Patek Philippe: Luxury Watch Manufacturer

Many of today’s luxury watch brands were founded hundreds of years ago by master watchmakers. Patek Philippe is one such brand, prized by serious collectors worldwide for the precision and artistry of its pieces.

Who Is Patek Philippe?

The Patek Philippe brand of watches was founded by two master watchmakers—Antoni Patek and Adrien Philippe. Their combined last names form the brand name familiar to collectors today. The company launched in 1851 when the first Patek Philippe watches were displayed at the Great Exhibition in London.

The Great Exhibition was dedicated to the most modern and exciting inventions of that era. Patek Philippe watches were innovative, with gadgetry and gears new to the world of watches. Today, Patek Philippe is still known for modernity as well as elegant styling and quality.

Patek Philippe Ref. 5040J-014 Perpetual Calendar in 18K Gold. Achieved $23,750 at auction.

What Are the Best-Known Patek Philippe Luxury Watches?

Patek Philippe Nautilus Ref. 5712/1A - Fortuna NYC Fine Jewelry & Watch Auction
Patek Philippe Nautilus Ref. 5712/1A. Achieved $50,000 at auction.

Patek Philippe has several watches prized by serious watch collectors:

  • Sky Moon Tourbillon: This piece has a sky chart, perpetual calendar, moon phases and retrograde chart. The case back features the night sky with beautiful detail. This watch is also stunning, with hand-engraved volutes.
  • Henry Graves Supercomplication: Named after the banker Henry Graves Jr., this watch has 24 complications, more than any other mechanical pocket watch. In addition to a perpetual calendar, moon phases, sky chart and other features, the watch has chimes, including “Grande sonnerie” and “Petite sonnerie” with carillon as well as twin-barrel differential winding and other functions.
  • Nautilus: First launched in 1976, this is one of the most sought-after Patek Philippe watches. The Nautilus was designed by Gerald Genta and has a unique curved octagon bezel, resembling a ship’s porthole. The dial is embossed with distinctive horizontal grooves. Its introduction contributed greatly to the rise of a new category of watches: the steel luxury sports watch. In Fortuna’s September 2018 Important Watches sale, Fortuna offered a Patek Philippe Nautilus Ref. 5712/1A in Steel, one of Patek’s more complicated watches, with useful functions such as date, power reserve, moon phase, and sweep second indications. The watch achieved an impressive $50,000 at auction, doubling its starting bid.
  • The Grandmaster Chime: In 2019, this watch set the world record for the most expensive wristwatch after selling for about $31 million. It features 20 complications, a reversible case and two dials. This watch was introduced in 2014 as part of the brand’s 175th-anniversary celebration.
Patek Philippe Ellipse Gold Watch Ref. 3548/1. Achieved $6,875 at auction.

How to Sell a Patek Philippe Watch

When selling a Patek Philippe watch, there are multiple factors that can impact value, aside from working condition and material value. The rise of the vintage watch market combined with the storied, centuries-long brand of Patek Philippe has done wonders for the secondary market value of iconic Patek Philippe watches. Before selling your Patek timepiece, having a seasoned watch specialist inspect the watch first can make all the difference.

Fortuna has years of experience selling highly sought after Patek watches and is especially attuned to details that can affect value. Our watch specialists recognized this Patek Philippe Ref. 2526, pictured below, as being part of the first series of the reference—contributing immensely to its market value. Furthermore, the reference 2526 is widely considered to be Patek Philippe’s first automatic watch ever made, making it even more desirable to collectors. With the information uncovered by our specialists, this precious heirloom watch achieved $50,000 at Fortuna’s September 2018 Important Watches auction.  

Patek Philippe Ref. 2526 in 18K Gold With Bracelet

To get started selling your prized watches, fill out an online form or contact Fortuna at valuation@fortunaauction.com with details and images of the item for a free, no-obligation valuation. If you prefer an in-person valuation, you can email or call us during business hours at 212-389-9040.

If you’re looking for the perfect Patek Philippe timepiece, review Fortuna’s upcoming auctions. We carefully curate our selection of fine jewelry and luxury watches for collectors seeking rare finds. Our website even allows you to track lots so you can bid on the perfect piece once you find an item you like.

Ulysse Nardin Anchor Tourbillon Limited Carbon Dial in 18K White Gold.

