From Calatravas to Chronographs

The Complete Buying Guide to Patek Philippe


August 28, 2019 Watches By

Like Rolex, Patek Philippe is an independent brand, and so this storied Swiss watchmaker has carved its an esoteric path through the thickets of horology to create what many argue are the very best watches in the world. ‘Best’, of course, doesn’t mean perfect. Naysayers armed with a flimsy (and deeply ironic) anti-luxury ethos typically target the high prices and then have little left to say, because a Patek Phillipe watch — even if you don’t like the thing or what you presume it stands for — is an undeniably awesome piece of human ingenuity.

Established in 1839, Patek Philippe has since developed a vast collection that currently includes over 160 watches and over 40 in-house movements. For an exhaustive list of all that’s on offer, we suggest ordering a hard copy of the Patek Philippe catalog. It is an elegant picture book that deserves a spot on any serious watch fan’s shelf. For those who are looking to navigate this dense collection without wading through the complex marketing rhetoric, we have assembled the following stripped-down guide to get you well acquainted with Patek Philippe in short order.

Let’s first get our heads around the major categories within the Patek Philippe collection.

Nautilus: An icon of the 1970s that helped Patek Philippe enter the sports watch market in 1976.

Aquanaut: Brought out in 1997 as an affordable alternative to the Nautilus, these watches have recently become hard to come by, especially in steel.

Calatrava: Patek Philippe’s Bauhaus-inspired round dress watches, first released in the late 1920s. Typically simple and elegant, with time and date only, these blank canvases also get paved with diamonds.

Complications: Usually housing two or three complications (mechanical devices that do something other than tell the time), these watches range from clean and simple dials to deeply decorative ones.

Grand Complications: Within horology, a grand complication has several complications within one watch. There’s no hard line, but most folks agree that (excluding a date mechanism) three complications or more constitutes a grand complication.

Golden Ellipse: Originally issued in 1968, these truly unique oblong ultra-thin watches are available again in an updated larger size. One of the most elegant time-only watches ever created.

Twenty~4: 36mm and smaller, round or square, mechanical or quartz, these are dress watches for women.

Buying Guide

Nautilus Collection

Some would say that Patek Philippe was playing catch up to Audemars Piaget’s groundbreaking Royal Oak when it hired acclaimed designer Gerald Genta in the 1970s, but the resulting watch, the Nautilus, went on to be a disco-era classic unto itself. Today the demand is so high that you’ll have to wiggle your way onto a long wait list to get one.

5711 Nautilus

Many consider this the perfect luxury sports watch at 40mm. The real deal is the steel, and it’s more rare than the gold versions. Waiting lists for the steel are years-long, and you’ll probably have to already be a regular customer at the dealer to even get on those lists. This is the model Patek riffs on the most, so we’ll be showing you more 40mm Nautilus models below.
Case Diameter: 40mm
Complications: date
MSRP: ~$30,620+

5719 Time and Date

With more diamonds than the Wizard had emeralds, this watch is a study in how to turn a simple and tasteful watch into a ridiculously lavish one. Pairs nicely with private jets, large yachts, and, perhaps, the occasional jeweled tiara?
Case Diameter: 40mm
Complications: date
MSRP: Price upon request

5712 Nautilus Moonphase Power Reserve

Add a moon phase and pointer date on one subdial, move the seconds to another subdial, and include a power reserve gauge, and you’ve got the 5712.
Case Diameter: 40.5mm
Complications: Moonphase, date, power reserve gauge
MSRP: ~$41,050+

5724 Nautilus Moon Phase with Power Reserve Gauge

If the above 5712 isn’t fancy enough for you, then you could opt for this diamond-encrusted version in order to let the world know that you simply do not eff around. An exact replica of the 5712, however, this is not — it’s 0.5mm smaller.
Case Diameter: 40mm
Complications: Moonphase, date, power reserve gauge
MSRP: ~$198,450+

5726 Nautilus Annual Calendar with Moonphase

If the 5712 isn’t symmetrical enough for you, check out the 5726. With it’s centrally located moonphase/running seconds subdial and day-date apertures, this watch is balance personified.
Case Diameter: 40.5mm
Complications: Moon phase, day-date-month (annual calendar)
MSRP: ~$45,930+

Nautilus 5980 Chronograph

At first glance, you might not see the chronograph function on this unique layout. Seconds are tracked by the main sweep hand, while 60 minutes and 12 hours are tracked on the clever dual-register subdial.
Case Diameter: 40.5mm
Complications: Chronograph, date
MSRP: ~$64,640+

