Patek Philippe Luxury Swiss Watches Full Guide-Review
Patek Philippe is probably the best known high-end luxury Swiss watchmaker still operating today. The name has become a synonym for elite time keeping – owing its fame as much to the manufacture and actual quality as to the well thought-out marketing campaigns, which focus on tradition, longevity, and exceptional resale value.
A prestigious member of the exclusive club of high-end Swiss watchmakers, Patek Philippe was established in 1839, to be purchased a century later by Stern family, which still owns the company in 2012.
There is no quick way to describe Patek Philippe: the scope of tradition and preservation, the technological innovations in micro-engineering, and the company's place in the history of horology don't lend themselves to a brief summary.
Though marketed as a highly traditional brand, Patek Philippe's enduring power ensues from reliance on the latest, modern technological developments.
Research and development department secures continuous value; conversely, the price you pay for a Patek Philippe watch will guarantee future movement and design improvement. It's a benign circle that nourishes itself, and lends the watches a positive lasting aura.
The company owns no less than 70 patents, being the first to manufacture such complications as the perpetual calendar and split-seconds chronograph. Needless to say, Patek Philippe timepieces are made in-house in their entirety. The company also broke (and still holds) several records, one being creating “the most complicated watch ever made.”
Patek Philippe expound their philosophy in a set of 10 clearly formulated principles. While most of them don't differ from the credo of other high-end Swiss watchmakers, there are several points that only Patek Philippe can indeed claim as uniquely their own.
These themes are also the “heart” of the company's philosophy, forming its humanist core: rarity, value, heritage, and emotions.
Patek Philippe have a surprisingly uncomplicated website. It's nimble and light, both in weight and color, using a translucent, lacy white, blue and grey color scheme, with calm white dominating the webpage. The visuals project a sense of honor and self-respect; a quiet awareness of one's worth.
Similar to Audemars Piguet, Patek Philippe present all of their calibers to the public, dedicating an entire section of the website to the movements.
Other pages include a focus on history, the workshops, a timeline that combines the two into an engaging interactive lesson, a library of catalogs, and a movies page (several video clips available).
Besides the full overview of collections currently in production, the website also provides vital information on communication channels, retails network and watch maintenance. Browsing the Patek Philippe website can be both a fun and an educational experience – if you allow the tradition and values to seep into you.
Patek Philippe maintain several well established collections, most made for both men and women: Calatrava, Golden Ellipse, Gondolo, Aquanat, Nautilus, Twenty~4, and complicated watches (complication, grand complication, and exceptional models). Let's take a closer look at these collections:
- Calatrava, Patek Philippe's signature model, offers watches designed with classical elegance in mind. This collection derives its name from a historical location in Spain – and it infuses each watch with historical, even eternal value. Uncompromising clarity of design results in timepieces distinguished by minimal embellishments and principled simplicity. Calatrava is the counterpart of Vacheron Constantin Patrimony, Blancpain Villeret and Audemars Piguet Jules Audemars. Unlike these collections, however, Calatrava uses various types of hour&minute hands, and occasionally employs color.
- Golden Ellipse marks Patek Philippe's transition to rectangular shaped cases (most company's collections display some rectangular elements). A Golden Ellipse watch is not exactly an ellipse, but neither it is a circle or a rectangle. Rather, it's a form that seems to be in the process of morphing. The outward design is accentuated by the striking simplicity of the dials: adorned with deep color, they display universal simplicity rarely found in high-end watches. It's a classic design with some hints at the avant-guard.
- Gondolo is Patek Philippe's most free-spirited collection. Inspired by Art Deco, it includes several shapes (tonneau, rectangle and trapezium), and uses both Arabic and Roman numerals. Gondolo leaves a stable impression of experimentation and risk-taking – a particularly alluring quality when displayed by such traditionalist watchmaker as Patek Philippe
- Aquanaut directly quotes Audemar Piguet Royal Oak by featuring an octagonal bezel. Aquanat's octagon, however, is less pronounced; it's not as edgy and is more rounded. In other words, it was assimilated to fit Patek Philippe spirit and philosophy. The collection offers powerful dress-sports designs, with candle-shaped hands and unusually wide bezel surface. The functionally designed dial and the overall appearance project a focused function, one enveloped in style.
- Nautilus is Patek Philippe's sports diver collection: the watches are immediately recognized by the unorthodox porthole-shaped bezel and purposeful linear guilloche. The collection treads somewhere on the border between casual and sports, though some models exhibit notable dressy traits. The hands once again echo Audemars Piguet Royal Oak (which was actually launched a few years after Nautilus, so the case may be reverse here) hands design, and includes several complication.
- Patek Philippe complications and grand complications constitute an entire department that concentrates exclusively on horological innovation and refinement. The company presents an alternative approach to complications: instead of distributing most of them between existing collections, it defines a dedicated space, this department, – where anything can happen, and watches don't follow conventional rules.There are no particular restrictions when it comes to design or visual appearance: each complication or grand complication watch is considered separately, and given its own unique design. Complications include: (split-seconds) chronograph, world time, annual calendar, perpetual calendar, power-reserve indicator, moon phases, minute repeater, tourbillon, retrograde date, and more. These watches are the crown of Patek Philippe's achievements.
- Twenty~4 is a full-fledged feminine line of jewelry watches. Featuring rectangular cases, quartz movement, and many, many diamonds, these timepieces demonstrate ambition in both fashion and jewelry design. The range of watches in Twenty~4 is truly impressive – it is the master collection for women – veering from classic and elegant to more expansive and outspokenly luxurious. While making elaborate use of precious metals and stones, Twenty~4 remains visually restrained, upholding key Patek Philippe Principles.