Fortuna is excited to bring to auction a rare timepiece and marvel of horological innovation: the Ulysse Nardin Anchor Tourbillon Limited Carbon Dial in 18K White Gold. Conceived as a series of traditionally styled watches equipped with Ulysse Nardin’s proprietary mechanical movement and Anchor escapement, the timepiece is complete with an impressive tourbillon and 8-day power reserve, as well as unmatched craftsmanship and years of research behind the ingenious use of silicon in the movement. The carbon fiber dial adds a lot of depth and is nicely contrasted by the silver printing. The 44mm case also guarantees a handsomely grand presence on any wrist.

A closer look at the Anchor Tourbillon, the result of cutting edge innovation at Ulysse Nardin.

The real marvel behind the Ulysse Nardin Anchor Tourbillon watch is the Anchor escapement, a marriage of the best of watchmaking past with the technology of the future. Made by dedicated watchmakers and nanofabrication engineers alike, the Anchor escapement consists mostly of silicon parts, an unconventional material in the world of luxury watch making, but its resistance to magnetism and ability to be manufactured to a level of accuracy only possible with nanotechnology makes it the ideal material for horologists.

Ulysse Nardin pioneered the use of silicon technology in the escapement of its mechanical watches, drastically improving the regulation system of how a mechanical watch transfers energy in equal doses from the mainspring barrel onto the balance wheel. Silicon is extremely durable, yet surprisingly lightweight, and its replacement of metal and jeweled parts in the escapement creates a very low friction environment, resulting in better precision and time keeping accuracy of the watch. Unlike standard metal movements, silicon parts also do not require lubrication or constant maintenance. Furthermore, one of the biggest advantages of silicon is how technology can be utilized to manufacture pieces to extreme precision. The Anchor escapement incorporates silicon blades with the thickness of 15 micrometers, roughly one-tenth the thickness of a human hair, owed entirely to the silicon micro-machining technology of DRIE (Deep Reactive Ion Etching). After 7 years of research and development by Ulysse Nardin in achieving this new anchor escapement, you can rest assured that you are investing in a watch meant to last lifetimes.

Originally debuted in 2015, there are only eight versions of the Ulysse Nardin Anchor Tourbillon, featuring a variety of dials and case metals. Each model was released in extremely limited batches, with only 18 pieces ever created for each version. The present example is #13 of its 18 piece batch, with an 18K white gold case and carbon fiber dial, and originally retailed for $89,000. This luxury timepiece comes in classical design, housing innovative technology at the 6 o’clock hour marker, with the Tourbillon clearly visible. The Flying Tourbillon has no upper bridge to block your view, so you can be constantly mesmerized by the intricate mechanics which spin on its own axis for 60 seconds at a time. We hope the lucky buyer enjoys this horological tour de force for years to come.

Billie Holiday’s Diamond Watch Comes to Auction!

Fortuna is excited to auction a piece of American music history in our July Jewels & Watches sale—a dress watch owned by none other, than Billie Holiday. The Art Deco diamond-covered watch is set on a platinum bracelet with a silvered dial with Arabic numerals, and promises to be one of the most coveted pieces from our exciting sale.

Billie Holiday Fine Diamond Watch in Platinum

Billie Holiday was one of the greats, her contributions to jazz and swing music are as important vocally as they are socially. Billie, born Eleanora Fagan, had all the odds stacked against her since childhood. Born as the illegitimate child of two African American teens in Philadelphia in 1915, Billie would fight off every adversity imaginable. Her father left her and her mother when she was very young to pursue a career in jazz, so she was left to be raised by her mother and grandmother. Billie was moved to Harlem, New York at just 14 where her mother worked in a brothel, and Billie suffered as a victim of sex trafficking. Both she and her mother were subsequently sent to prison.

 Billie Holiday at Downbeat, NY (1947). Courtesy of William P. Gottlieb collection at the Library of Congress.

Upon her release, Billie began singing in Harlem nightclubs under the pseudonym Billie Holiday, taking her name from the actress Billie Dove, and Clarence Holiday, her presumed father. Billie’s life was enshrouded by a cloud of mystery and even today, long after her death, much is wondered about the acclaimed singer. Just as we have never been able to confirm her paternity, we cannot confirm some of her closest relations. Her watch seems to be gifted by a benefactor or patron to her career, and although it is engraved with “To Billie From David 1938,” nothing is known of her relationship with this David. But what is clear is that he knew Billie at a pivotal time in the singer’s life.

 “Lady Day is unquestionably the most important influence on American popular singing in the last 20 years.”

