The Top 10 Rolex Submariner Alternatives

Without a doubt, the Rolex Submariner is easily the single most famous dive watch ever created. First launched in 1953 as a highly water-resistant timepiece specifically designed for scuba diving, the Submariner has transcended its humble tool watch roots, and it has become an internationally recognized status symbol that is worn by countless individuals all […] The post The Top 10 Rolex Submariner Alternatives appeared first on Bob's Watches.

The Top 10 Rolex Submariner Alternatives

Without a doubt, the Rolex Submariner is easily the single most famous dive watch ever created. First launched in 1953 as a highly water-resistant timepiece specifically designed for scuba diving, the Submariner has transcended its humble tool watch roots, and it has become an internationally recognized status symbol that is worn by countless individuals all around the globe.

Part of the reason why the Rolex Submariner has been such a widespread success is because it offers an incredibly versatile overall package. It is simultaneously tough enough to be worn in the most extreme environments (and it has), yet its appearance remains refined enough to easily pair with a button-up shirt when worn around the office. Need proof? It was a Rolex Submariner that was on James Bond’s wrist during the original 007 films and never once did his watch look out of place, regardless of whether he was wearing a wetsuit or a three-piece suit.

However, the Rolex Submariner’s widespread success and enduring desirability means that buying one these days has become a rather difficult (and expensive) task. Authorized retailers all around the globe have multi-year waiting lists for this highly popular model, and even the least expensive Rolex Submariner references from about 20-30 years ago are still going to set you back a minimum of five-figures on the pre-owned market. So, if you enjoy the core concept of the Submariner, but are looking for something either a bit more affordable (or just a bit different), then read on for a closer look at ten of the best Rolex Submariner alternatives.

Rolex Sea-Dweller

Sea-Dweller Key Features:

– Case Size: 43mm

– Materials: Stainless Steel; Stainless Steel & Yellow Gold

– Functions: Time w/ Running Seconds, Date Display, Helium Escape Valve

– Strap/Bracelet: Oyster Bracelet

– Retail Price: $11,700 – $16,600 (Approx.)

It might seem a little bit strange to offer another Rolex dive watch as an alternative to the Submariner, but there is a serious case to be made for the Rolex Sea-Dweller being the most overlooked Submariner alternative out there. Due to all the hype that surrounds the Sub, the Sea-Dweller simply gets missed by the average buyer, yet it actually offers even more impressive performance metrics than the legendary Submariner.

With an increased depth rating and the addition of a helium escape valve, the Sea-Dweller could almost be seen as the Submariner’s bigger and more capable brother. Additionally, at a retail level, the Sea-Dweller even costs more than the Sub; however, on the pre-owned market, that premium virtually evaporates, and you can get the current model Rolex Sea-Dweller for virtually the exact same price.

Omega Seamaster Diver 300M

Rolex Submariner Alternatives Omega Seamaster Diver 300M

Seamaster Diver 300M Key Features:

– Case Size: 42mm

– Materials: Stainless Steel; Stainless Steel & Yellow Gold; Stainless Steel & Sedna Gold; Sedna Gold; Titanium

– Functions: Time w/ Running Seconds, Date Display, Helium Escape Valve

– Strap/Bracelet: Metal Bracelet; Rubber Strap

– Retail Price: $4,900 – $23,100 (Approx.)

In terms of its on-paper numbers, the Omega Seamaster Diver 300M might just be the best Rolex Submariner alternative currently available. Priced at roughly half the retail cost of a Submariner, yet offering an even more impressive list of professional dive watch features, it is the true definition of a beach-to-boardroom timepiece, and also holds the distinction of being the go-to Omega watch for James Bond.

In regards to its styling, the Omega Seamaster Diver 300M is more refined and dressy than the Rolex Submariner, yet it still offers the same 300 meter depth rating and also adds a helium escape valve for saturation diving use. Additionally, the new models feature ceramic bezels, ceramic dials, and METAS-certified Master Chronometer movements that are antimagnetic up to fields in excess of 15,000 gauss. Omega offers the Seamaster Diver 300M in an impressive number of different configurations and unlike the Submariner, you can even find them at a small discount when shipping on the pre-owned market.

Omega Planet Ocean

Rolex Submariner Alternatives Omega Planet Ocean Seamaster

Planet Ocean Key Features:

– Case Size: 39.5mm; 43.5mm

– Materials: Stainless Steel; Sedna Gold; White Gold; Titanium; Black Ceramic; Brown Ceramic

– Functions: Time w/ Running Seconds, Date Display, Helium Escape Valve

– Strap/Bracelet: Metal Bracelet; Rubber Strap; Leather Strap; NATO Strap

– Retail Price: $6,450 – $104,700 (Approx.)

