Patek Philippe SA is perhaps the world’s most renown creator of luxurious timepieces with the most intricate mechanisms. The Swiss company has produced some of the most famous and valuable clocks and watches in the world. In fact, the company’s motto since 1996 is “You never actually own a Patek Philippe. You merely look after it for the next generation.” In 1981 Patek Philippe introduced its first Skeleton watch, allowing its owners to see the intricate mechanisms at work. Not only are the complicated hand made mechanisms viewable through transparent casing, but owners can revel in the gold and jewels carefully laid into the mechanisms as well hand cut engravings unique to each timepiece.
Patek Philippe SA was founded by Swiss born Antonie Patek and Polish born Franciszek Czapek in 1839 to create clocks and pocket watches. Six years later the friends would part ways and Patek partnered with Adrien Philippe. The pair established Patek Philippe in Geneva, Switzerland. The company would remain within the families for decades before passing on to the Stern family in the twentieth century. Known for their intricate precise mechanisms and bejeweled intricately hand crafted timepieces, Patek Philippe quickly became popular with European royalty. Queen Victoria of England acquired her beloved keyless pendant watch at the Great Exhibition in London in 1851. The timepiece featured hand cut rose diamonds set in a pattern of a bouquet of flowers and was suspended from a brooch made with enamel and adorned in diamonds. In 1868 Patek Philippe created a special timepiece for Countess Koscaowicz of Hungary that rested on a beautiful bracelet, one of the first wristwatches.
Patek Philippe SA would continue its ownership through the Philippe family commissioning some of the finest artists with the finest craftsmanship while maintaining the intricacy of its beautiful clocks, pocket and wrist watches. The company would continue to attract the attention of both royals and celebrities including heads of states, authors, artists and scientists. In 1915 Albert Einstein commissioned a gold pocket watch from Patek Philppe. In 1935 the Swiss Stern family, a major supplier of Patek Philippe timepieces brought the brand to American markets. The Stern family would eventually acquire Patek Philippe, and the company remains in the Stern family today.
Through the twentieth and twenty-first century, Patek Philippe SA would continue to create luxury intricate watches eventually adding more modern, youthful sporty versions in its Nautilus and Aquanaut collections. In 1981 the watchmakers introduced the first self winding skeleton model, #3878, at Basel. Several popular Patek Philippe watches were skeletonized. The skeletonized models feature transparent cases so the detailed intricate mechanisms could be viewed. The craftsmanship is impeccable. Hand made movements feature gold, jewels and unique engravings by the craftsmen. Because each timepiece is hand made, they are rare and valuable. There are believed to be only 60 skeleton Patek Philippe’s created during the 1980’s and 1990’s.
1. Ref. 5180/1R Complications Calatrova Rose Gold Ladies Skeleton Watch
The Ref. 5180/1R Calatrova Rose Gold Ladies Skeleton watch is valued over $95,000. The watch was created in 2017 the 40th anniversary of another Patek Philippe rose gold model. The thin self winding movement features a transparent rose gold case with a sapphire back. This was the first Patek Philippe skeleton model to feature the winding rotor engraved with the Patek Philippe logo and seal. The off center mini rotor is made with 22K gold. This model features 6 bridges and 27 jewels within its case. The case is water resistant to 30 meters. Its diameter is 39 mm and its height is 6.7 mm. The bracelet is complimentary rose gold with Patek Philippe’s standard fold clasp. This unique watch is sturdy, elegant and luxurious.
2. Ref. 7180/1G Ultra Thin Skeleton Watch
The Patek Philippe Ref. 7180/1G is valued at $97,500. The transparent skeletonized wristwatch has the standard Patek Philippe features including water resistance to 30 meters, shock absorption, a 43 hour power reserve and a sapphire crystal case back. This calibre 117 SQ model features ultra thin, hand crafted gold and jewel adorned movement. There are 18 jewels hand laid into the 110 components of the mechanism which features hand engraved pearlage. This model is unique for its dark blue steel hands atop a striking dark black display.
3. Ref. 3878 18K Gold Automatic Skeleton Watch
The Patek Philippe Ref. 3878 wristwatch was manufactured in 1990. It is valued at $57,500. The watch is calebre 240 SQ. The finish on the watch is ultra thin gilt. The micro rotor has made with 22K gold. The mechanism features 27 set jewels. The 31 mm case is circular and signed by its craftsman. The crown is cabochon sapphire. The display is glazed. This unique Patek Philippe transparent skeleton model features an 18K gold fold over buckle.
4. Ref. 3880 18K Gold Manual Wind Skeleton Watch
The Patek Philippe Ref. 3880 was manufactured in 1993. It is valued at over $30,000. The 18K gold and gilt brass wristwatch is manually wound. Its calibre is 177 SQ. The elliptical shaped transparent case has 2 parts and has a cabochon sapphire set crown. It uniquely resembles the first series of the Patek Philippe skeleton collection. There are 18 jewels set into the hand engraved mechanism with signed movement. This model is unique for its blue steel cathédral hands. The bracelet features an 18K gold fold over buckle. This unique manual wound Patek Philippe is interesting for its transparent mechanisms and its gold and jewel features.
5. Ref. 3885 Yellow Gold and Enamel Manual Wind Skeleton Watch
The skeleltonized version of Patek Philippe’s Ref. 3885 yellow gold and enamel manual winding watch was created in 1992 and is valued at over $20,500. It has a 2 part 18 carat gold transparent casing has a snap on sapphire back. The dial and movement are signed by its craftsman. The dial features a blue enamel outer band with dot hour markers. The dial is also signed. The mechanisms feature 18K gold and 18 hand laid jewels. The buckle is 18K gold.