5990 Dual Time

Only available in steel, the 5990 is a true world traveller, with jumping local hour hand and Patek’s unique AM/PM indicators for both local and home time. The waiting list is long enough for you to save up the $55k you’ll need go hand over for it.
Case Diameter: 40.5mm
Complications: Dual time, date, dual AM/PM indicators
MSRP: ~$55,340+

5740 Perpetual Calendar with Moon Phase

One of Patek Philippe’s most highly praised movements, the perpetual calendar here comes in a 40mm white gold case. Ironically, these aren’t quite as hard to get compared to the steel models with less expensive complications.
Case Diameter: 40mm
Complications: Perpetual calendar, moon phase
MSRP: ~$123,380+

7118 Series Nautilus

A mid-to-small sized luxury sport watch that’s timeless enough to be your only watch.
Like it’s larger sibling above, the 7118s are hard to get in steel, especially on the bracelet. In hand, they are beyond well made, practically glowing with quality. Many women opt for the 7118.
Case Diameter: 35.2mm
Complications: Date
MSRP: ~$35,000+

5710 Time and Date

For the ladies, this 32mm beauty is quartz-powered and set with 46 diamonds.
Case Diameter: 32mm
Complications: Date
MSRP: ~$32,660+

Aquanaut Collection

Launched in 1997, the Aquanaut was Patek’s attempt to offer a more affordable sports watch. It is, however, an incredibly cool, water-ready watch that has a sportier edge than the Nautilus, largely due to the bold numerals and its iconic mid-century dial engraving (until they pave it with diamonds, that is).

5167 Aquanaut Time and Date

This is the most stripped-down Patek Philippe sports watch, and for those who think it doesn’t have enough going on, we suggest you get one on wrist and see if that doesn’t change your mind. The bezel is a subtle 16-sided affair, with brushed and polished case work that glimmers in steel and gold.
Case Diameter: 40mm
Complications: Date
MSRP: ~$19,730+

5164 Aquanaut Travel Time

Patek Phillipe’s clever dual time complication with the date on a handsome subdial and dual-AM/PM indicators takes the Aquanaut around the world without a hitch. It’s 0.8mm larger than its simpler cousin above.
Case Diameter: 40.8mm
Complications: Dual time, jumping hour hand, dual AM/PM indicators
MSRP: ~$35,380+

5869 Aquanaut Chronograph

This watch is a brilliant execution of the chronograph complication, with an inconspicuous 60-minute totalizer on the traditionally placed single subdial. The orange hands are extra sporty, especially on a Patek Philippe, while the larger 42.2mm case wears like a modern sport watch.
Case Diameter: 42.2mm
Complications: Date, chronograph
MSRP: ~$45,360+

5067 / 68 / 72 / 62 Ladies Aquanauts

Quartz, small, and styled for a traditionally feminine look, these smaller Aquanauts run on quartz. These also have the distinction of being some of the most affordable Patek Philippe watches, despite the diamonds, and start at $16,900.

Calatrava Collection

During the Great Depression, Patek launched the Calatrava as a Bauhaus-inspired solution to the draining bank accounts of America and Europe (very few folks were buying complicated wristwatches then). Like many solutions to hardship, the Calatrava broke the mold and set Patek Philippe ahead as a modern-thinking company. Today, these elegant watches defy the ages to appear as current as ever.

5227 Calatrava

Simple lines on the dial compliment the beautifully traditional case to form what many consider to be the epitome of the dress watch.
Case Diameter: 39mm
Complications: Date
MSRP: $33,450

5297 Calatrava

With its diamond-paved bezel and diamond indicators, this black-dialed beauty is calling across the room to your tux saying, “Come on, let’s eat caviar, spy on the fascists, and fall in love with a double agent.” Or something.
Case Diameter: 38mm
Complications: Date
MSRP: $40,600

5196 Calatrava

With a minimalist subdial for the running seconds hand and its refreshing lack of date window, the 5196 epitomizes the unadorned Bauhaus aesthetic that undergirds the Calatrava line. The 37mm case harkens back to and era when watches were generally smaller, but the 5196 has massive wrist presence.
Case Diameter: 37mm
Complications: N/A
MSRP: $20,870

5196P Platinum Calatrava

Following the less-is-more ethos, the 5196P is a completely badass watch that comes across as subtle and refined. Platinum is heavy, and this 37mm beauty feels solid and substantial on wrist. Suit and tie? Of course. Jeans and a black tee? Hell yes.
Case Diameter: 37mm
Complications: N/A
MSRP: $37,990