Like Rolex, Omega is another brand with two different collections of professional dive watches, and in the same way that the Sea-Dweller is the bigger and more capable brother to the Submariner, the Planet Ocean is the scaled-up version of the brand’s standard Seamaster Diver. With double the depth rating and an even wider range of available configurations, the Omega Planet Ocean is priced above the normal Seamaster, yet you could still likely purchase both a Planet Ocean and a Seamaster Diver 300M for less than the price of the current Rolex Submariner on the pre-owned market.

Not including the various chronograph and GMT variants, the Omega Planet Ocean is currently available in either a 39.5mm or a 43.5mm case and offered in a wide range of different configurations including high-tech materials like colored ceramic and even some ultra-lavish gem-set references crafted from solid 18k gold. Additionally, just like the standard Seamaster Diver, Omega Planet Ocean watches feature ceramic bezels, ceramic dials, METAS-certified Master Chronometer movements, and manually-operated helium escape valves that allow them to be used for saturation diving applications.

Tudor Black Bay

Rolex Submariner Alternatives Tudor Black Bay

Black Bay Key Features:

– Case Size: 41mm

– Materials: Stainless Steel; Black Ceramic

– Functions: Time w/ Running Seconds

– Strap/Bracelet: Metal Bracelet; Leather Strap; Fabric Strap

– Retail Price: $3,475 – $4,725 (Approx.)

No list of Rolex Submariner alternatives would be complete without at least one model from Rolex’s sister brand, and the Tudor Black Bay is a fantastic option that offers a lot of the same fun and styling of a vintage Submariner, but with modern technology and at an exponentially more adorable price point. While the 39mm Black Bay Fifty-Eight is the watch that most closely adheres to the proportions of vintage Submariner references, it is the full-size 41mm models that are the closest relatives to the current-production Rolex Submariner.

The Tudor Black Bay does offer a lower depth rating than the Submariner (200m vs. 300m) and the bezel insert is made from aluminum (rather than ceramic). However, 200 meters is more than enough for professional scuba diving use and given that it is a vintage-inspired watch, an aluminum insert is simply more appropriate. Most importantly, you can add a Tudor Black Bay to your collection for less than a third of the price of a Rolex Submariner, while also having your choice of three different colorways and the option of either a leather strap, fabric strap, or matching stainless steel bracelet.

Tudor Pelagos

Rolex Submariner Alternatives Tudor Pelagos

Pelagos Key Features:

– Case Size: 42mm

– Materials: Titanium & Stainless Steel

– Functions: Time w/ Running Seconds, Date Display, Helium Escape Valve

– Strap/Bracelet: Metal Bracelet; Rubber Strap

– Retail Price: $4,575 (Approx.)

The Tudor Pelagos could really most accurately be described as Tudor’s version of the Rolex Sea-Dweller, but it also makes a fantastic option for anyone looking for a slightly differnet alternative to the Submariner. Just like the Sea-Dweller, the Tudor Pelagos offers an increased depth rating and the addition of a helium escape valve; however, it also features a titanium case, a luminous ceramic bezel insert, and an advanced spring-loaded wetsuit extension system built into the clasp.

While the Black Bay is a vintage-inspired model, the Tudor Pelagos is unmistakably modern in its design and execution. Although it measures 1mm larger than the current Rolex Submariner, the Pelagos’s titanium case and bracelet make it significantly lighter than the Sub, and this is especially noticeable when worn on the wrist. Additionally, despite its impressive list of high-tech features and being from Rolex’s own sibling company (along with also being offered in either black or blue), the Tudor Pelagos only costs about half the price of a Rolex Submariner when purchased at retail, and even less when shopping on the pre-owned market.

Breitling Superocean

Rolex Submariner Alternatives Breitling Superocean

Superocean Key Features:

– Case Size: 36mm; 42mm; 44mm; 46mm; 48mm

– Materials: Stainless Steel; Titanium; Stainless Steel & Red Gold

– Functions: Time w/ Running Seconds, Date Display, Helium Escape Valve

– Strap/Bracelet: Metal Bracelet; Rubber Strap; NATO Strap

– Retail Price: $3,600 – $6,300 (Approx.)