Frank Sinatra

Just one year later, Billie recorded the song “Strange Fruit,” one of the most moving and haunting songs of our time. Originally a poem about the horrors of lynchings in the American South, the song was brought to life with Billie’s emotive voice. Billie debuted the song at the historic, Café Society, the first truly integrated nightclub in the country, where black and white guests were treated equally, no matter who the performer. And it was quite possibly the only popular venue in America in which the song could be performed and sympathized with. As the song became a feature of Billie’s performances nationwide, it placed Billie and its creators in the crosshairs of the Federal Government. And despite being banned from multiple radio stations and even refused by Holiday’s label, Columbia Records, Billie Holiday’s delivery of “Strange Fruit” captured the American people and forced them to confront the reality of racism against Black folks.

“Holiday doesn’t sing songs; she transforms them.”

William Dufty, co-author of Lady Sings the Blues

The song remains as prevalent as ever today, being played at Black Lives Matter protests around the country and being sampled on a Kanye West’s track, “Blood on the Leaves.” Three-time Grammy-nominated artist, Betty LaVette released a cover of the song last month citing the current focus on racial tensions. And just last week, Paramount won the rights to the film “The United States vs. Billie Holiday,” what promises to be a blockbuster biopic on the singer’s life.

Portrait of Billie, wearing her iconic gardenias and posing with her dog, Mister. Courtesy of  William P. Gottlieb collection at the Library of Congress.

At first sight, this watch may be simply a beautiful piece of jewelry, masterfully crafted. Yet, it symbolizes so much more. Billie wore this watch at the height of her career and during America’s Jim Crow era. It was no easy feat for an African American woman born into poverty at the beginning of the twentieth century to find herself wearing a diamond watch as an adult. But unfortunately, the glamour and riches that Billie enjoyed as a singer was fleeting. While on stage, Billie was doused in diamonds, yet she died with mere pennies in her bank account—highlighting the discrepancies in fortune available to African American women in show business at the time.

However, Holiday left more behind than her meager estate; she left a legacy of talent and gumption that few singers that followed could match. Her accomplishments were not just made in spite of racial biases but by fighting them head-on. Billie was just as vocal about racial injustices off the stage as she was on, denouncing the death of her father to unequal treatment received in a hospital and the hypocrisy of being invited to sing in white nightclubs but never to dine in them.

Billie Holiday’s heart-rending voice in “Strange Fruit” has became the battle cry for racial equality and its impact has reverberated in the decades following. For her admirers who cherish not only what Billie Holiday has done for music and jazz, but also her stand against racial inequality, her diamond watch will be a true treasure, commemorating an era of American history—tarnished by civil injustices and full of boundaries being freshly broken.

Special Rolex Daytona Dials

Rolex was the official timekeeper of the car races in Daytona, Florida for the first time in 1962. One year later, the company launched its Cosmograph Reference 6239, a chronograph watch that evolved into the Daytona we all know and love today.

Many celebrities and watch collectors, including actor and racer Paul Newman, have been big fans of the Daytona. These watches were created specifically for car racers and have undergone many different styles in their 55-year history. And in the time before Rolex was completely vertically integrated in their production, vintage Daytonas are chockfull of design inconsistencies that have set the vintage watch world abuzz. We’ve put together a small list of some of our favorite Daytona dial variations that have grown significantly in value over the years.

Our Favorite Daytona Dials & What Makes Them So Special

The dial of a Rolex dramatically changes the aesthetic of the timepiece and is what really gives the watch character. Over time, Rolex Daytona watches have featured a number of unique dials that have become important for collectors.

Big Red vs. Small Red

Starting in 1970, Daytona references 6263 and 6265 were introduced, featuring large screw-down pushers that gave the watch a much more heavy-duty and larger appearance. These two references possessed a myriad of dial variations, with some dials that completely omitted the “Daytona” moniker. Of the dials that did include the “Daytona” text, the bright red serif fonts appear just above the middle sub-register in two font sizes: large or small. The Daytona “Big Red” and “Small Red” are both highly prized by collectors and comes in silver or black dials with contrasting sub-dials. Click here for more information on an example offered this April at auction!

Take a look at some examples of “Big Red” Daytona’s that Fortuna has offered at auction. The “Daytona” text extends well beyond the two hour markers on either side of the “12” in the sub-register. The text on “Small Red” Daytona’s do not extend as widely as the “Big Reds.”

Rolex Daytona “Big Red” Ref. 6265. Achieved $71,875 at Fortuna Auction (April 2018).
Rolex Daytona “Big Red” Ref. 6265 in Steel. Achieved $68,750 at Fortuna (April 2020)

Close-up of the “Big Red” dial, with the bold red “Daytona” text in a larger font-size

The Four-Line Daytona

In general, the circa 1988 Daytona reference 16520 is rare, with the early bezel graduated to 200 units per hour—prior to Rolex increasing the bezel to 400 units per hour to keep up with the faster drivers of the period. This Daytona followed the end of the porcelain dial automatic Daytona.

