Searching for Vintage Patek Philippe Perfection


If you’re searching for vintage Patek Philippe perfection, I can get you pointed in the right direction. You don’t need to be a multi-millionaire with an unlimited budget for the finest vintage watches to own something truly unique and valuable.

One of the things I love about Patek Philippe is their mentality that each watch could last not just one lifetime but many lifetimes. When you begin to explore the vintage Patek Philippe watch market, it’s hard not to notice this mentality showing through each watch.

The company motto, “You never actually own a Patek Philippe, you merely look after it for the next generation.”

Whether it’s from the 1800s or the 1970s, a vintage Patek Philippe encompasses the finest craftsmanship you can find in a watch. When you own a vintage Patek Philippe, you can rest assured knowing it was assembled by the best in the world.

Patek Philippe Ref. 1578 GM, 1956

These vintage Patek Philippe watches were known as “GM” watches for General Motors, the auto company. They were given as gifts to executives in the early 1950s for various accomplishments throughout the company.

I love the company-branded watches for a few reasons. First and foremost, they were usually produced in low volume and handed out to only a few of the top executives or highest producing sales managers at the time. Check out the incredible Dominos Rolex if you’ve never seen it, one of my favorite vintage watches of all-time.

I love the vintage promotional watch because they are not re-sold as often as a typical vintage watch. This is purely speculation on my part, but I’m guessing the owners of these watches are more likely to hold onto these timepieces, as they were special awards for outstanding service. It’s less likely owners of these watches will sell them, as they are very personal and signify an appreciation from their employer for a huge amount of dedication and hard work.

vintage patek philippe 1578 gm
This vintage Patek Philippe “General Motors” watch is from 1954, and one of only 20 black dialed Ref. 1578 watches ever produced. Image credit – Sothebys

Lastly, I love the company-branded vintage watches because they can be tracked easily. There’s usually a verifiable history and story as to why a company such as General Motors decided to hand out such fine watches to their employees. Not only that, but oftentimes they were engraved with the name of each recipient. This makes the watch truly original and unique—an actual “one-of-one” vintage watch.

patek philippe vintage
The company-branded, promotional watches are some of the coolest vintage Patek Philippe finds out there, in my opinion. Usually stamped or engraved with the original owner’s name. This General Motors example from the mid-1950s belonged to “W.L. Westman,” and I’m sure they were extremely proud of this watch for many years. Image credit – Sothebys.

Patek Philippe Ref. 3483

The vintage Patek Philippe Ref. 3483 is a great-looking watch. This watch featured below was produced in 1963 and was one of only 500 produced during that time period. One of the things that I love about this Calatrava is the steel case. Most Calatrava’s were made from precious metal, making the steel a rare find.

The Ref. 3483 Calatrava is a manual wind watch with sweep seconds. A watch similar to the example pictured below sold for $29,000 and was described to be in overall excellent condition for a 60-year-old watch.

vintage patek calatrava
This is a great looking steel Calatrava from 1963. One of my favorite

Patek Philippe Ref. 3445

Another great automatic vintage Patek Philippe watch to consider is the 1963 era yellow gold Calatrava.

vintage Patek Philippe
The 1963 vintage Patek Philippe Calatrava, currently selling for nearly $20,000 on eBay.

More Expensive Patek Philippe Vintage Watches

If you have a bigger budget and you’re looking for higher-end, more expensive vintage watches, Patek also has you covered. One of the great things about vintage watch collecting is you can spend just a few hundred dollars or millions of dollars on a great vintage watch. There’s something for everyone.

When you’re budget grows, a super high-end vintage Patek might be exactly what you’re looking for. Here’s a list of Patek’s that have sold recently and a link to the source. Owning one of these amazing watches would be a thrill, to say the least.

Recent Patek Auctions and Re-Sales

Patek Philippe 570 – sold in 1938 for a retail price of $250. Current sales price of $17,200.

Patek Philippe 1463 – nearly 800 pieces were created of the Patek Philippe Ref. 1463 over the course of 30 years from 1940 to 1969. Offered by Sotheby’s auction house for $140,000.

Patek Philippe 1518 – original retail price of $1,500 in 1941. Only 281 examples were produced from 1941 to 1954. Now valued at over $140,000.

Patek Philippe 2526 – 3,000 pieces were created during the mid-1950s. An 18k yellow gold with porcelain dial is offered on eBay, currently asking $72,650.

This is a super cool video featuring the Patek Philippe Grandmaster Chime, one of the most expensive watches in the world.

Patek Philippe 3417 – nearly 500 examples of the Patek Philippe 3417 were produced from 1959 to 1968. Christie’s auction house sold a stainless steel anti-magnetic Ref. 3417 for nearly $70,000 about two years ago.

Patek Philippe 3448 – selling for $2,650 in 1962, the Patek Philippe Ref. 3448 was a self-winding perpetual calendar. This incredible vintage watch sold for over $700,000 at a June 2020 Phillips auction.

Patek Philippe 3700 – with a 1976 original retail price of $3,750, the Patek Philippe Ref. 3700 was a large steel watch that’s gaining much popularity in the vintage Patek Philippe lineup over the last few years. A 1982 model recently sold for $55,000.

Patek Philippe 3940 – In 1985, Patek debuted the Ref. 3940 watch as an ultra-slim perpetual calendar. Recently, a 3940G sold at a Christie’s auction for $50,000.

Patek Philippe 3605 – originally sold for $10,000 in 1971. A yellow gold oval automatic model from 1977 recently sold at a Sotheby’s auction for $10,000.

Enjoy The Vintage Watch Collecting Journey

Vintage Patek Philippe watches can still be found for bargain prices if you know where to search. The market for luxury vintage watches has been growing over the last few years, but the highly fragmented vintage watch market can be a gold mine of opportunity.

Enjoy the journey of vintage watch collecting. There’s literally a watch for every price point, style, and preference out there. Be patient, and don’t be discouraged if you missed your chance on a great watch. There’s always another deal coming right around the corner.

“You never actually own a Patek Philippe, you merely look after it for the next generation.”

Mothers and fathers might own a Patek and envision passing it down to their children one day. But a vintage Patek Philippe watch doesn’t need to stay in the same family to have special meaning to the next owner. A Patek watch is something to cherish, whether you personally knew the previous owner or not. From place to place, the watch itself travels through time, bringing along all its moments and the dedicated watchmakers who designed it.

This video moves a little slow at the beginning but hang in there, it contains great information if you’re starting your search for a vintage Patek Philippe.