Breitling is best known for its iconic pilot’s watches, but the brand also has a rich history of producing models designed for the sea, and the Superocean collection is where you will find all of its various dive watches. Additionally, Breitling also has the Superocean Heritage line that features a range of vintage-inspired models that draw their design cues from the original Breitling dive watches from the 1950s. Both Superocean collections offer a lot of value for the money, and even the top-of-the-line model that features a black DLC-coated case and an 18k red gold bezel only costs about two-thirds as much as the least expensive Rolex Submariner watches.

When it comes to on-paper performance metrics, Breitling Superocean watches continue to excel. Depth ratings for the standard Superocean watches start out at 200 meters and goe all the way up to 2,000 meters for the more advanced models. Additionally, many of the non-Heritage Superocean references feature helium gas escape valves, and a surprisingly wide range of variety exists when it comes to the available dial colors and configurations. Pilot’s watches and aviation are always going to be the first things that come to mind whenever someone thinks of Breitling, but the Superocean collection upholds the exact same standards of excellence and makes a fantastic alternative to the Rolex Submariner.

Panerai Submersible

Rolex Submariner Alternatives Panerai Submersible 

Submersible Key Features:

– Case Size: 42mm; 44mm; 47mm

– Materials: Stainless Steel; Titanium; Bronze; Goldtech; Carbotech; BMG-Tech;

– Functions: Time w/ Running Seconds; Date Display

– Strap/Bracelet: Rubber Strap

– Retail Price: $8,900 – $30,000 (Approx.)

Panerai is a brand that first got its start over a hundred years ago by making underwater instruments for the Italian navy, so it comes as no surprise that the brand also offers a dedicated line of dive watches – namely the Panerai Submersible. Originally, Submersible models were purpose-built divers from the Luminor collection but in 2019, the Submersible became its own standalone line of performance-oriented Panerai dive watches.

Panerai Submersible watches largely follow the same general blueprint of the Luminor with its cushion-shaped case and signature oversized crown-guard bridge; however, all Submersible models feature rotating timing bezels and increased depth ratings. Additionally, it is also within the Submersible collection where you will find some of Panerai’s most advanced modern materials such as Carbotech and BMG-Tech. All Panerai watches share the same core design DNA, and the Submersible makes a fantastic option for those that like the concept of the Rolex Submariner but who want a dive watch with an entirely different design ethos.

Oris Divers Sixty-Five

Rolex Submariner Alternatives Oris Divers Sixty-Five

Divers Sixty-Five Key Features:

– Case Size: 36mm; 38mm; 40mm; 42mm

– Materials: Stainless Steel; Bronze; Stainless Steel & Bronze

– Functions: Time w/ Running Seconds, Date Display

– Strap/Bracelet: Metal Bracelet; Leather Strap; Rubber Strap; NATO Strap

– Retail Price: $2,000 – $2,750 (Approx.)

Oris is often the first name that comes to mind whenever you think of affordable Swiss luxury watches, and the brand’s various divers are some of its most popular among lines collectors. The Oris Divers Sixty-Five is the modern recreation of Oris’s first dive watch from the 1960s, but built with modern materials and manufacturing techniques. At a quick glance, you’d be forgiven for thinking that a Divers Sixty-Five is a vintage Submariner, but the key difference here is that the Oris costs about a hundredth of the price.

While a vintage Rolex Submariner like the iconic ref. 6538 “James Bond” will set you back a minimum of six-figures, the Oris Divers Sixty-Five can frequently be found for prices between $1k and $2k on the pre-owned market. Additionally, since the Divers Sixty-Five is a modern watch with 100 meters of water resistance and a screw-down crown, you can freely swim and dive without any of the worries that come with a true vintage timepiece. Best of all, since it is available in case sizes that range from 36mm to 42mm and offered in a startlingly wide range of different colors and configurations, finding the perfect Oris Divers Sixty-Five for your wrist is both a fun and easy task.

Oris Aquis Date

Rolex Submariner Alternatives Oris Aquis Date

Aquis Date Key Features:

– Case Size: 36.5mm; 39.5mm; 41.5mm; 43.5mm

– Materials: Stainless Steel

– Functions: Time w/ Running Seconds; Date Display

– Strap/Bracelet: Metal Bracelet; Rubber Strap; Leather Strap

– Retail Price: $1,850 – $2,350 (Approx.)

Oris is yet another Swiss luxury watch brand with two separate collections of highly-popular dive watches. While the Divers Sixty-Five leans heavily in the vintage direction in terms of its aesthetics, the Oris Aquis is a thoroughly modern timepiece with a unique design language that is distinct to the brand. Defined by its multi-part case and integrated bracelet (or strap) design, the Oris Aquis Date builds upon the template of the classic stainless steel sports watch and adds professional dive watch features for a highly versatile yet refined overall package.

