Patek Philippe Lowers Watch Prices in USA

EUR CHF Graph courtesy xe-com

As you may be aware, the Swiss Central Bank recently abandoned its caps on the CHF/EUR exchange rate.  This led to an immediate and rather significant ~15% move in the currency, to the detriment of Swiss watchmakers and other Swiss exporters.  The immediate reaction from the industry was one of shock and awe from those impacted. And of course, watch collectors everywhere wondered what all this would mean for prices (though some savvy buyers managed to snap up pieces in advance of anticipated price increases).  And now we are starting to get a clearer picture of new price dynamics in the luxury watch market, with recent announcements from two of the world’s most influential watchmakers.  Immediately after the exchange rate move, Rolex, the world’s largest watch brand, announced it would implement a high single-digit price increase in Japan.

Patek Philippe Logo

And now, Patek Philippe, one of the world’s preeminent and most prestigious watch manufacturers, has announced a series of price adjustments across its various markets.  As you can see in the letter below, the price changes — which include a 7% decrease here in the US — are an effort to adjust to the recent currency moves and reach price parity across markets.  Beyond the U.S., prices are being lowered in other geographies as well, and raised in others.  There is also mention of retail watch inventories being at “unreasonable levels” which surely factored into the announcement as well.

Click here to read the letter from Thierry Stern to his “Partners” (his retailers) outlining all the details:

Patek Philippe SA Global Price Adjustment Letter Feb 2015

And if you haven’t yet see our hands-on review and commentary on the new Patek Philippe Ref 5975 Multi-Scale Chronopgraph for the brand’s 175 Anniversary, you should check that out now, right here>>>

Patek-Philippe-5975-Perpetuelle-2 - Copy

Double Take: Patek Philippe Reference 5975 Multi-Scale Chronograph (Hands-On)

Patek Philippe 5975 1 - Perpetuelle

It should come as no surprise that Patek Philippe, one of the world’s premiere watchmakers, cleverly devised a line of timepieces to commemorate its 175th anniversary as a company. Four limited edition models, in an assortment of precious metals, sizes, and designs, celebrated the occasion—the 5575 (the 7175 being the ladies’ variant), 5975 (the 4675 being the ladies’ variant), 5275, and the astonishing 5175. But the cleanest and most restrained of the bunch is undeniably the 5975, a chronograph that functions differently from what one would expect of the complication.

More specifically, the 5975 features a seldom-seen layout in which the chronograph hand measures heart rate, distance from a stationary object, and speed over an established radius as it traverses the dial. Pulsimeter, telemeter, and tachymeter scales crowd the face, but with a bit of brain power and a penchant for pre-digital age means of making measurements, ease of use is high and never an eye sore during daily wear.

Patek Philippe 5975 4 - Perpetuelle

A brief breakdown of each scale:

Pulsimeter: taken directly from Patek’s press release: “medical heart rate measurements are expressed as the number of pulses per minute. To accelerate such measurements without having to wait for an entire minute while counting, the Multi-Scale Chronograph has a pulsimeter scale calibrated to 15 heartbeats (GRADUE POUR 15 PULSATIONS). If the Multi-Scale Chronograph is started when the first pulse is felt and stopped on the fifteenth, the pulsimeter scale display the number of pulses per minute. During their daily rounds in the wards, physicians once typically had to take the pulse of over a hundred patients. A pulsimeter watch saved them more than an hour a day.”

Telemeter: in the case of most watches utilizing a telemeter scale, distance from an object is measured in kilometers. The scale’s importance in military history is dually noted, as it was especially useful in determining the range between a gun and its target.

Tachymeter: the most common scale on chronographs. Calculates distance based on speed or speed based on a set amount of time.

