Beginners guide to collecting

A Beginner’s Guide to Collecting Patek Philippe

Five reasons why Patek Philippe is the most coveted watch brand in the world

We all have our own reasons to collect. It’s very personal and everyone has a story to tell about why they own or desire a Patek Philippe. For me, it is an obsession. All things Patek Philippe are interesting to me and inform my collecting journey. Below, I explain the five reasons why Patek Philippe – in my opinion – is the most coveted watch brand in the world.

1. Craftsmanship

Let’s start with what is most important – the watches themselves. From the day Antoine Norbert de Patek started the company, the goal was to make ‘the most perfect watch.’ Over time the definition of ‘perfect’ has changed for the company, but the focus has always been on making the most accurate and aesthetically beautiful watches the world has ever seen. The result is not only a historical commitment to the highest levels of chronometry, but also an equal dedication to preserving traditional crafts including all forms of enameling, jewel-setting, engraving, and marquetry – the list goes on. Patek is the king, past and present, of watchmaking craftsmanship.

2. Design and aesthetic

With the design of watches, no other brand has the historical breadth to draw on when it comes to aesthetics as Patek Philippe. Decade after decade, the company has made watches for men and women in thousands of variations, highlighting different forms of the watchmaking arts along the way. All have the Patek DNA and the closer one looks at each piece, the more it becomes crystal clear how Patek separates from the pack in terms of traditional finishing techniques with the movements, cases and dials.

3. Scarcity and rarity

With such a wide variety of production, and over 180 years of making watches, it is especially notable how few Pateks actually exist. It is estimated that fewer than one million Patek watches have been made since the day the company started. (This is a relatively tiny number when one considers that several of the other major watchmakers produce over one million timepieces per year.) Some timepieces may be one of only a handful to have been made, and many are unique pieces. The ability to buy a true work of art, made by hand, for a relatively small amount of money is the ultimate value proposition for collecting Patek Philippe.

4. Value and investment

Investment is not the focus of Collectability and I always advise people not to collect solely to make a profit. Collecting as an investment generally does not end well, as people make mistakes, buying for the wrong reasons. However, the numbers speak for themselves and no other watch brand retains or grows in value more than Patek Philippe. There is a reason why, on average, in terms of value, over 50% of the global watch auction market is dominated by Patek Philippe. Almost all of the world records at auction are also for Patek timepieces. The fact that one can enter the world of Patek spending less than 10,000 USD or even 5,000 USD, means that it is possible for many watch collectors to start on the Patek ladder. It is incredible how wide open the opportunities are for buying Patek Philippe for short or long-term goals across all value points.

Ultimately, one should buy with a collector’s heart as much as an accountant’s head. The numbers and track record of the selling prices of Pateks are undeniably persuasive and there appears to be no end in sight to the growing demand, while the supply of vintage watches, by very definition, can’t increase.


5. Archival resources

Scholarship is what matters most when collecting Patek Philippe. Buying modern watches from authorized dealers is the only way to know for sure where the watch came from the day you buy it. However, resources exist that make it easy for collectors to check their watches directly with Patek Philippe Geneva.

The Extracts from the Archives make it easy to ascertain the original date of production and sale of any Patek ever made, as well as sourcing a general description of how a watch looked when it originally left the manufacture. In a way, this is the root of the Patek Philippe blockchain, a concept that we will be exploring further. In terms of the forensics of collecting Patek Philippe, the archives are the foundation for all further exploration and critical assessment of cases, dials and movement.

Collectability will become your resource and shepherd in understanding what is known about each Patek Philippe. And then we’ll dig deeper to understand what is not in the archives to fill in the historical record of each and every Patek Philippe you have or are considering buying in the future.


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