Like many other Oris collections, the Aquis is offered in a wide range of different options. At the present time, the Oris Aquis Date is available with case sizes ranging from 36.5mm all the way up to 43.5mm (and even larger for other Oris Aquis models), and there are also many different dial color and bezel configurations. In terms of its on-paper specs, the Oris Aquis Date is a highly capable dive watch, yet its refined appearance and integrated bracelet design allows it to effortlessly be dressed up when paired with more formal attire.

Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Diver

Rolex Submariner Alternatives Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Diver

Royal Oak Offshore Diver Key Features:

– Case Size: 42mm

– Materials: Stainless Steel; Pink Gold, White Gold

– Functions: Time w/ Running Seconds; Date Display

– Strap/Bracelet: Rubber Strap

– Retail Price: $22,800 – $59,100 (Approx.)

Not all alternatives have to be more affordable, and if the Rolex Submariner’s price and availability are not your greatest issues with owning one, then the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Diver might just be your perfect Submariner alternative. With its octagonal case, and internal rotating timing bezel, there is zero chance of mistaking the AP Royal Oak Offshore Diver for anything even remotely related to a Submariner, yet both models are Swiss-made luxury dive watches that are capable of standing up to anything you can throw at them.

Just like the Rolex Submariner, the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Diver is water-resistant to 300 meters; however, all examples of the watch are fitted with integrated rubber straps instead of matching stainless steel bracelets. Additionally, while the Submariner features an external rotating timing bezel, the Offshore Diver features an internal one that is operated by the secondary crown protruding from the side of the case at the 10 o’clock location. Overall, the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Diver looks nothing like a Rolex Submariner, but if it’s the core idea of the Submariner that appeals to you (rather than anything to do with its design), than the AP Offshore Diver might just be your perfect go-anywhere, do-anything sports watch.

The post The Top 10 Rolex Submariner Alternatives appeared first on Bob's Watches.

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The Evolution of the Patek Philippe Collection

The legendary watchmaking goliath now known as Patek Philippe has been in existence in one form or another since 1839. Initially headed up by a Polish cavalryman named Antoine Norbert Patek de Pradwdzic (Antoni, to his friends), he joined with the French horologist, Jean Adrien Philippe in 1845, becoming partner in the new firm of […] The post The Evolution of the Patek Philippe Collection appeared first on Bob's Watches.

The Evolution of the Patek Philippe Collection

The legendary watchmaking goliath now known as Patek Philippe has been in existence in one form or another since 1839.

Initially headed up by a Polish cavalryman named Antoine Norbert Patek de Pradwdzic (Antoni, to his friends), he joined with the French horologist, Jean Adrien Philippe in 1845, becoming partner in the new firm of Patek, Philippe & Cie in 1851. (It took until 2009 for them to drop the comma, becoming simply Patek Philippe).

Owned in its entirety by the Stern family since 1932, Patek Philippe is now regarded as one of the Holy Trinity, taking up a third share of the most prestigious timepiece manufacturers Switzerland has to offer, alongside Vacheron Constantin and Audemars Piguet.

But as you might expect, a manufacture that has been in the game for more than 180-years will have made plenty of changes to their creations over all that time. Some of the watches Patek still build today have been in their collection for generations, gradually progressing and evolving as times and technologies advance.

So, we have put together this guide to document just what form these transformations have taken, and to see the differences between the earliest and most recent examples of some of the finest watches in the world.

The Patek Portfolio

The current catalog of Patek Philippe wristwatches comprises eight individual families. Within them, you will find everything from the simplest two-handers ranging through to some of the most complicated models in the industry.

The oldest model name in the portfolio, the Calatrava, has been there since 1932, when the Stern’s took control, while the latest addition, the Twenty~4, joined the lineup in 1999. However, the Complications and Grand Complications collections include pieces that can trace their lineage back even further; Patek unveiled their first-minute repeater, for example, as early as 1916.

Below, we take a look at each specific group in turn.

The Patek Philippe Calatrava

Patek Philippe Calatrava

Patek Philippe Calatrava

If there was a dictionary definition for the term ‘understated elegance’ it would simply be a picture of a Patek Philippe Calatrava.

Minimalist, bordering on the humble, the Patek Philippe Calatrava has been the brand’s most commercially successful offering for decades thanks to its combination of flawless aesthetics, faultless engineering and, crucially, its availability. In the same way a Rolex AD usually has a Datejust in the window (and little else) the Calatrava is Patek’s most accessible model.