Patek 5975 Dial Close Up - Perpetuelle

In terms of construction, the 5975’s dial appears relatively basic at first glance, which looks out of place, given its hefty asking price. Until light reflects from the surface at a variety of angles—which reveals a glowing, three-dimensional hue, perfectly chamfered indices, and beveled dauphine hands—it seems like one of 5975’s weakest points. But perhaps that’s exactly as Patek intended—the face effortlessly captures the spirit of a vintage watch, and meticulously crafted details only present themselves under close, and careful, inspection. Think of the 5975 as a watch for those who prefer to live their lives under the radar, with none of the flashy glitz commonly associated with timepieces commanding astronomical prices.

Patek Philippe 5975 - Perpetuelle

Aesthetically, the 5975’s 40mm case falls in line with that mindset, too, being relatively simple aside from finely sculpted lugs that are detachable come service time. Even after a studious look at the overall package, one would be hard pressed to notice such a subtle detail—the fit is exceptionally tight and not unlike what Rolex has achieved in recent years with their cases and bracelets. But know that Patek is not Rolex and quiet brushing lining the sides of the pushers, for instance, elevates the 5975 into an entirely different class. And that’s only one example of its prowess.

Powering the 5975 is Patek’s proprietary caliber CH 28-520, which is an automatic movement, as opposed to a more appropriate manual wind that typically coincides with the company’s chronographs. Featuring a solid gold rotor, column wheel, vertical clutch, and 55 hours of power reserve, the movement comes in at 5.2mm in height, making the watch 10.25mm thick—extraordinarily thin for a contemporary chronograph. Patek’s quality seal also adorns the movement meaning a very high level of finish and accuracy—the 5975 is rated at -3/+2 seconds a day, even with the chronograph running.

Patek Philippe 5975 Case Back 2 - Perpetuelle

But therein lies an issue: to maintain the watch’s thin profile, Patek chose to keep the 5975’s movement behind a closed back and a commemorative engraving. Reading “Patek Philippe Geneve 175e Anniversaire 1839-2014,” first impressions paint the presentation a bit of a letdown, but it suddenly makes sense, if only for the fact that the company is able to craft their products as they please and watch collectors eagerly line up for their next purchase. And, honestly, that speaks volumes of Patek’s reputation in the watch world, given that rarely do any of their products flop. A buyer always exists for the newest limited production Patek, no matter the amount of quirks, cost, or aesthetic.

The verdict: there’s no doubt that Patek Philippe has worked hard to earn the status it enjoys today, and the 5975, along with the rest of the 175th anniversary collection, is proof of that. As expected, none of these watches is perfect, and in the case of the 5975, its biggest setback is a lack of a display back and perhaps that the dial doesn’t jump out at you at first glance. A closer look, however, renders those thoughts obsolete—the 5975 is a stunning piece—aesthetically and technically—capable of captivating lucky collectors for years to come. Bravo, Patek Philippe. Bravo.

Patek Philippe 5975 Deployant Buckle 2 - Perpetuelle

Patek Philippe 5975 Presentation Box Top - Perpetuelle

Included with the 5975 is a luxurious wood presentation box, celebrating Patek Philippe’s 175th anniversary. Particularly noteworthy is the commemorative inscription.

Patek Philippe 5975 Presentation Box  3 - PerpetuelleBreakdown of the 5975 model lineage (5975G seen in the article):

5975J – 18k yellow gold; limited to 400 units; priced at 53,000 CHF / $64,000

5975R – 18k rose gold; limited to 400 units; priced at 55,ooo CHF / $67,000

5975G  – 18k white gold; limited to 400 units; priced at 55,000 CHF / $67,000

5975P – platinum; limited to 100 units; priced at 78,000 CHF / $95,000

The official press release for the Patek Philippe Reference 5975, with full technical specifications, can be viewed right here.

Patek Philippe Chiming Jump Hour Ref 5275P (175th Anniversary)

Patek Philippe Geneve logo Patek Philippe Chiming Jump Hour Ref 5275P (175th Anniversary)

By now you are all no doubt familiar with the Patek Philippe Grandmaster Chime 5175R, a $2.2 million masterpiece made in celebration of Patek’s 175th anniversary (if not, here you go…).  But there was another piece among the anniversary collection that I wanted to highlight:  the Chiming Jump Hour 5275P.    This is an intriguing watch for more reasons than one, so let’s take a closer look shall we.

