Patek Philippe is generally regarded as the top brand among all major Swiss watch manufacturers. Why is this true? Rüdiger Bucher, Editorial Director of WatchTime’s German sister magazine Chronos, lays out seven reasons for Patek Philippe’s success.
Reason #1: Expertise
Patek Philippe has mastered every aspect of fine watchmaking – from the hand-winding two-hand watch and “standard” complications with functions like an annual calendar or second time zone, to sophisticated masterpieces with minute repeaters, tourbillons, and split-seconds chronographs. Masterful artisan craftsmanship goes hand-in-hand with the use of modern, high-tech machinery.
Reason #2: Tradition
This level of expertise cannot be achieved overnight. Patek Philippe has been in existence for 177 years and has produced watches continuously during this time, resulting in an immense amount of experience that is passed on from one generation of watchmaker to the next.
Reason #3: Vision for the future
Although Patek Philippe has such a storied tradition, the manufacture is not bound to its past. On the one side, the company maintains the values of the traditional art of watchmaking while investing greatly in the use of new materials, technologies and production methods. The brand has also made a conscious choice to create new designs like the 2015 pilots’ watch, the Calatrava Pilot Travel Time (which we cover in detail here).
Reason #4: Quality
Quality is the most precious resource at Patek Philippe. The entire company is designed to support it. With the introduction of the Patek Philippe Seal in 2008 the company imposed rigid standards that often exceed normal industry standards. But the commitment to quality does not just apply to the watches themselves. Patek Philippe places the highest standards on employee training – from the watchmaker to the salesperson, including customer support that extends from sales to service.
Reason #5: Family-owned company
Patek Philippe began in 1839 and has been led for over 80 years by the Stern family, with the ownership now in its fourth generation. This provides a high degree of consistency in the company’s philosophy and policies. It also excludes the possibility of radical shifts in direction imposed by a changing management, so the path of success will most certainly continue. This ensures sustainability, which is closely aligned with the following point.
Reason #6: Value
Anyone who purchases a Patek Philippe knows that he probably won’t lose any money if he chooses to sell it at a later date. And it’s entirely possible that the value of the watch will increase over time, though there is no way to predict this in individual cases. But it’s a reassuring fact, even when most people purchase a watch simply for their own enjoyment and don’t have immediate plans to resell.
Reason #7 for the success of Patek Philippe: Perfect decoration
The quality of hand-applied decoration in the manufacturing process is high, both in technique and style. About 40 to 60 steps are needed even for inconspicuous parts like wheels. Artisan processes such as enamel painting, extremely delicate engraving, the setting of precious stones and inlays all play a significant role.