It all started in 1932 with the introduction of the Reference 96. Dreamt up by Jean and Charles Henri Stern upon gaining a controlling interest in the financially fraught Patek, Philippe & Cie, the brothers knew they needed something a little more mainstream than the brand’s usual models in order to get some much-needed funds into the company.

The David Penney-designed Reference 96, with its sumptuously rounded 31mm case and form-following-function, Bauhaus-derived styling quickly became the blueprint for what a gentleman’s dress wristwatch should look like, in an era where the pocket watch was still very much the norm.

As a result, it stayed in production all the way up to 1973 and gave birth to a myriad of variations. Where the original had a small sub-dial for the running seconds, other versions of the 96 had either a central seconds hand, or even no seconds indication at all. Different dials included a pilot’s model, with extra-large numerals, and sector dials, divided into inner and outer concentric circles.

Through the years, almost every Calatrava model has followed the basic visuals of Reference 96 because, well, why wouldn’t they? Case sizes have fluctuated, some even getting up to 40mm+, with the occasional subtle difference, such as the more angular, sporty Reference 565.

Other standout references include:

The Ref. 2526, the first Calatrava with an automatic movement, from 1953.

The Ref. 3520, the first appearance of the iconic Clous De Paris hobnail bezel

The Ref. 3960, made to commemorate Patek’s 150th anniversary in 1989, and was the first Officer style Calatrava, with straight lugs, turban crown and Hunter-style hinged case back.

As for the modern range, it contains a mix of some of the best historic models, given modern-day updates. The ref. 5196-001 is a virtual carbon copy of the debut piece, albeit in 37mm, available in either yellow, rose or white gold.

The ref. 6119-001 features the guilloche bezel of the vintage ref. 3520, while the ref. 7200R-001 is a reimagining of the anniversary Office style model, this time without the hinged back.

Top of the range is the ref. 5088/100P, a stunning platinum piece, with a hand carved black enamel dial decorated with interlacing arabesque scrolls.

Buying a Patek Calatrava

Patek Calatrava

Highly renowned or not, the Calatrava remains one of the most affordable models in Patek’s arsenal.

Preowned Vintage Examples

Approx. Starting Price:

Ref. 96—$10,000+

Ref. 2526—$35,000+

Ref. 3520—$10,000+

Ref. 3960—$25,000

Current Range Examples

Retail Price:

Ref. 5196J-001—$24,600 (Starting preowned price—$24,000 approx.)

Ref. 6119-001—$30,500 (Starting preowned price—$34,000 approx.)

Ref. 7200R-001—$31,500 (Starting preowned price—$22,500 approx.)

Ref. 5088/100P—$102,500 (Starting preowned price—$108,000 approx.)

The Patek Philippe Nautilus

Patek Philippe Nautilus 5711R

Patek Philippe Nautilus 5711R

One of the most important timepieces ever made, the Nautilus emerged in 1976. A retaliation to the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak launched four years earlier, and designed by the same man, the Patek Philippe Nautilus joined the newly conceived genre of the luxury sports watch.

Brainchild of the legendary Gerald Genta, recognized as arguably the greatest watch designer of all time, the Nautilus took its name from the ship in Jules Verne’s classic ‘20,000 Leagues Under the Sea’ and its inspiration from the look of an ocean liner’s porthole; the angular case forged into its integrated bracelet, finished off with a horizontally grooved dial resembling the teak decking of a lavish sailing yacht.

The debut piece, the 42mm ref. 3700-1A, was possibly the most disruptive watch Patek had ever made. A brand known for its conservative elegance, and its almost exclusive use of precious metals, unleashing a stainless steel octagonal sports watch with strange ‘ears’ on either side, caused an uproar. Doubling down on the controversy, they then topped it off with a price tag usually reserved for solid gold dress pieces. ‘One of the World’s Costliest Watches is Made From Steel’ trumpeted the unrepentant ads.

But with the AP Royal Oak paving the way, taking much of the sting out of the shock of the new, the Nautilus hit the ground running.

The ref. 3700 stayed in production until 1990 and, like the Calatrava ref. 96, went through plenty of editions. Yellow or white gold versions appeared, as well as two-tone gold and steel models.

The 1980s saw the smaller 37.5mm ref. 3800 arrive, as well as two quartz models; the 33mm ref. 3900 and the ladies ref. 4700, measuring just 27mm.

