Ever wonder about the most expensive and iconic watch in the world? Or have you ever heard of the Big Three among luxury watches? Here comes the top of them all – Patek Philippe. A single timepiece of this extravagant brand is planned, designed, and produced within years. The waiting list is so long that you need to be patient to own one. That’s just how rare they are. Amazingly unique, right?
It can draw everyone’s attention to how it has reached its place right now, as the first among the rest of the most expensive watches. The feel of it in your wrist will give an idea of how it was able to conquer its throne. In addition to this, the name itself exudes prestige. Find out how it had all begun through its very first model, the Patek Philippe Nautilus.
Who are the founders of Patek Philippe watches?
Antoine Norbert de Patek and Jean Adrien Philippe, a French watchmaker, were the founders of Patek Philippe watches. They started their business together in 1844. Before that, Patek had already opened the watchmaking business with Francois Czapek and Thomas Moreau in 1839. They named it Patek, Czapek & Cie – Fabricants à Genève.
What is the story behind this famous watch?
Swiss watchmakers in the 1970s were having difficulty competing in the quartz watch market. Gerald Genta brought the luxury steel sports watch category to life in 1972 with the creation of the Royal Oak Jumbo. Following its tremendous success, Genta designed the Nautilus 3700/1 a few years later and released it in 1976.
The design is meant to resemble the sea. Its inspiration for the watch came from an ocean liner’s porthole, with the case sides matching the window’s door hinges. In Jules Verne’s novel, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, the ship’s name was Nautilus, and Captain Nemo captained it. It commemorated its 45th anniversary this year and had proven exquisite designs as it featured watch series with precious metals, gemstones, and complications.
Why is Patek Philippe Nautilus expensive?
Patek Philippe is the top one over the number of luxurious watches globally, and its history is not just the sole reason for its price. It also includes the prestige of its high-quality craftsmanship. So what are the other factors that add value to this brand?
The prominence of the brand
Since 1839, the Swiss watchmaker has been continuously making timepieces. For over 180 years, the company has been one of the few remaining independent, family-owned producers. The Stern family has handled Patek Philippe since 1932, and as a result, is dedicated to advancing and maintaining the high standards of the timepieces created.
Patek Philippe exhibits exceptional quality throughout its long history of manufacturing. As a result, the firm has mastered strategic alliance inside their production process. Its timepieces require an incredible amount of human effort to build each watch. They are planned and made over two or three years. If it is a sophisticated model, it will take at least two years to design and produce, if not more.
Patek Philippe makes and hand-finishes every single component for every single watch. All the individual parts are critical as around 1,000 people will have had a hand in each timepiece’s creation. That is even before it leaves Switzerland! From the research and development down to its production, everything is in-house.
Complexity spans everything from the most basic designs to the most intricate and marvelous creations. The fact that Patek Philippe is constantly innovating is well recognized. Throughout its history, they have obtained over 100 patents and made substantial contributions to watchmaking, especially with the construction of the first annual calendar.
Patek Philippe’s collection contains 140 distinct models, and annual manufacturing is expected to be under 70,000 total watches. The brand has never publicly disclosed this information. According to Mr. Stern, Nautilus 5711 alone will account for 10% of the total demand in 2019.
Each watch is thoroughly tested and checked for quality before it gets the Patek Philippe seal of approval. Each work from start to end takes many hours, thus, producing less than the demand. In addition, its rare availability makes it exclusive to each owner of the Patek Philippe watch.
What are the secrets of its success?
- Reference 3700
It is the first Nautilus model that used Caliber 28-255C alongside Caliber 920 by Jaeger-LeCoultre. Audemars Piguet’s Royal Oak used this too, as Gerald Genta also designed this model. During the mid-to-late 1970s, this movement was regarded as one of the most technologically advanced ultra-thin automatic calibers.
- Steel alloy similar to World War 2’s tank
The first Nautilus model was equipped with an integrated steel bracelet and a nickel-chrom-molybdenum steel alloy that was highly resistant to extreme temperature and pressure. As a result, it’s not just durable but also lighter than regular steel.
- Continuous iterations
The 5711/1A was an instant success with its price of $17,000 during its first release in 2006. In addition, it honored the 30th anniversary of the Nautilus. This new model had a case size of 1mm larger than the original model and included a three-part casing. Also included in the updated edition was a sapphire-embedded display showing the in-house caliber 324C.
Today, the 5711/1A is recognized as one of the most desired modern steel watches. Moreover, it demonstrates that the line of this 40-year-old watch can still grab the attention of collectors. But, unfortunately, with the latest interview of Mr. Stern, he said that 5711 would stop its production but promised a better one.
The years of existence of Patek Philippe Nautilus gave way to its success. We can say that it is undeniably remarkable from the beginning up to this date. Indeed, It won’t earn its prominent position if it hadn’t proved its worth. The long wait may take years for you to own this watch, especially if you’re aiming for a rare collection. The good news is the available ones online are ready for you to have.
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