The 5275P, presented in a classic tonneau-shaped case (39.8 x 47.4 mm, made of platinum), combines three jumping indications with an acoustic indication at the top of every hour.   The periphery and the minute circle of the dial, as well as the case flanks are engraved with an intricate floral motif (which, like the ostentatious engraving on the Grandmaster Chime, I am not particularly fond of).    The watch has a solid platinum case back with the engraving “PATEK PHILIPPE GENEVE 175e Anniversaire 1839 – 2014”.

Patek Philippe Chiming Jump Hour Ref 5275 anniversary watch front back

The small slide for enabling and disabling the hour strike is located at 10 o’clock.

Patek Philippe Chiming Jump Hour Ref 5275P caseband

At 12 o’clock, the gold dial features an aperture for the digital hour indication. The minute hand revolves in the off-center minute circle that dominates the top half of the dial. The scale is graduated with black Arabic numerals as well as black minute index dots. The prominent seconds subdial at 6 o’clock has a black railway track scale, black Arabic numerals, and a black nickel-plated Breguet-style hand.

Patek Philippe Chiming Jump Hour Ref 5275P (175th Anniversary) dial detail

The platinum fold-over clasp bears the engraved inscription “PATEK PHILIPPE 1839 – 2014” as well as an engraved Calatrava cross in the middle.  Superb!

Patek Philippe Chiming Jump Hour Ref 5275P (175th Anniversary) strap clasp

The name of the watch tells us that this is a jump hour watch, but in fact it is more than that — all timekeeping functions on the watch are “jump” (rather than “sweep”).  A closer look at the Chiming Jump Hour reveals that the seconds hand jumps from one scale marker to the next in one-second steps.  As soon as the seconds hand reaches the 60, the minute hand also jumps from one minute marker to the next.  And finally, once an hour, the digital display in the aperture at 12 o’clock jumps to the new hour precisely at the same moment when the seconds and minute hands advance.  Also at the top of each hour, the Chiming Jump Hour gives a soft chime, thus marking each hour acoustically as well.

Patek Philippe Chiming Jump Hour Ref 5275 anniversary watch

These mechanics are achieved in an ingenious way with the new manually wound caliber 32-650 HGS PS movement. During a period of four years, the in-house ateliers developed mechanisms that could not only store the energy needed for the jumping indications but would also synchronize the jumps of the seconds, minutes, and hours with extreme accuracy.  Three patent applications were filed for these solutions.  Also of note is the use of Patek’s Silinvar (a silicon derivative) for some of the components, as described further below.

Pate Philippe calibre 32-650 HGS PS back

Pate Philippe calibre 32-650 HGS PS dial side

A most conspicuous part of the caliber is the seconds lever made of Silinvar®, a derivative of silicon. It is connected to a spring which stores the energy of the eight semi-oscillations of the balance that make up one second.  The lever engages with a wolf-tooth Silinvar wheel which in turn meshes with the fourth wheel.   After every sequence of eight semi-oscillations, the lever is lifted. The wolf-tooth wheel advances by one tooth and moves the fourth wheel by 6 degrees, which causes the seconds hand to jump forward by one second.  For more on general jump hour mechanics, see “Did You Know”, below.

Patek Silinvar Lever and Gear

The watch pays tribute to the Ref. 3969 with a jumping digital hour which was launched in 1989 on the occasion of Patek Philippe’s 150th anniversary (side note:  compared to the 1989 Ref 3969, you can see just how far Patek has progressed during the past 25 years!).

The Chiming Jump Hour Ref. 5275 is being crafted in a limited anniversary edition of 175 pieces. Price is 310,000 Swiss Francs, or about $350,000 US.