The “Four-Line” Daytona Ref. 16520—also referred to as the “Mark 2” dial—is an early run in which Rolex may have been testing fewer words on this dial than previous designs, so the watch reads “Superlative Chronometer” with “Officially Certified” noticeably missing. The ref. 16520 also features an upside-down “6” in the center sub-register, resembling a nine more than a six. This is considered a small design flaw which actually makes the piece more valuable to collectors.

Rolex “Four-Line” “Zenith” Daytona Ref. 16520. Achieved $43,750 at Fortuna Auction (September 2018).
Stainless steel bezel of Daytona Ref. 16520 is marked up to 200 units per hour.
Close-up of the “Four-Line” Daytona, with “Officially Certified” missing from the dial.

“Paul Newman” or Exotic Dial

Daytona’s with the “Paul Newman” dial don’t look like a Rolex watch at first glance. Singer was actually the manufacturer of this dial before Rolex made its components in-house. Originally called exotic dials, the designs feature large Art Deco numerals and used 15-30-45-60 markers in the seconds sub-dial, instead of the more typical 20-40-60. These dials also have square markers in the subsidiary registers and a bright red minute track surrounding the dial, making the watch look “funkier” compared to the minimalist dials found on the typical Daytona of the time. Click here for more information on a “Paul Newman” Daytona coming up for auction this April!

Though not initially popular, these dials received a second life once they were popularized by Paul Newman. Their extreme rarity also contributes to their significant rise in value over their years. In fact, Paul Newman’s own “Paul Newman” Daytona Ref. 6239 broke auction records when the wristwatch sold in 2017 for $17.8 million. The model is still commonly known today as the “Paul Newman” and is worth roughly 4-5 times more than the standard Ref. 6239, without the “Paul Newman” dial.

Rolex Paul Newman Daytona 6239 Black Dial - Fortuna Auction NYC
Rolex Daytona “Paul Newman” Ref. 6239, Lot 3005 in Fortuna’s April 2020 IMPORTANT WATCHES auction.
Close-up of the Daytona Ref. 6239 with the “Paul Newman” dial in black.
Close-up of the Daytona Ref. 6239 (same model), with the standard dial.

Patrizzi Dial

This version of the Daytona Ref. 16520 was nicknamed after Osvaldo Patrizzi, a watch auctioneer who first appreciated and spoke about the unique color-change on this dial of the Rolex Daytona, in which the silver sub-dials achieve an attractive brown color over time.

Rolex Daytona “Patrizzi Dial” Ref. 16520, achieved $31,250 at Fortuna IMPORTANT WATCHES (September 2018).

What makes the Patrizzi Dial unique is that roughly between 1994 and 1995, Rolex used Zapon varnish to protect the face of the black dials. The varnish proved to not offer adequate protection, and the effects of UV and oxidation turned the silver dials brown. The watches gain a deeper shade with time, and no two watches have aged the same way, so color variations make each piece unique.

Today, collectors especially prize this earlier version of the Ref. 16520, especially since Rolex made very few of them for its imperfect dial. Like the “Four-Line” Daytona, the six is upside down in the hours sub-register, making it appear as a nine—yet another design flaw.

The “Patrizzi” dial is one of the most sought-after design anomalies in vintage Rolexes.

Close-up of the “Patrizzi” dial, with the brown coloration in the sub-register rims.

Zenith Daytona’s

Rolex wasn’t always the vertically integrated company we know today. In fact, earlier Daytona’s all utilized movements that were outsourced by other manufacturers. Rolex’s first automatic Daytona was powered by Zenith movements. They were discontinued in 2000 but are admired by collectors, in part because they have the sub-register of running seconds at nine o’clock, a dial design which was seen with original Daytonas.

Rolex “Zenith” Daytona, Ref. 16518, in 18K yellow gold case. Achieved $18,750 at Fortuna Auction (June 2018).

The release of the “Zenith” Daytona in 1988 increased the size of dials to 40mm, up from 37, and included a lacquered finish. These were the first Daytona’s to receive sapphire crystals and crown guards. They also came in a range of 18K gold cases, becoming a popular choice for dress watches among distinguished men—far from the racing origins of the Daytona Rolex.

Daytonas with “Zenith” movements has the running seconds sub-register positioned at 9 o’clock.

