It only stands to reason that we would call the models of Patek Philippe, the Patek Philippe Collections. After all, in the world of luxury watches, they top the list as not only one of the best, but one of the most expensive and luxurious.
Patek Philippe produces about 50,000 watches a year and out of those 35,000 are mechanical men’s watches. There are approximately 200 models within the Patek Philippe Collections, and we are going to organize the watches by the main collections, and then dive into some of the more obscure Patek Philippe collections.
Some Things to Know About Reference Numbers and Letters
For the Patek Philippe, the reference number of the watch often dictates how much you pay for the watch or receive on the sale of it. All the Patek Philippe reference numbers start with a 3, 4, 5, 6, or 7. Men’s watches have a 3, 5, or 6 as the first number and women’s watches begin with a 4 or 7.
The second digit usually refers to the Patek Philippe collection or model the watch is from.
The rest of the numbers relate to the attributes of the watch, which can be mixed and matched. Note that if a number has a dash with three additional numbers, those numbers relate to the type of dial on the watch. There are no strict rules here, but here are some reference numbers and features they may represent:
- 96: Patek Philippe Calatrava with a flat bezel
- 30: Patek Philippe World Time
- 500: Engraved case
- 1: Watch has a metal bracelet
- 600: Watch contains an enamel or lacquer case
- 400: Watch has a gem-set case
- 300: Case has baguette-cut gems
- 50: Watch has a decorated dial
- 700: Gold or gemstone case
- 900: Watch has a combination of special features
Patek Philippe collections also use letters in its reference numbers and each letter refers to the watch material including:
- T: Titanium
- R: Rose gold
- J: Yellow gold
- G: White gold
- A: Stainless steel
- P: Platinum
Patek Philippe Collections
In 1976, Patek Philippe entered the sports watch market for the very first time with the introduction of the Nautilus. Designed by Gerald Genta, the same man behind the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak, the first model was crafted in stainless steel and featured a 42mm case, nicknamed the “Jumbo.” The rounded-octagonal case and porthole bezel, gives it a strong profile and unique silhouette. The dial is horizontally embossed for a sporty texture. It is a beauty.
There are numerous references of the Nautilus collection – from gold and diamond dress watches to Ref. 5711, which has been discontinued and is a plain dial version in stainless steel. Although the Nautilus 5771 collection had been expanded over the years from the plain dial in stainless, it was discontinued in 2021.
The Nautilus comes in a variety of precious metals, covered in diamonds or with various combos of complications. The case diameter sits at 40.5mm and the straps can be a bracelet or leather. There is even a Nautilus for the ladies that are characterized by a wavy dial pattern that are often set with diamonds.
The Aquanaut is considered the Nautilus’ younger sibling and was introduced to the world in 1997. It is also considered a luxury sports watch with a similar case design. Where it differs is the dial, which has a grid shape embossed on the face and it often has a tropical rubber strap with the same grid shaped embossed on the dial. The size of the Aquanaut ranges in size from 34mm to 40mm for the time and date versions, and when it was first introduced it was mainly stainless with a simple time and date function.
There are however some complicated versions of the Aquanaut that do come in precious metals. The movement ranges from a GMT variation as well as a quartz model. The Aquanaut is considered the cool, water-ready watch with a sportier edge than the Nautilus.
The Calatrava was first released in the late 1920s and is a simple and elegant dress watch. Featuring a slim round case typically made from 18k gold or platinum. This watch rarely has anything other than leather straps, but you can find some with bracelets. The dial is simple, with either the time only or it may have a date window.
In 2022, the Calatrava collection includes a new hobnail case and a textured dial inspired by vintage camera cases. Calatrava watches are generally manual winding timepieces so the cases can be as slim as possible, and the case size is generally 35mm to 39mm. This is considered a true classic in luxury dress watches, and you don’t have to break the bank to purchase one. A pre-owned Calatrava will start around $6,000.
Complicated and Grand Complication
Before we get into the details, a complication is any function on a watch that goes beyond telling the time. Examples include dual time watches, chronographs, annual calendars, world timers, and more. The Grand Complication has three or more complications other than telling time. Both the complications and grand complications is where Patek Philippe collections really shine.
In the Complicated collection (which includes complicated and grand) there are more than 36 models. Here are some of the complications you can find within the Patek Philippe Collections:
- World time, which tells time across 24 time zones
- Annual Calendar indicates the correct date all year and requires manual adjustment on March 1st
- Travel time is a dual time watch with 2 hour hands at the center, one for local time and one for a second time zone. The second time zone is activated by a duo of pushers on the case and jumps in 1 hour increments. The second time zone hand can be hidden behind the traditional hour hand.
- Minute Repeater is a split-seconds chronograph
- Perpetual Calendar is a full date calendar that doesn’t need adjust for a hundred years
This is just the tip of the iceberg of complications that Patek Philippe offers, just know that every complication is precise and complex with an endless variety.
In 1968 when Patek came out with the Golden Ellipse, there want anything like it on the market. It is ultra-thin and often has a dripping gold bracelet. The shape is an ellipse, two hands and are made from gold or platinum. The bracelets can be matching metal or leather. The modern Golden Ellipse is about 39.5mm.
Although the Golden Ellipse collection use to have both men’s and women’s versions, today it only features versions for men – but we know lots of women who prefer the men’s version! These watches are either manual winding, automatic or quartz.
Twenty-4 is a dedicated women’s collection, that runs 36mm with a variety of case sizes that include rectangular and round. These watches have simple designs and are one of the best-selling collections to date and can be worn all day and is very versatile from casual to dressy.
The first generation of the Twenty-4 is available in stainless or gold with link bracelets, diamonds, and a quartz movement. The collection has been expanded to include automatic watches.
The Gondolo collection is a women’s collection with smaller dials that come in a variety of shapes and often have diamonds. These watches represent an Art Deco style that is reminiscent of the 1920s and 1930s, although they were launched in the 1990s.
What makes the Gondolo stand out is the shapes are not round, but rectangular, tonneau, and cushion, along with the dozens and dozens of diamonds that adorn the watch. These come in a variety of materials, styles, shapes and for the person who wants to stand out in a crowd.
“You never actually own a Patek Philippe, you merely look after it for the next generation.”
The tagline you won’t ever forget, this personifies the timeless appeal of Patek Philippe watches and the fact that they’re built to last several lifetimes and they are truly items designed and destined to become cherished family heirlooms.
Buy Or Sell A Patek Philippe Watch Today
If you think to yourself, should I sell my Patek Philippe watch or how much is my Patek Philippe worth, Jonathan’s Watch Buyer can help! We not only buy Patek Philippe, but we can also source and sell what we don’t have, so we can find your perfect Patek for you. Just contact us.
If you’re new to the world of watches, be sure to read up on everything you need to know about Rolex. We have several articles that cover Rolex, as well as how to spot a fake.