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Patek Philippe History

1839
Patek, Czapek et Cie is founded by Antoine Norbert de Patek and Francois Czapek. In the same year, the company creates its first pocket watches.

1844
Antoine Norbert de Patek visits Paris, where the Exposition Nationale des Produits de l’Industrie is held. A watchmaker named Jean Adrien Philippe is also in attendance. Philippe receives a bronze medal for his invention of a keyless system to wind and set a watch.

1845
Patek, Czapek et Cie is liquidated. Jean Adrien Philippe moves to Geneva. He signs a contract with Antoine Norbert de Patek, and the brand Patek et Cie is created.

In the same year, Patek et Cie premieres its first watch: no. 1181, which features Philippe’s keyless winding and setting function.

1851
Patek displays its smallest pocket watch calibre at the London Great Exhibition. Queen Victoria and Prince Albert both acquire Patek watches—Prince Albert’s is a chronometer with a quarter-hour repeater.

In this year, the company changes its name to Patek, Philippe et Cie. Antoine Norbert de Patek journeys to New York, where he establishes a partnership with Tiffany & Co. The partnership will last to the present day.

1853
Patek Philippe attends the World’s Fair in New York City.

1854-1858
Antoine Norbert de Patek travels from Europe to the UK, North America, and back to Northern Europe, creating a worldwide reputation for the luxury watches made by his brand. Even in the US, which is experiencing an economic downturn, Patek Philippe’s watches are so well received that the brand enjoys notable fame.

During this time, Patek Philippe is also given a gold medal at the Parisian Exposition Universelle.

1863
Patek Philippe’s first tourbillon-regulated pocket watch is unveiled.

In the same year, Jean Adrien Philippe reveals a new horological invention – the slipping spring. Not being connected to the barrel, the slipping spring can be overwound without breaking. The invention will go on to influence the design of power reserves and self winding calibres across the industry.

1867
Patek Philippe receives another gold medal at the Exposition Universelle.

1868
Patek Philippe creates the world’s first Swiss luxury wristwatch.

1873
The brand is awarded top honours at Austria’s Weltausstellung. Over the next three years, Patek Philippe will also scoop gold medals at the Exposition Internacional de Chile, and Philadelphia’s International Exhibition of Arts, Manufactures and Products of the Soil.

1876
The Patek, Philippe et Cie name is changed to Patek Philippe et Cie.

1877
Antoine Norbert de Patek dies, aged 65.

1880
Patek Philippe is awarded first prize at the Geneva Observatory Awards.

1884
Patek Philippe collects a ‘series prize’ for creating the top five pocket chronometers in the year’s Geneva Observatory Awards. This feat will be repeated in 1885.

1885
Emile Joseph Philippe, son of Jean Adrien, begins a traineeship with his father’s company. In the same year, Patek Philippe receives a gold medal from the International Inventions Exhibition in South Kensington.

1889
The brand receives a patent for a perpetual calendar function for pocket watches. In the same year, Patek Philippe is also awarded a patent for a movement with independent seconds, in which paired mainspring barrels are simultaneously wound using the keyless system.

1894
Jean Adrien Philippe dies, aged 79.

1895
Patek Philippe’s chronometers achieve the highest cumulative point score ever gained at the timekeeping trials of the Societe des Arts in Geneva.

Between 1895 and 1897, Patek Philippe will demonstrate its mastery of the ‘supercomplication’ pocket watch—a style of timepiece featuring high numbers of difficult and delicate horological functions. Eventually, the brand will go on to create the most famous supercomplication watch in history, which is also destined to become the most expensive luxury watch sold at auction.

1900-1951
Patek Philippe wins 325 first prizes at the Geneva Observatory Awards.

1902
The brand is given a Swiss patent for its inaugural double chronograph model.

1904
Patek Philippe’s first ultra-thin watch movement is patented.

1907
Patek Philippe gains first prize at the first ever Kew-Teddington Observatory trials.

1916
Patek Philippe premieres its first ever complicated ladies wristwatch, which features a five-minute repeater.

1923
The brand’s first split-seconds wrist chronograph is born.

1924
Patek Philippe’s first minute-repeating wristwatch is unveiled.

1925
Patek Philippe unveils its first perpetual calendar wristwatch. This achievement will form the basis of the Patek Philippe Perpetual Calendar Chronograph, one of the most important luxury watches ever made.

During the period between 1925 and 1933, Patek Philippe designs and completes the Henry Graves Supercomplication. This legendary watch will become the high water mark for all complicated timepieces, with 900 separate parts and 24 complications.