Official listing at Patek.com

*****

Did You Know?

A Patek Mini-Primer On Jump Hour Watches

In conventional mechanical watches, the hands move continuously in step with the balance. In most watches, it oscillates at a frequency of 21,600 or 28,800 semi-oscillations per hour, corresponding to 6 or 8 oscillations per second. With every semi-oscillation, the balance allows the escape wheel to rotate by one tooth, and this motion is transferred to the hands by the going train. The hands move forward incrementally. The seconds hand makes this cadence apparent, but the stepwise motion of the minute and hour hands is barely discernible.

The Chiming Jump Hour also has a balance, and it performs 8 semi-oscillations per second. However, the energy is not directly transferred to the seconds hand. Instead, it is accumulated in a storage mechanism that only releases it to the fourth wheel when the eighth semi-oscillation takes place. Analogously, the power stored during a time interval of 60 seconds must be delivered to the minute hand instantaneously, and the same process occurs after 60 minutes when the digital hour display needs to be advanced as well. This particular moment involves a handicap: an hour disk is heavier than an hour hand and thus needs more power to move. But even more energy is needed, since a small hammer strikes a gong at the top of every hour. This aptly illustrates that a watch with three jumping indications plus an hour strike is a remarkable accomplishment in energy management.

 

Most Expensive Watch Ever: $24 Million Patek Philippe “Henry Graves Supercomplication” (videos)

Patek Philippe Henry Graves Supercomplication pic by Sothebys

The Henry Graves Supercomplication by Patek Philippe re-established its supreme status as the most valuable timepiece in history, selling at auction for CHF 23.2 million ($24 million / €19.3 million / £15.1 million) in the Sotheby’s “Important Watches” sales in Geneva earlier today.  This surpasses the previous record sale for a timepiece of $11 million, which was established in 1999 by…this very same watch.   Five bidders competed for this masterpiece of horology which went to an anonymous buyer in the room after 15 minutes of suspense.  Completed by Patek Philippe in 1932, the Henry Graves Supercomplication is the most complicated watch ever made by human hands – and now quite likely the most famous watch in the world.   The watch originally sold for the tidy sum of $15,000 on January 19, 1933 to Mr. Henry Graves.

Henry Graves Supercomplication by Patek Philippe

Discover the Henry Graves Supercomplication by Patek Philippe, the most important watch in the world. First commissioned in 1925, the Supercomplication has an astounding 24 complications

The Story of the Henry Graves Jr Supercomplication

THE 24 COMPLICATIONS

Weighing approximately 535g (1 lb. 3 ounces), the watch consists of 920 individual components including 430 screws, 110 wheels, 120 mechanical levers or parts and 70 jewels.

Patek Philippe Henry Graves Supercomplication movement view pic by Sothebys

Timekeeping

  • The hours, minutes and seconds of sidereal time (3)
  • The time of sunset and sunrise (2)
  • The equation of time

Calendar

  • Perpetual calendar
  • The days of the month
  • The days of the week
  • The months
  • The stars chart
  • The age and phases of the moon

Chronograph (stopwatch)

  • The Chronograph
  • Split seconds
  • The 30-minute recorder
  • The 12-hour recorder

The Chime

  • The “Grande sonnerie” (Westminster chimes) with carillon
  • The “Petite sonnerie” with carillon
  • The minute-repeater
  • The alarm

Other functions

  • The going train up-down indication
  • The striking train up/down indication
  • The twin barrel differential winding
  • The three-way setting system

Henry Graves Jr.

Mr. Graves began acquiring Patek Philippe timepieces in the 1910s, ultimately becoming one of the firm’s most notable patrons. Mr. Graves would either commission watches from the firm or would ask Patek Philippe to personalize timepieces he acquired with his family’s coat-of-arms.

Henry Graves Jr. pic by Sothebys

I do recommend the Official Lots Notes by Sotheby’s for more information.