After that, the Nautilus received its first complication in 1998 with the ref. 3710, complete with winding zone indicator.

Today, the Nautilus collection is some 31 models strong, more than half of them simple time-and-date watches, while the remainder includes moon phases, chronographs, travel time and perpetual calendar examples.

Buying a Patek Nautilus


The esteem in which the Nautilus is held, coupled with the extreme lack of availability (current waiting lists for the most in-demand models are rumored to be around 10-years) means prices for this slice of horological celebrity often reach the absurd.

Preowned Vintage Examples

Approx. Starting Price:

Ref. 3700-1A—$80,000-$450,000+

Ref. 3800—$35,000-$300,000+

Ref. 3900—$30,000-$40,000

Ref. 4700—$10,000-$45,000

Current Range Examples

Retail Price:

Ref. 5711/1A—$35,200 (Starting preowned price—$100,000 approx.)

Ref. 5726/1A—$50,270 (Starting preowned price—$120,000 approx.)

Ref. 5990/1A—$59,140 (Starting preowned price—$140,000 approx.)

The Patek Philippe Aquanaut

Patek Aquanaut

Although the Nautilus may have been groundbreaking and radical on its release, over the ensuing 45-years it had become so ubiquitous that it was starting to be seen as a watch only for the seasoned collector. It was lacking the freshness, the pioneering spirit which had made it famous in the first place and Patek was in need of something to bring in a younger, hipper audience.

Enter the Patek Philippe Aquanaut. Described in some circles as the Nautilus Junior, the Aquanaut was unveiled in 1997 and brought a modernized aesthetic to the idea of the luxury sports watchkeeping many of the best design cues of its bigger brother, while introducing pleasing quirks of its own. So, while the case was still a rounded octagon, the hinged ears were dispensed with and the original references were fitted on a rubber strap featuring a raised guilloche pattern which was mirrored on the dial to give the whole thing a sense of cohesion.

The first model, the ref. 5060A, measured 35.6mm. Smaller than the equivalent Nautilus of the time, it was nevertheless a chunkier, more robust and just trendier proposition. What’s more, with its screw-down case back giving 120m water resistance, and that rubber strap constructed of more than 20 different materials to give it the ultimate protection against deterioration in saltwater or UV light, it was a far more practical watch too.

Following on from the debut model, in 1998 Patek released the quartz-powered ref. 5064, at an even smaller 34mm, along with a ladies version, the ref. 4960. That year also saw the ref. 5065 released, in the largest yet 38mm guise.

Since then, the Aquanaut has continued to grow, both physically and in popularity. The modern range has 13 pieces, all but one sitting on the rubber ‘Tropical’ strap and the majority coming in at 40mm+.

Mainly, time-and-date models, there are a handful of chronographs and travel timepieces as well.

Buying a Patek Aquanaut

Patek Aquanaut

Theoretically, the Aquanaut series is one of the most affordable of all Patek’s collections. The cheapest, the steel ref. 5167A, retails for around $21,650 for example. However, just as with the Nautilus, availability has become extremely limited and so preowned prices are skyrocketing.

Preowned Vintage Examples

Approx. Starting Price:

Ref. 5060A—$38,000

Ref. 5064A—$27,000

Ref. 5065A—$42,000

Current Range Examples

Retail Price:

Ref. 5167A—$21,650 (Starting preowned price—$72,000 approx.)

Ref. 5164A—$39,030 (Starting preowned price—$90,000 approx.)

Ref. 5968A—$49,680 (Starting preowned price—$150,000 approx.)

The Patek Philippe Complications

Patek Philippe Complication

As the manufacture to bring us the first-ever perpetual calendar and the first-ever annual calendar watches, Patek Philippe has long been at the forefront of industry innovation.

What may come as a surprise is that their perpetual calendar, the more complex of the two, emerged in 1864 on a pocket watch, while the brand didn’t produce their debut annual calendar until 1996.

Over the years the Patek Philippe name has become synonymous with highly intricate timepieces, and they have continued to lead from the front. The manufacture brought us the very first annual calendar chronograph in existence in 2006, in the shape of the ref. 5960, a piece still in the lineup today.

Many of Patek’s earliest complicated models, such as the ref. 2523 from their now-highly celebrated World Timers range, shoehorned the additional mechanisms required into Calatrava cases. That is also true of the contemporary series. The majority of the 35 watches in the collection have the signature gracefully rounded form, in varying sizes.

