to make this timepiece a work of art. If you can find this model, expect to pay at least $1.7 million to get one.
3. 1925 Grogan
This watch is unique because it’s the only model made by Patek Philippe that was specifically meant to be worn by left handed people. The controls and keys are all on the left side of the watch, and it has a custom chronograph. Its face is squared and features a gold case. The 1925 Grogan wristwatch fetched $1.95 million when it was auctioned off by Christie’s in 2006.
4. 1923 Officer
The one of a kind 1923 Officer watch has no equal, and exudes classic styling and sophistication. Its yellow gold case weighs 18 karats, and the watch’s chronograph makes it distinctive. The outer ring of this model has two subsidiary dials: one at 9 o’clock that displays continuous seconds, and a 60 minute register at the 3 o’clock position. The 1923 Officer is the only Patek Philippe chronograph watch with a 60 minute counter, and is also the sole model created that has a white enamel dial with black Breguet numerals. After a fierce bidding war, the wristwatch was purchased at an auction by the Patek Philippe Museum for $2,965,000.
5. 1944 Model 1591
1944 saw the introduction of Patek Philippe’s Model 1591, a watch with a bold stainless steel case. It’s extremely rare, and just two are known to exist. Few knew about this model until it was auctioned off for the first time in 1996. How did this watch come to the auction house? By way of India’s Maharajah, who gifted it to his wedding planner. A second Model 1591 was auctioned at a 2007 event by Christie’s, which is when it earned the distinction of being the most expensive watch with a stainless steel case to ever be sold. The highest price seen for a Patek Philippe Model 1591 is $2.26 million.
6. 1957 Model 2499
Patek Philippe’s first series Model 2499 is another rare gem, as only five are known to have been made. The rose gold beauty bears a signature Patek Philippe stamp and weighs 18 karats. During a 2007 event at Christie’s, a 1957 Model 2499 became one of the highest priced watches of any brand to ever be sold at the time. It cost the winning bidder $2.28 million.
7. 1953 Heures Universelles Model 2523
The Patek Philippe Heures Universelles Model 2523 debuted in 1953 and it’s a stunner. Its face features a vibrant design that’s definitely befitting of its name. It’s one of the most meticulously designed watches in the brand’s history and has an enamel dial representative of an entire map of North America. The Heures Universelles Model 2523 has a gold case and weighs 18 karats. It’s quite expensive, and last sold for $2.9 million at auction.
8. 1927 Minute Repeating Wristwatch
This uniquely shaped watch features yellow gold and bears the Graves family coat of arms. The watch was owned by Henry Graves and was engraved with his personal motto “Esse Quam Videri”, which means “to be rather than to seem”. Henry Graves also owned Patek Philippe’s Super Complication clock watch, which was itself worth $11 million and was not a wristwatch.
When Sotheby’s auctioneers put this 1927 Minute Repeating wristwatch up for sale with a reserve price of only $600,000, few knew that the timepiece would sell for nearly five times that amount: $2.99 million.
9. 1939 Platinum World Time
The platinum World Time wristwatch was designed by Patek Philippe in 1939 and is a masterpiece in design. There was only one platinum World Time model made, which sets it apart from the other watches in the collection. Painstaking craftsmanship went into the design, which features a list of 42 of the world’s major cities around the face and exquisite precision. It was sold in 2002 at Antiqorum for $4.03 million.
10. 1943 Ref. 1527
The Patek Philippe wristwatch with the highest price tag at an auction is the 1943 Ref. 1527, which was bought for $5.5 million. It’s fitting that the record breaking sale was made at a 2010 Christie’s auction in Geneva, which has been Patek Philippe’s headquarters since its inception. The wining bidder was a Swiss museum that wanted to put the wristwatch on exhibit because of its unique features and Patek Philippe’s ties to Switzerland.
The vintage timepiece has a chronograph, moon phase display, and an iconic perpetual calendar. Gold Arabic numbers, minute markings, a date indicator, bi-metallic compensation balance, and 23 encrusted gemstones all combine to make a beautiful watch. The dial is silver matte and 37 millimeters, which is larger than dials on most watches designed during the same era. Its yellow gold case weighs 18 karats.