6006 Calatrava

One of the most striking and stark watches in the Patek Philippe catalog, the 6006 throws a whole new idea at the Calatrava ideal. This watch borrows details from both sport and military watches of the 20th Century, but manages to look like neither. The 6006 is completely unto itself.
Case Diameter: 39mm
Complications: Pointer date
MSRP: $31,410

5088 Platinum Calatrava

You’re not going to see many of these at your local watch meet-up, and that’s because they’re both rare and rather pricey. The hand-engraved black enamel dial steals the show, even from the hour and minute hands, which are playfully obscured by the dial’s scripty decorations.
Case Diameter: 38mm
Complications: N/A
MSRP: $94,120

Complications

Often featuring two or more complications (or non-time-telling devices), there are 41 individual models within this line from Patek Philippe. We direct you to their Complications Page to explore all of them, but we’ve selected the classics and stand-outs that are sure to whet your appetite for these hand-made beauties.

5146 Annual Calendar, Moon Phase

Classic, instantly recognizable as a 20th Century design, and executed with precision and grace, the 5146 is a Patek Philippe thoroughbred.
Case Diameter: 39mm
Complications: Annual calendar, moon phase
MSRP: ~$41,390+

5396 Annual Calendar, Moon Phase

A clever layout, this watch sneaks a 24-hour hand onto its subdial, while three separate apertures display day, date, and month.
Case Diameter: 38.5mm
Complications: Moon phase, annual calendar, 24-hour hand
MSRP: ~$49,780+

5205 Annual Calendar & Moon Phase

With its apertures splayed across the top of the dial, the 5205 takes on the grandeur of a gothic cathedral, while the moonphase tucked into the 24-hour hand on the subdial reads like a pagan icon to the subtler powers of lunar time.
Case Diameter: 40mm (5205), 42mm (5905)
Complications: ASnnual calendar, moon phase, 24-hour hand
MSPR: ~$49,780+

5905 Annual Calendar with Chronograph

That this watch manages a flyback chronograph and an annual calendar function within a single watch is a testament to how efficient design can promote elegance to the forefront. Add in those gothic apertures across the top, and you’ve got perhaps the most symmetrical complicated watch of all time.
Case Diameter: 42mm
Complications: Chronograph, annual calendar, moon phase
MSRP: ~$81,310+

5524 Calatrava Pilot Travel Time

When this watch debuted a few years ago, they were soon sold out worldwide. Happy with its success, Patek Philippe has been riffing on this design ever since.
Case Diameter: 42mm (see the 7234 for the 37.5mm version)
Complications: Dual time, date, dual AM/PM indicators
MSRP: $49,560

5230 World Timer

This watch has been an essential Patek Philippe offering for business folks around the world, and its elegantly engraved dial announces the owner’s worldliness with unabashed sophistication.
Case Diameter: 38.5mm
Complications: World timer (dual time function with world’s cities), date, AM/PM indication
MSRP: $48,540

5231 World Timer

If the world’s cities aren’t enough for you, consider the world itself. With its Atlantic-centric hand-painted enamel map, this watch announces itself in a Transatlantic accent that might sound something like Cary Grant effortlessly wooing a beautiful dame on a plane.
Case Diameter: 38.5
Complications: World timer (dual time function with world’s cities), date, AM/PM indication
MSRP: $73,710

Grand Complications

With 34 models, the Grand Complications are how Patek Philippe shows off. Including minute repeaters (chiming mechanical devices), tourbillons (rotating escapements), incredible celestial maps, and more, these watches are haute horlogerie personified. To see the entire current line of Grand Complications, visit this page, or simply peruse our selections below for the classics and stand-outs.

