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How To Buy a Patek Philippe

How To Buy a Patek Philippe

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Buying Your First Patek Philippe

Buying a Patek Philippe is not just a purchase; it's an investment in horological artistry, precision, and timeless style. Founded in 1839, Patek Philippe has become the epitome of Swiss watchmaking excellence. Known for its exquisite craftsmanship, attention to detail, and a wide range of classic and complicated timepieces, owning a Patek is often considered the pinnacle of a watch collector’s journey. For novices, the Calatrava line offers an entry point into this illustrious brand. Meanwhile, seasoned collectors often yearn for the Nautilus 5711, a model that fetches well over $100,000, owing to its sky-high demand and limited availability.

Patek Philippe Nautilus

Whether you plan on buying new or pre-owned, the journey to acquiring a Patek Philippe watch is a unique experience requiring thoughtful decision-making and comprehensive research. If you're aiming to buy new, prepare to navigate through authorized dealers or Patek's exclusive salons. Those leaning toward pre-owned pieces should be prepared to authenticate and negotiate, ensuring they're investing in an original masterpiece. Trusted dealers like WatchGuys can be invaluable resources in either journey.

Table of Contents

  • Patek Philippe History
  • Buying a Patek Philippe New or Pre-Owned?
    • Buying a New Patek Philippe from the AD or Salons
    • How to Buy a Pre-Owned Patek Philippe
  • Patek Philippe Collection
    • Best Starter Patek Philippe Watches
    • Most Popular Patek Philippe Watches
  • Why are Patek Philippe Watches So Expensive?

Patek Philippe History

patek philippe nautlius blue dial

Patek Philippe has a rich history dating back to its inception in Geneva, Switzerland, in 1839. The company has remained family-owned, allowing it to maintain an unparalleled level of quality and craftsmanship. Patek Philippe has contributed significantly to watchmaking advancements, including the perpetual calendar, split-seconds hand, and the minute repeater. Such innovations have solidified Patek’s position as a pioneer in the watchmaking world.

Buying a Patek Philippe New or Pre-Owned?

Understanding whether you want to buy a new or pre-owned Patek Philippe is critical. Each route has its advantages and challenges, requiring different considerations from potential buyers.

Buying a New Patek Philippe from the AD or Salons

Patek Philippe operates only three exclusive salons worldwide—in Geneva, London, and Paris. Outside of these salons, you can purchase a new Patek Philippe watch only from one of the 78 authorized dealers (ADs) in the United States. These dealers, although not directly operated by Patek Philippe, are rigorously screened to ensure they uphold the brand’s high standards.

The buying process is an art in itself. Utilize the Patek Philippe store locator to find your nearest authorized dealer. Once there, it's essential to:

  • Be honest and upfront with the sales agent about your requirements and budget.
  • Consider building a spending history with the dealer for future priority in waiting lists.
  • Build a rapport with the sales staff, who can offer invaluable advice and updates.
  • Prove that you are a genuine collector and not a watch dealer, which can influence your access to rare pieces.

How to Buy a Pre-Owned Patek Philippe

For those interested in pre-owned models, the avenues are more varied but require due diligence. Trusted dealers like WatchGuys.com highly recommended for their reliable inventory of authenticated Patek Philippe watches. Alternatives include platforms like eBay and Chrono24, although caution is advised when using these less-regulated markets.

Authenticity is the cornerstone of buying pre-owned. Ensure that the watch comes with its original papers and certificates. A reputable dealer should also offer a condition report and, preferably, an in-house expert to answer your queries. If you are purchasing a Patek Philippe without its box or papers, you will likely be offered the watch at a lower price, however it will be important to do your due dilligence on the dealer. A dealer with a strong reputation in the industry is likely to have undertaken their own due diligence, ensuring the watch's authenticity before offering it for sale. Trusted dealers often have their own in-house experts who can authenticate the timepiece, provide a detailed condition report, and answer any questions you may have.

Shop Patek Philippe Watches

Patek Philippe Collection

The Patek Philippe collection offers a fascinating array of choices, spanning from the opulent and complex to the elegantly simple. With each category, Patek Philippe excels at incorporating history, technical prowess, and luxurious details.


Patek Philippe Nautilus 3800/1J Blue

Originally designed by Gérald Genta and introduced in 1976, the Nautilus collection marked Patek Philippe's grand entry into the world of luxury sports watches. Its distinctive porthole-shaped case and horizontally embossed dial have made it an iconic choice for those seeking a blend of sportiness and elegance.


