…there is NO need to show it off.
Truer words have never been spoken when it comes to the case of Patek Philippe. Patek Philippe is widely regarded to be the best watchmaker in the world, and I’m not talking about one of the best, I am talking about THE best watchmaker in the world.
For me, It’s not hard to see why:
When it comes to complications, no company is up to the challenge as much as Patek Philippe, and for those who don’t know what a complication is, it is basically considered to be a timekeeping function outside of a just keeping the time and date. For example: for a watch to account and adjust for various days in certain months AND to keep track of the leap year (a.k.a. perpetual calendar) is considered a complication.
And it’s not just the number of complications Patek Philippe tries, it is the complicated-ness of the complication that just makes them absolutely stellar. Whereas Rolex may make some silly 10 minute spaghetti timer and consider it a complication, Patek Philippe will chart the skies of Geneva so that on any given day you can see what the stars look like over Switzerland.
Here is one such example in the Patek Philippe Ref. 5102J:
“So what?” Mr. Joe Oneball from down the street may ask. “My Casio G-Shock can do all those things and more, what’s the big deal?”
While I will discuss the vast differences between mechanical watches and quartz/digital watches later, I will just say that while those different types of watches can essentially perform the same functions, they go about carrying those functions in COMPLETELY different ways, and that’s what makes the difference. So hang on Mr. Uniball, your answer is coming.
Another thing I hugely respect out of Patek Philippe is their almost obnoxiously modest styling.
To use an example from the car world I will use the Audi RS4. Now for those who aren’t that familiar with it, the Audi RS4 is basically a masterpiece high-performance version of the Audi A4 4-door sedan. But unlike similar cars in its price range it doesn’t really advertise its huge price tag. It has more tailpipes than the standard car and subtle “RS4″ badges imprinted on it, but that’s only because it needs it. I guarantee you that everything on an Audi RS4 has a purpose and there is nothing there that doesn’t absolutely need to be there, but here’s a question, would you want to buy one?
Audi A4 (starting at: $28,900)
Audi RS4 (starting at: $66,900)
I don’t know about you, but let’s say that I’m a middle-class American (which I am) who saves his hard-earned dollars in the hopes of one day buying a high-performance car. I may be well aware that the Audi RS4 is the driving equivalent of God on wheels, but where is the satisfaction of paying so much for a car if it looks almost exactly like every other cheap Audi on the road? I KNOW that it’s a quality vehicle and I KNOW I will absolutely adore it, but I just would not be able to get over that nagging fact that my 70 thousand dollar Audi looks like an Audi even my elderly mother would drive.
So what’s my point with all this car mumbo jumbo? It’s simply this, Patek Philippe is the Audi RS4 of the watch world. It may make watches that are as legendary and as brilliant as Pink Floyd, but if Patek Philippe were a band who performed on stage, all you would see are a bunch of acne-riddled teenagers in t-shirts and sneakers.
To offer another example, a tourbillon is a watch complication that is widely considered to be the ultimate watch complication. It is basically a rotating cage for the watch “engine,” and to watchmakers it is like trying to squeeze a battle tank in your kitchen If you were a watchmaker and could build a tourbillon, you were a member of the club.
So if I were a watchmaker who spent countless hours building a tourbillon, I would probably want to display it in a proud and noble fashion and would want all the world to see my accomplishment. I would actually display it a lot like in this Frank Muller Long Island:
But whereas Frank Muller is a relatively new watchmaker, Patek Philppe has been around for ages. They are so good that building a tourbillon that to them is no big deal, so when they build a tourbillon, they tend it to build it like THIS:
Patek Philippe are so obnoxious that they don’t even feel the need to show off, in this 10 Day Tourbillon model , what many other watchmakers consider to be the most difficult complication in all the watchmaking world. They are like the poker player that never shows his cards, and they are just so good they don’t ever feel the need to advertise, and what’s worst off is that Patek Philippe are well aware of it.
So there you have it, Patek Philippe is truly for a man who has everything. Tourbillon watches costs TENS of THOUSANDS of dollars, and if I saved my pennies for a tourbillon watch I certainly would want to show it off or at least have it displayed for all the world to see. I, however, am quite a long way away from owning a tourbillon watch so to focus more on my price range, if I spent big dollars on a watch, I certainly wouldn’t want it looking like this.
This is the Patek Philippe Golden Ellipse. Would you like to guess what this watch costs?
To the untrained eye it doesn’t really look all that spectacular. Its case is made of gold, but one can get a gold-cased watch for much less than this. It doesn’t have a date or even a seconds hand. Its dial is a somewhat sickly blue. I don’t know what Patek Philippe calls it, but I equate it to a blue found on the cuff links of old English huntsmen who still use muzzle loading rifles. I equate it to a blue that once was brilliant and bright but has since faded, I equate it to a blue only found on antique chamber pots, and I equate it to a blue that is found in certain types of moldy cheese. To put it simply, this blue is disgusting, and i don’t like it.
So I was somewhat astounded when I found out that this costs… and are you ready?
16 THOUSAND dollars!!!
Patek Philippe may have some modest styling, but its pricing is anything but. Their “entry level” models are obscenely overpriced. For their more complicated models I can I maybe understand the pricing, but to put things in perspective, you can buy a CAR for the money you pay for that sickly blue dullness; you can buy several big-screen plasma TV’s, you can even buy half of Mongolia for that money.
Believe me, you don’t want to know how much their more expensive models costs, but I will share with you that Patek Philippe are responsible for the one of the most complicated, most expensive, and most desierable wristwatches ever made.
Behold, the Patek Philippe Sky-Moon Tourbillon:
This too has a tourbillon, and just like the 10 Day Tourbillon, it is nowhere to be seen. It has a sky chart on the back side, it has the most complicated of all complications, and even if you could afford the $1.2 million price tag, you could not simply walk in a store and buy one. This is a great watch indeed, but I’m sad to say that even if you had the digits, the small production of only 1-2 a year means that the chances of you owning one are as small as the chances of you ever seeing one in person.
But there is hope, Patek Philippe are also responsible for this beautiful classic, and for the same $16 thousand you spend on the Golden Ellipse, you can have this:
This is the Patek Philippe Calatrava and in my opinion it is the very definition of a classic. It is mind-numbingly beautiful and in the humble opinion of this humble presenter, one of the iconic watches of our lifetime. The Peking Man walked around the plains of Eurasia with a Calatrava on its wrist, you can find fossilized Calatravas among bones of dead dinosaurs, and in some old art depictions of King Tut, a Calatrava can be found on his wrist.
This is a fantastic watch indeed! And if you have the digits, Patek Philippe is the way to go!