1932
Patek Philippe unveils the first Calatrava model. The understated style of the piece will make it a Patek Philippe staple.

1940
The brand unveils its World Time chronograph 1415-1 HU. This timepiece will become one of the most prized creations in the history of luxury watches.

1941
Patek Philippe unveils reference 1518, the Perpetual Calendar Chronograph. Reference 1518 is the first serially-produced perpetual calendar with chronograph in the history of luxury watchmaking. No other luxury watch brand will attempt a serial perpetual calendar with chronograph for half a century. Patek Philippe ref 1518 thus becomes one of the most important wristwatches ever made.

1951
In the early 1950s (between 1951 and 1954, sources vary), Patek Philippe replaces reference 1518 with reference 2499. This new perpetual calendar with chronograph will become an all-time grail watch for serious collectors.

1953
Patek Philippe is awarded a patent for its first self-winding mechanism.

1959-1962
Patek Philippe’s time zone mechanisms are granted Swiss patents.

1968
The brand launches the Golden Ellipse.

1976
The legendary Nautilus is born. Gerald Genta, king of luxury watch designers (Genta is also responsible for the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak, the Bvlgari-Bvlgari, and the IWC Ingenieur). Genta designs the Nautilus on a piece of paper in the dining hall at the Basel Trade Fair. The design is completed in five minutes, and will go on to become one of the most revered luxury sports watches in history.

1981
Patek Philippe premieres its first skeletonised wristwatch.

1985
Two platinum Patek Philippe Perpetual Calendar Chronographs (ref 2499/100) are made on the commission of Henri Stern. One will remain in the Stern family museum in Geneva. The other is sold at auction. It will eventually end up in the collection of Eric Clapton.

1986
Patek Philippe unveils the successor to ref 2499/100: the Perpetual Calendar Chronograph reference 3970.

1989
The brand celebrates its 150th birthday with the launch of the Calibre 89, a limited edition supercomplication watch whose complexity will remain unrivalled to the present day.

1990s
Patek Philippe replaces reference 3970 with reference 5020: a perpetual calendar chrono in a ‘television’-shaped case. The watch is poorly received by Patek fans and is quietly phased out. It will, however, see a collector’s market develop, and in time will auction for several hundred thousand dollars.

1993
The Patek Philippe Gondolo collection is unveiled.

1996
Reference 5004, a perpetual calendar with rattrapante (split seconds) chronograph, is released. only 12 models will be made per year, making the 5004 a scarce and valuable luxury watch.

1997
The first Patek Philippe Aquanaut is released.

2000
Patek Philippe’s Star Calibre 2000 is launched to celebrate the year. The pocket watch incorporates six completely new horological inventions and holds 21 complications.

In the same year, the World Time wristwatch is born. This new incarnation of the time zone movement allows the wearer to correct every display element with one press of a button, without compromising the accuracy of the calibre.

2001
The Sky Moon Tourbillon—Patek Philippe’s first double-faced wristwatch—is created.

2004
Reference 5970, the latest in Patek Philippe’s long and respected line of perpetual calendar chronographs, is released. With a production run of just seven years, the 5970 will quickly become a prime collector’s target at auction.

2005
Patek Philippe founds its New Technology department, which creates its first watch: the Advanced Research Annual Calendar. The watch includes Patek Philippe’s first ever silicon escape wheel.

2006
The Nautilus celebrates its 30th birthday.

2009
The Patek Philippe Seal is launched: a mark guaranteeing the quality of the entire Patek Philippe luxury watch experience, from finished item to after-sales services.

In the same year, the brand becomes Patek Philippe SA Geneve. Its first in-house movement under the new brand name is CH 29-535 PS, a hand-wound chronograph, which is the first ever created exclusively by Patek Philippe craftspeople.

2011
The first Patek Philippe triple complication wristwatch is unveiled. In the same year, reference 5270 (a perpetual calendar with chronograph) is released.

2012
Reference 5204, an in-house perpetual calendar with split-seconds chrono, is unveiled.

In November, 2012, Eric Clapton’s platinum Patek Philippe 2499/100 is sold at auction. It reaches well over three million dollars.

2013
At the Only Watch charity auction, a Patek Philippe 5004T sells for just under four million dollars.

2014
The Grandmaster Chime becomes Patek Philippe’s most complicated and ornate wristwatch. This double-faced timepiece is designed to be worn with either side facing up: one focuses on time-telling complications, and the other on the perpetual calendar complications.

Here you can view our newest pre-owned Patek Philippe luxury watches as well as the latest additons to our unworn luxury watch collection.

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