Daytonas powered by Rolex’s in-house caliber 4130 have the seconds and hour sub-registers swapped.

If you’ve been looking for the perfect vintage timepiece to invest in, whether it’s a Rolex Daytona or not, head over to our upcoming auctions page to keep an eye on our future watch sales or subscribe to our Watches Newsletter below to hear about our latest acquisitions.

Rolex Paul Newman Daytona Ref. 6239-Fortuna Auction Important Watches

Click Here to Subscribe to our Watches Newsletter

Be the first to receive updates on upcoming watch sales, recent acquisitions, and the latest insights on watch collecting from Fortuna’s watch specialists.

Rolex Daytona “Paul Newman” Ref. 6239 in Steel | April 2020 Important Watches

Paul Newman wearing his own Rolex Daytona Ref. 6239

Paul Newman wearing his own Rolex Daytona Ref. 6239 (Photo by Douglas Kirkland/Corbis via Getty Images).

Fortuna is happy to give you a closer look at a prized highlight from our upcoming Important Watches sale, the Rolex Daytona “Paul Newman” Ref. 6239 in Steel.

The “Paul Newman” is one of the most desirable and valuable of vintage sport watches. Rolex unveiled the first Daytona watch in the early 1960s and named it after the famous raceway. A subset of these watches, with the distinctive “exotic” dial, came to be associated with the American icon, Paul Newman, who is known and revered for his many pursuits, from his acting to his philanthropy, and most importantly his career as a professional race car driver. Paul’s wife gifted him the watch and he became quite fond of it, seen wearing it often—on and off the racetrack.

Read More

Richard Mille RM-07 Ladies’ Watch in 18K White Gold | December 2019 Important Watches

One of the highlights in our Important Watches auction, this sublime, nearly mint condition, Richard Mille RM-07 Ladies’ Watch in 18K White Gold was offered for an estimated $50,000 and achieved $93,750, more than tripling its starting bid. Richard Mille is one of the most desired and groundbreaking modern watch brands. Their watches are iconoclastic in design, use manufacture movements and have been popularized by countless style icons, celebrities, and professional sports players.

Read More
paul newman

Rolex Daytona “Paul Newman”: What It Is and Why It’s So Valuable

Paul Newman’s Rolex Daytona is something of a legend in the watch community. Newman’s iconic wristwatch singlehandedly saved an entire series of Daytona watches, before setting records itself when it sold. In a high-profile auction, the 1968 Oyster Cosmograph Daytona Paul Newman wore over the decades sold for $17.5 million, setting the record for the highest price ever recorded for a wristwatch to date.

Not only is the original watch Newman wore highly valuable, but it has also raised the value of similar models of Daytona watches. As an example, a watch of the same reference number as Newman’s Daytona recently sold for $275,000 at auction.


Who Is Paul Newman & Why Is the “Paul Newman” Daytona So Valuable?

Paul Newman, the famous American actor and philanthropist, starred in classic films like Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, The Color of Money, The Sting and Cool Hand Luke. Many people know him for his movies, but he also put his stamp on history as a professional race car driver and getting a collection of Rolexes to carry his namesake.

Read More

Cartier Crash Watch 1991 Limited Edition | December 2019 Important Watches

The Cartier Crash is one of the most iconic watches made by the legendary jeweler. The original Crash was made by Cartier craftsmen in the UK after seeing a colleague’s watch that was badly melted in a car accident. The resulting Crash reminded many of Salvador Dali’s surrealist watches in one of his most well known works, “The Persistance of Memory,” and a legend was born that is associated with the “Swinging London” of the 1960s. 

Read More

Rolex Daytona “Paul Newman” Ref. 6239 | December 2019 Important Watches

The Important Watches collection is led by an exceedingly rare and fresh-to-market Rolex Daytona “Paul Newman” Ref. 6239, known amongst watch enthusiasts as the most desirable and valuable vintage sport watches. It will be offered for an estimate of $150,000–$250,000 at auction. Famously worn by the actor and race car enthusiast, the watch has become just as legendary as the man who it is associated with.

Read More
Building Your Ultimate Watch Collection - Special Interview with Greg Selch and Eric Wind

Building Your Ultimate Watch Collection, with Greg Selch and Eric Wind

We here at Fortuna Auction are excited to present a special interview with Greg Selch and Eric Wind, both established watch collectors who have grown very successful in their hunt for vintage watches of significance. We hope that all collectors, new or experienced, will find their tips and tricks in finding the perfect vintage timepiece particularly insightful.