Patek Philippe Aquanaut Travel Time 5164A-001

Launched in 1997, the Aquanaut provided an approachable alternative to the Nautilus. Despite its initial role as a more affordable option, these watches have become extremely sought-after, particularly the models made of stainless steel. The collection is known for its “Tropical” rubber strap and more modern, youthful aesthetic.


Dating back to the late 1920s, the Calatrava is synonymous with classical Swiss watchmaking. Drawing inspiration from the Bauhaus art movement, this collection predominantly features time-only watches that encapsulate simplicity and grace. Some models are adorned with diamonds, providing a luxurious twist to the minimalist design.


Patek Philippe World Time Chronograph Flyback 5935A-001

As the name suggests, watches in this category usually feature two or three complications—special functions beyond the basic display of hours, minutes, and seconds. From moon phases to dual time zones, these watches offer an elegant interface for a range of handy features.

Grand Complications

Patek Philippe Grand Complications 5303R-001 Minute Repeater

The epitome of horological complexity, the Grand Complications category consists of timepieces that incorporate at least three complications, not including date functions. These watches are marvels of mechanical engineering and can include everything from minute repeaters to perpetual calendars and split-second chronographs.

Golden Ellipse

Unveiled in 1968, the Golden Ellipse collection is known for its unique oblong shape and ultra-thin cases. These time-only watches are timeless, exuding an air of refined elegance. The collection recently saw a reissue in a larger size, meeting the modern demand for bigger wristwatches.


Named after the Brazilian retailer Gondolo & Labouriau, for whom Patek Philippe created these watches in the early 20th century, the modern Gondolo collection features an array of shaped watches. The current lineup predominantly includes squarish or cushion-shaped cases, many of which are beautifully decorated with jewels and targeted towards women.


Aimed at women and characterized by its size—36mm and smaller—the Twenty~4 collection comes in both round and square shapes, featuring either mechanical or quartz movements. These watches are perfect for formal events and offer a range of styles from simple to bejeweled.

In summary, whether you're a first-time buyer or a seasoned collector, Patek Philippe offers something for everyone. Each collection has its own distinct character, history, and set of functionalities, providing a unique blend of artistry and engineering.

Best Starter Patek Philippe Watches

Aquanaut 5167A

  • Retail Price: $24,250
  • Expected Price: $60,000 - $68,000
  • Case Size: 40mm
  • Dial: Black embossed
  • Bracelet: “Tropical” composite strap
  • Movement: Self-winding caliber 324 S C

A sporty offering from Patek Philippe, the Aquanaut 5167A has a striking yet casual appearance with its rubber strap and is a perfect entry point for younger collectors.

Nautilus 7118/1A

  • Retail Price: $57,960
    Expected Price
    : $60,000 - $69,000
  • Case Size: 35.2mm
  • Dial: Blue opaline
  • Bracelet: Stainless steel
  • Movement: Caliber 324 S C

Designed for women, the 7118/1A captures the essence of the Nautilus line in a smaller case size while maintaining the collection's signature aesthetic.

Calatrava 6119G

  • Retail Price: $31,940
    Expected Price
    : $30,000 - $40,000
  • Case Size: 39mm
  • Dial: Silver “Clous de Paris” or charcoal gray
  • Bracelet: Alligator strap
  • Movement: Manually wound Caliber 30-255 PS

The quintessential Patek Philippe watch, the Calatrava 6119G is minimalist, elegant, and timeless—a perfect entry-level choice for any serious collector.

Gondolo 7041R

  • Retail Price: $36,080
  • Expected Price: $24,000 - $32,000
  • Case Size: 30 x 39.4mm
  • Dial: Brown guilloched, gold applied numerals
  • Bracelet: Alligator strap
  • Movement: Caliber 215

The Gondolo 7041R brings a touch of vintage, with its unique, rectangular case and art deco numerals. It's a unique piece that still maintains Patek's signature sophistication.

Golden Ellipse 5738R

  • Retail Price: $36,670
  • Expected Price: $29,000 - $35,000
  • Case Size: 31.1 x 35.6mm
  • Dial: Black sunburst
  • Bracelet: Alligator strap
  • Movement: Caliber 240

With its distinct oval shape, the Golden Ellipse offers a different, more artistic take on the luxury watch.

Complications 5212A

  • Retail Price: $38,440
  • Expected Price: $40,000 - $60,000
  • Case Size: 40mm
  • Dial: Silvery opaline
  • Bracelet: Calfskin strap
  • Movement: Caliber 26-330 S C J SE

This timepiece not only displays the date but also the week number, a rarity in wristwatches, making it a fascinating entry point into the Complications series.