As for the complications themselves, you can take your pick from Weekly Calendars, Flyback Chronographs, Pilot Travel Time (dual time zone watches) and a range of modern World Time and World Time Chronograph pieces, in a selection of metals, from steel to platinum.

Buying a Patek Complication

As you might expect, with the incredible amount of work that goes into creating one of these models, coupled with the mostly precious metal construction, the Patek Philippe Complications collection is a pricey one. However, vintage examples can still be had for unexpectedly reasonable sums.

Preowned Vintage Examples

Approx. Starting Price:

Ref. 5146J (Moon Phase)—$42,500

Ref. 5035J (Annual Calendar)—$22,500

Ref. 5496P (Perpetual Calendar)—$75,000

Current Range Examples

Retail Price:

Ref. 5212A—$35,480 (Starting preowned price—$47,000 approx.)

Ref. 5905R—$53,460 (Starting preowned price—$62,000 approx.)

Ref. 5930G—$79,250 (Starting preowned price—$60,000 approx.)

The Patek Philippe Grand Complications

If the Complications range is impressive, the Patek Grand Complications collection is perhaps the ultimate expression of the watchmaker’s art.

The brand has been responsible for making the most complicated watch in the world several times. In 1933, the Henry Graves Jr. Supercomplication pocket watch, named for the millionaire New York banker who commissioned it, crammed 24 functions inside its 1lb shell, including a minute repeater, sidereal time and celestial chart. It went at auction in 2014 for $23,984,106, making it the most expensive timepiece ever sold at the time.

In 1989, on the occasion of Patek’s 150th anniversary, the manufacture brought out the Caliber 89 Grand Complication. Taking nine years to design and produce, it housed a 1,728 component, four-level movement powering 33 complications, with grand and petite sonnerie, alarm, thermometer and a 2-minute tourbillon among them. Patek actually made four versions of the Caliber 89, one in each flavor of gold along with a platinum piece, with the yellow gold example selling in 2009 for nearly $5m.

Then, on the 175th birthday of the brand in 2014, they unveiled the Grandmaster Chime, a 47mm wristwatch featuring 20 complications, with date repeater, second time zone and perpetual calendar all in there somewhere. It sold in 2019 for $31.2m, overtaking the Henry Graves for the title of most expensive watch ever.

The ‘standard’ Grand Complications range, if you can call it that, is an extraordinary series of exquisite timepieces. There is a whole selection of perpetual calendars, incorporating those with additional retrograde date complications and chronographs (including split-seconds monopushers), through to stunning astronomical models and fully skeletonized minute repeaters accessible only to the inordinately wealthy.

Buying a Patek Grand Complication

The Grand Complication collection is, unsurprisingly, Patek’s most expensive. Nevertheless, while you will be unlikely to find anything you could describe as a bargain, there is still a wide variation on price, in the both new and vintage sectors.

Preowned Vintage Examples

Approx. Starting Price:

Ref. 5040A (Perpetual Calendar)—$28,000

Ref. 3945 (Perpetual Calendar)—$35,000

Ref. 3970J (Perpetual Calendar)—$100,000

Current Range Examples

Retail Price:

Ref. 5370P—$274,410 (Starting preowned price—$215,000 approx.)

Ref. 5520P—$309,890 (Starting preowned price—$250,000 approx.)

Ref. 6102R—$311,080 (Starting preowned price—$220,000 approx.)

The Patek Philippe Golden Ellipse

Golden Ellipse - Designed by Gerald Genta

The Golden Ellipse – Designed by Gerald Genta

A range stemming from 1968, Patek actually drew on a 2,000-year old principle of aesthetic proportion to create and name their Golden Ellipse watches.

The brand took their lead from Euclid’s discovery of the Golden Section around 300BC. Described as being the perfect point at which to divide a line into imbalanced but harmonious lengths, it was later cemented by renaissance mathematician Luca Pacioli as the ratio of 1 to 1.6181. Patek took this as their basis when designing the Ellipse, creating an elongated circular case unlike anything else in their portfolio.

An instant hit, the series captured the imagination for its unique shape, its chic sophistication and its unisex appeal.

As with the Calatrava range, the Ellipse has retained its basic form for half a century or so it has been included in the Patek lineup. Some vintage pieces feature slightly altered profiles, with more cushion-shaped models or else the standard shape rotated to be wider than they are tall.

But all retain a natural elegance determined by their Euclidean geometry, and the modern series remains a highly sought-after example of beautifully realized dress watch design.

