It’s no secret to anybody that luxury timepieces can get quite expensive. Ranging from $10 to $31,000,000, there lies quite a large differential in which watchmakers will be happy to create offerings for their clients that are unlike anything else in the world. So while the average person might have an impression that Rolex is the ultimate brand in terms of quality, price, and craftsmanship, that simply isn’t the case. Sure, their watches are incredible by all accounts, but any watch nerd knows some watchmakers eclipse brands like Rolex in just about every category, with one massive factor being the price.
Amongst these super high-end brands lies one of the most iconic watchmakers of all time, Patek Philippe. Born in 1839, Patek Philippe has worked hard to establish themselves as the golden standard of watchmaking and earn their place amongst the “Holy Trinity” of watchmaking alongside Audemars Piguet and Vacheron Constantin. With this hard-earned reputation, one thing is certain, Patek Philippe’s watches are expensive, so why are Patek Philippe watches so expensive, and why does Patek Philippe cost so much? Let’s explore below.
Heritage and Status
Perhaps one of the most superficial reasons why Patek Philippe watches are so expensive is the heritage they have developed over their centuries in existence and the status amongst watch collectors that they have earned over those centuries. Much like why Ferrari, Rolls Royce, and Maybach are expensive, Patek Philippe understands that their name on the dial means something, and customers will pay a premium in order to own a watch with their name on the dial. Of course, there are plenty of more legitimate reasons that we’ll explore below, but their brand is too powerful of a reason to ignore, and Patek Philippe knows that.
Innovation and Development
As one of the “Holy Trinity” watchmakers, Patek Philippe are famed for their level of engineering, and that doesn’t come cheap. With innovations such as the perpetual calendar, the world’s first split-second chronograph, and a whole host of innovations that we could bore you with, their drive for innovation comes with a price. With the time, effort, and money Patek Philippe must invest in developing and creating movements and complications that deserve to go inside their watches; it is no surprise that Patek Philippe watches are as expensive as they are.
Craftsmanship and Quality
Building upon their position as a “Holy Trinity” watchmaker, a certain level of craftsmanship and quality is expected of Patek Philippe’s watches. This requires incredibly skilled staff to spend a long time crafting the watches they create. Constructed, finished, and finetuned manually, Patek Philippe timepieces are labor-intensive and, as such, command hefty price tags due to the costs involved in hiring the best artisans in the world.
Exclusivity and Scale
One of the more boring reasons behind how expensive Patek Philippe watches are is the sheer exclusivity and lack of scale for them to make use of. With an annual production output of around 50,000 timepieces, Patek Philippe cannot use the same economies of scale that a brand like Rolex with nearly 1,000,000 yearly watches can use. This means their cost per unit for parts is higher, and they have to pass that cost onto their customers. Additionally, as their watches are more limited, they can charge a higher price than watchmakers who produce more watches. Low supply mixed with high demand means only one thing, a high price.
Perhaps the most obvious reason why a Patek Philippe timepiece costs so much is the materials they use to construct their timepieces. While they certainly produce stainless steel watches that are still expensive (if you can even buy one for retail), Patek Philippe watches are expensive as they often use precious metals and gems in their designs. Between the costs associated with purchasing precious metals, crafting them as needed and setting gems, and all of the other costs that are associated with this in their supply chain like security, logistics, storage, employing skilled jewelers, etc., Patek Philippe’s choice of materials means only one thing; their watches become very expensive very quickly.
Mixing their innovative engineering with their hyper luxurious materials, prestigious heritage, small production, and impeccable craftsmanship, it is no surprise why Patek Philippe watches are so expensive. Unparalleled in so many ways, Patek Philippe charges the prices they do and continues to set records in terms of revenue generated, soaring secondary market prices, and auction prices. Patek Philippe might be expensive, but their end product is worth every penny for those that can afford them, and Patek Philippe knows that.