5327 Perpetual Calendar

A perpetual calendar will mechanically account for leap years, and — if wound properly — will remain accurate for decades on end. The busy subdials of the 5327 are surface reminders of the complexity that lies beneath the dial.
Case Diameter: 39mm
Complications: Perpetual calendar, moon phase, dual time, leap year
MSRP: $88,450

5320 Perpetual Calendar

Taking a completely different approach to the annual calendar, Patek Philippe is showing off by revealing less on the 5320’s dial. Symmetry is king, and the parchment-colored enamel dial drips with classic appeal. Looks amazing with casual wear, as well as with hand-sewn shoes and bespoke suits.
Case Diameter: 40mm
Complications: Perpetual calendar, moon phase, leap year indicator, AM/PM indicator
MSRP: $85,510

5159 Perpetual Calendar with Retrograde Date

The retrograde date hand follows the days of the month to its end, and then resets itself back to 1 when the month is over. The 5159’s design is intricate and sophisticated (Roman numerals, fine etchings, old-school lugs, and onion crown). It’ll catch the eye of anyone within range of its elite glimmer.
Case Diameter: 38mm
Complications: Moon phase, annual calendar, retrograde date hand
MSRP: $96,170

5160/500G Perpetual Calendar with Retrograde Date

Essentially a 5159 with an incredibly intricate case engraving, the 5160 has to been seen moving around on someone’s wrist to be fully appreciated. It’s surprisingly down-to-earth in person, and, given its blue accents, looks incredible with denim and a sports jacket. The 5160 puts the age-old question as to whether a watch can constitute art to rest; obviously the answer is emphatically affirmative.
Case Diameter: 38mm
Complications: Moon phase, annual calendar, retrograde date hand
MSRP: $176,910

5270 (and 5271) Chronograph Perpetual Calendar

Let’s put the finishing and beauty aside and marvel at the mechanical complexity of this watch: a full three-register chronograph, moon phase, annual calendar and more all in a small-format dress watch that manages to look perfectly balanced and uncluttered. The way Patek Philippe has dropped the subdials just below the equator to make room for the numerals at 10 and 2 is a kind of secret sauce that gives the dial just a bit of needed breathing room.
Case Diameter: 41mm
Complications: Chronograph, moon phase, annual calendar, AM.PM indicator, leap year indicator
MSRP: $192,780+

5372 Split Second Monopusher Chronograph Perpetual Calendar Moonphase

That’s a mouth-full, as it should be for one of the most complicated watches in the world. With two running stopwatches (continuous and lap timer, known as a split-second chronograph), all operated from a two discrete pushers, it boggles the mind to note that this watch track the years and movements of the moon, as well. This watch literally tracks the full spectrum of earth-bound time in its remarkably small 38.3mm case.
Case Diameter: 38.3mm
Complications: Split second chronograph on monopusher actuator, perpetual calendar, AM.PM indicator, leap year counter, moon phase
MSRP: Price upon request

5078 and 5178 Minute Repeater

This watch doesn’t look complicated, but a minute repeater is one of the most complex mechanical devices known to humankind. By pressing the button on the left side of the watch, you unleash that mechanism to produce chimes that count off the hours and minutes. Patek’s chimes are especially loud and pleasing, making them a favorite of the elite set.
Case Diameter: 38mm (5078) 40mm (5178)
Complications: Minute repeater
MSRP: Price upon request

6300G

Let’s get our heads around this mechanical marvel. Firstly, this is a reversible watch, which has its seemingly endless mechanisms displayed on two beautiful dials. Those complications include: a strikework isolator indicator, a second time zone with AM/PM indicator, day, date (on both dials), month, leap-year cycle aperture, four-digit year display, and a 24-hour and minute subdial. To control all that from a single crown requires a crown position indication (R,A,H), which puts the watch into three separate setting modes.
Case Diameter: 47mm
Complications: See above description
Price: Price upon request

Golden Ellipse Collection

When these watches came out in 1968, there really wasn’t anything like them on the market. Ultra-thin, often paired with dripping gold bracelets reminiscent of an Antoni Gaudi cathedral, and able to jive with that era’s Armani and YSL suiting, the Golden Ellipse didn’t just depart from Patek Phillip’s aesthetic, but from that of all of horology. Reissued recently in an updated larger size, the Gold Ellipse has been warmly welcomed back into the Patek lineup.

5738 Golden Ellipse

One model, two colorways.
Case Diameter: 39.5mm
Complications: N/A
MSRP: $31,980

Twenty-4 Collection

Back in 1998, Patek Philippe introduced this line of smaller, mostly jeweled watches. Especially in the bigger-is-better late 1990s, these were truly aimed at women, and remain so today. The largest is the round 7300 model at 36mm.

Gondolo Collection

Also aimed at women, these smaller watches come in an assortment of elegant and traditionally feminine shapes, often encrusted with diamonds. These art-deco watches allow Patek Philippe to dip into its storied history, offering early 20th Century elegance in the digital era. Timetelling plays second fiddle to the jewels throughout this lineup. Definitely not what she’ll be wearing to the gym. Sizes and prices vary.

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