Buying a Patek Golden Ellipse

The current crop of Patek Philippe Golden Ellipse models houses only three watches; one in platinum with blue dial, another in rose gold with black dial and a very special white gold example with a hand-engraved arabesque face similar to that found on the Calatrava ref. 5088.

All are driven by self-winding mechanical movements, but on the vintage market you will find a number of quartz-powered pieces, some of the most inexpensive Patek Philippe watches available.

Preowned Vintage Examples

Approx. Starting Price:

Ref. 3838 (Quartz)—$7,000

Ref. 3581—$8,000

Ref. 3948—$12,000

Current Range Examples

Retail Price:

Ref. 5738R—$34,070 (Starting preowned price—$27,000 approx.)

Ref. 5738P—$55,830 (Starting preowned price—$45,000 approx.)

Ref. 5738/51G—$74,720 (Starting preowned price—$75,000 approx.)

The Patek Philippe Twenty~4

Patek Philippe Twenty 4

The Twenty~4 series is believed to be Patek’s bestselling collection currently, their first-ever series created exclusively for women.

Unveiled in 1999, making them also the most recent addition to the catalog, the Twenty~4 started out with an assortment of Cartier Tank-like models with cambered rectangular cases in either steel or any of the three golds; versatile enough, as the name suggests, to be worn on any and all occasions.

Those original pieces were all quartz-powered and featured distinctive integrated bracelets. However, in 2018, Patek added to the range by bringing in more traditional rounded versions, all with automatic mechanical movements.

While these new models share some design cues with the initial run of Twenty~4 watches—mainly in the style of bracelet—there are far more differences than similarities.

Firstly, the rectangular models measured just 25.1mm x 30mm and were simple two-handed timekeepers. The new circular range are all 36mm and include a seconds hand and a date function. And then there’s the expense. The latest pieces are more than twice the price of the quartz watches, like for like, with the combination of the self-winding movement, extra features and the setting of 160 diamonds into their bezels dramatically increasing their value.

Regardless though, the Twenty~4 has always been, and remains, a huge hit for Patek, and the preowned market is the perfect place to pick one up for a surprisingly low amount.

Buying a Patek Twenty~4

Both types of Patek Philippe Twenty~4 are striking in their own way, and each has enough variety in dial color and materials to cater to most people’s tastes. As with everything Patek does, elegance and style are always at the forefront and, with the original rectangular versions especially, you will try for a long time to find any watch with as much sophistication for less.

Preowned Examples

Approx. Starting Price:

Ref. 4910 (Steel, Quartz)—$7,500

Ref. 4907 (Yellow Gold, Quartz)—$8,000

Ref. 4920 (White Gold, Quartz)—$12,000

Current Range Examples

Retail Price:

Ref. 7300-1200—$27,800 (Starting preowned price—$22,400 approx.)

Ref. 7300-1200R—$48,500 (Starting preowned price—$37,200 approx.)

The Patek Philippe Gondolo

Like walking through Patek’s own museum, the Patek Philippe Gondolo collection is where the brand houses their ‘form’ watches; that is, those with non-round cases.

Although the range only originates from the 1990s, each one has drawn on some of the earliest vintage examples for their styling, and mainly from the Art Deco era.

As for the unusual name, that stems from Gondolo & Labouriau, a jeweler in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil with whom Patek enjoyed a long and profitable relationship between 1872 and 1927. So much so, in fact, that at one point the store-bought up approximately a third of the manufacture’s output.

Over the years, the Gondolo collection has seen some beautifully offbeat models, all with refreshingly eccentric profiles. Interestingly, the ref. 4824 and ref. 4825 from 1993 served as the inspiration for the Twenty~4 series, with their rectangular silhouette.

Today, the seven-strong assortment is a mixture of various unconventional structures, from small cushion-shaped pieces through to elegantly curved tonneau models, all awash with flawless diamonds.

Buying a Patek Gondolo

The Gondolo collection, past and present, contains both quartz and mechanical watches. As such, prices vary widely and it is possible to obtain one of these fine pieces for far less than you might imagine.

Preowned Examples

Approx. Starting Price:

Ref. 4824 (Quartz)—$7,000

Ref. 5014—$8,000

Ref. 4980—$12,000

Current Range Examples

Retail Price:

Ref. 7041R—$34,600 (Starting preowned price—$34,000 approx.)

Ref. 7042/100G—$225,700 (Starting preowned price—$165,000 approx.)

Ref. 7099G—$121,900 (Starting preowned price—$90,500 approx.)


The post The Evolution of the Patek Philippe Collection appeared first on Bob's Watches.

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