Since 1839, the legendary Swiss giant Patek Philippe has been proving his watchmaking mastery in several forms. The journey began in 1845 with Antoine Norbert Patek de Pradwdzic and Jean Adrien Philippe.
However, the Stern family has owned the firm since 1932. And people today acknowledge Patek Philippe as one of the Holy Trinity. This Swiss watchmaker occupies the third position in the list of the most prestigious watchmakers of Switzerland, besides Audemars Piguet and Vacheron Constantin.
Within its historical span of over 180 years, Patek Philippe has provided the horology industry with plenty of innovations over time. The watchmaker has made several modifications to its creations. However, some watches are still available in the brand’s catalogue, evolving gradually as technologies and times advance.
So let’s explore three of the quintessential Patek Philippe watch collections and find out what changes took place with time between the earliest and current models.
The Classic Patek Philippe Watch Inventory
If you delve into the current catalogue of Patek Philippe watches, you will come across eight collections. Moreover, each collection consists of some of the most complicated watches globally and simple time-only models. The Calatrava is the oldest model in the brand’s portfolio, debuted in 1932 after the Stern family took control. Keep reading to explore three of the classic Patek collection.
The Patek Philippe Calatrava
A Patek Philippe Calatrava gives a picture of underrated elegance. The watch continues to enjoy utmost desirability and reverence due to its impeccable engineering, aesthetics and, more significantly, its availability.
Its origin dates back to 1932 when the Stern brothers perceived that they required something more mainstream than the standard watches. The primary intent was to gather substantial funds for the financially fraught company, Patek, Philippe & Cie.
Thus, David Penney designed the first Calatrava Reference 96 featuring a 31mm round case. However, the watch’s Bauhaus-inspired styling became the prototype of what a classic wristwatch for men should look like during the pocket watch era.
- Eventually, the Calatrava Reference 96 became an instant hit and remained in production until 1973.
- However, this timepiece paved the way for many variations over the years.
- The original model featured a small running seconds sub-dial.
- But Patek Philippe furnished the other versions of Reference 96 with no seconds indicator or a central seconds hand.
Over the years, you will see fluctuations in the case sizes; some models turned up with 40mm diameter. However, every Calatrava watch retains the same basic visuals of Reference 96.
The Patek Philippe Nautilus
Introduced in 1976, the Patek Philippe Nautilus is one of the most iconic watches ever produced. The watch got its name after the ship in ‘20,000 Leagues Under the Sea’, and the legendary Gerald Genta got the design inspiration from the porthole. The watch’s integrated bracelet resembles the angular case, and the grooved dial is reminiscent of the teak decking of a yacht.
- Perhaps the Nautilus Reference 3700-1A was the most attention-seeking timepiece that the brand had ever produced.
- The fact is that Patek Philippe is recognised for its exclusive materials and conservative elegance.
- Thus, when the brand unleashed a steel octagonal sports model with queer sides, it resulted in an uproar.
Patek Philippe continued to produce the Reference 3700 until 1990. Moreover, the watch underwent many upgrades and appeared in white & yellow gold, steel and two-tone gold models.
The 1980s offered the Reference 3800 in a smaller 37.5mm diameter, the 33mm Quartz Reference 3900 and the 27mm Reference 4700 for the ladies. However, the watchmaker introduced the first complication in the Nautilus line with Reference 3710 in 1998.
The Patek Philippe Aquanaut
When Patek Philippe released the Aquanaut in 1997, many people described it as the Nautilus Junior. However, the Aquanaut brought a contemporary aesthetic to the luxury sports watch concept. It also comes in a round, octagonal case like its bigger sibling but does not feature the hinged ears.
The first watch in the Aquanaut collection is Reference 5060A, measuring 35.6mm in diameter. Furthermore, it sported a screw-down case back that ensured water resistance up to 120m. Interestingly, the rubber strap was made of over 20 different materials that offered utmost protection against UV light or saltwater damages.
Later in 1998, the quartz Reference 5064 debuted, featuring a small 34mm case, besides the Reference 4960 for the ladies. Nonetheless, Patek Philippe expanded the Aquanaut collection over the years, and today it has about 13 models.