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How To Tell If Your Patek Philippe Watch Is Valuable

Debbie Porter

At Potteries Auctions we sell a lot of wristwatches but have only had one Patek Phillipe through our doors and out at auction, proving why they fetch so much at auction due to how rare they are!  

The Stainless Steel Patek Philippe 1518 that reached a record price for any wristwatch sold at auction in 2016 raised this much at the event due to it being one of only four known to exist.  The bidding started at $3million due to its rarity and demand for it drove it to reach $11million before the hammer went down.

This event alone has driven greater awareness of Patek Philippe wristwatches with many people eyeing their own with renewed interest.  But how do you know if your Patek Philippe has a good chance of fetching a big price at auction?

The Ladies Patek Philippe Twenty-4 wristwatch and bracelet pictured above was set at an auction estimate of £400-800.   This beautiful watch was in great condition as can be seen here and is a design that was first launched by the brand in 1999.  It has a stainless steel case and is set with 36 diamonds to the bezel with an Eternal Grey dial.  It was also presented to us in its original box complete with display case, a certificate of origin and the associated paperwork.

Both we and the vendor were delighted therefore when this watch finally reached a hammer price of £3,300 at auction in July 2018, far exceeding all our expectations on auction day.

Patek Philipe watches have a reputation for being ‘haute horology’ and are generally considered to be the top brand among all the Swiss watch manufacturers.  The very best of craftsmanship goes into every piece, which, coupled with high-end build quality, showcases this brand’s expertise in watchmaking.  The Patek Philippe Calibre 89 was created in 1989 for the company’s 150th anniversary and was lauded at that time to be the ‘most complicated watch in the world’ and is a testament to the technical skills of the watchmakers at the company.

Patek Philippe produces roughly 50,000 watches a year with a workforce of over 2,000 people bringing exclusivity to the brand and desire amongst buyers for anything it produces.  They are so sought after that they have been commissioned by millionaires, billionaires, the rich, the famous and royalty.  Notably, Queen Victoria chose a powder blue pocket watch decorated with diamonds at the Great Exhibition held at Crystal Palace in 1851.  The Queen of Denmark commissioned the company to create a 25th wedding anniversary watch for her husband King Christian IX, including diamonds and an enamel painting of the queen in the design.  High level endorsement indeed!

The wristwatches that appear at auctions today were initially produced from the 1870s onwards, following the creation of the very first Swiss wristwatch as a commission for the Countess Koscowicz of Hungary in 1868.  Though it wasn’t until the 1930s that the company perfected the scaled-down movements needed in wristwatches to such an extent that they were able to effectively end consumer preference for pocket watches.  One of the first more ‘modern’ styled wristwatches that could be considered similar to the style of Patek Philippe watches on sale today came with the launch of the Calatrava Ref 96 in 1932, with a much pared down visual design to the watches they were famed for to that point.

Anyone choosing to buy a Patek Philippe will find that the watch they choose very rarely loses value and often increases in value over time, making it a worthwhile investment.  So although individual designs vary in valuation, you can be sure to fetch a great price at auction if you have one of these in your possession.

If you own a Patek Philippe and are thinking of selling at auction, then get in touch with us to discuss and our experts can value your piece to give you an accurate estimate of the price range you might attract at auction.  Our team are able to give you an accurate auction estimate on this brand and other luxury modern watch brands

Selling at Auction

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