Most Popular Patek Philippe Watches

Nautilus 5711/1A

Patek Philippe 5711/1A Blue

  • Expected Price: $115,000
  • Case Size: 40mm
  • Dial: Blue or white
  • Bracelet: Stainless steel
  • Movement: Caliber 26-330 S C

This model has become the face of luxury sports watches since its introduction in 1976. It's known for its rounded octagonal bezel and horizontally embossed dial.

Aquanaut 5167/1A-001

Aquanaut 5167/1A-001
  • Expected Price: Around $50,000
  • Case Size: 40mm
  • Dial: Black embossed
  • Bracelet: Stainless steel or “Tropical” composite strap
  • Movement: Caliber 324 S C

The Aquanaut offers a more contemporary look and is popular among younger collectors. The "Tropical" strap is made of a new composite material that is ultra-resistant to wear, saltwater, and UV radiation.

Patek Philippe Nautilus 5811/1G

  • Expected Price: $160,000+
  • Case Size: 40mm
  • Dial: Various options, including diamond-encrusted
  • Bracelet: White gold
  • Movement: Caliber 26‑330 S C

This model takes luxury up a notch with its white gold bracelet and optional diamond-encrusted dial.

Patek Philippe Nautilus Travel Time 5990/1A-001

  • Expected Price: Around $120,000+
  • Case Size: 40.5mm
  • Dial: Black gradient
  • Bracelet: Stainless steel
  • Movement: Caliber CH 28-520 C FUS

Designed for the globetrotter, this Nautilus features dual time zones.

Calatatrava Pilot Travel Time 5524G-001

  • Expected Price: $50,000 - $60,000
  • Case Size: 42mm
  • Dial: Blue lacquered
  • Bracelet: Calfskin strap
  • Movement: Caliber 324 S C FUS

Aviation-inspired, the watch boasts dual time zones and a date indicator, combining functionality with the classic Calatrava design.

Grand Complications 5270G-001

  • Expected Price: $130,000 - $200,000
  • Case Size: 41mm
  • Dial: Silver opaline
  • Bracelet: Alligator strap
  • Movement: Caliber CH 29-535 PS Q

This timepiece is a masterpiece, featuring a perpetual calendar, moon phases, and a chronograph, among other complications.

Grand Complications Split Seconds Chronograph 5370P-001

  • Expected Price: $245,000 - $280,000
  • Case Size: 41mm
  • Dial: Black enamel
  • Bracelet: Alligator strap
  • Movement: Caliber CHR 29-535 PS Q

Known for its split-seconds chronograph, this watch is technically exquisite and highly coveted by collectors.

Complications Annual Calendar Chronograph 5960

  • Expected Price: $60,000 - $70,000
  • Case Size: 40.5mm
  • Dial: Silver or black
  • Bracelet: Alligator strap or metal bracelet
  • Movement: Caliber CH 28-520 IRM QA 24H

This model has an annual calendar and chronograph, offering a beautiful blend of functionality and design.

Calatrava 5119 or 6119

  • Expected Price: $16,000 - $35,000
  • Case Size: 36mm (5119), 39mm (6119)
  • Dial: White lacquered or charcoal gray
  • Bracelet: Alligator strap
  • Movement: Caliber 215 PS (5119), Caliber 30-255 PS (6119)

Both watches are the epitome of elegance and simplicity, making them universally appealing to collectors who appreciate understated beauty.

For those seeking to acquire these popular models, especially the hard-to-find ones, it's essential to consult trusted resources or specialists, such as WatchGuys, to ensure you're getting an authentic piece.

Why Are Patek Philippe Watches So Expensive?

Patek Philippe watches are highly sought-after pieces of luxury, not just because of their aesthetic appeal, but also for their exceptional craftsmanship and quality. Created by master artisans, each watch is a product of meticulous labor, incorporating premium materials like gold, platinum, and rare gemstones. These factors alone contribute to the brand's high price point, but when you add in Patek Philippe's rich heritage dating back to 1839 and the limited numbers in which these watches are produced, you have a recipe for exclusivity and high cost.

But the expense doesn't end at the point of purchase. These timepieces are known to retain, or even appreciate in value, making them more of an investment than a mere accessory. Amplifying their allure, they've become the go-to wristwear for celebrities and collectors alike, often fetching astronomical sums at auction. Between their intrinsic quality, scarcity, investment value, and cultural cachet, Patek Philippe watches offer a unique blend of functional sophistication and luxury, making their high price tag understandable to many.

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