Today we are comparing two haut de gamme watch companies, Patek Philippe and Vacheron Constantin.
We are going to put these two iconic brands head-to-head to answer one of the most difficult questions in the horological world – “which is better, Patek vs Vacheron?”
This is a question we are often asked, yet the answer is never easy. This is the type of questions that can be full of different contexts. There are so many aspects to consider when comparing a watch brand. For instance, craftsmanship, finishing, complications, history, prestige, resale value, and more. Moreover, a lot of what makes a watch better comes down to personal preference.
As the old adage goes, “beauty is in the eye of the beholder”.
So, the easiest way for us to answer this question and create an all-star match up is to break the comparison and question down into the following categories.
- Entry Price
- Most Noteworthy Watches (most expensive)
- Other Factors to Consider
This is going to be an epic comparison given the status of both Patek Philippe and Vacheron Constantin. After all, they make up two-thirds of the Holy Trinity. So dive in with an open mind, and learn everything you need to know to make your final decision on “which is better, Patek or Vacheron?”
The Holy Trinity
So, what exactly is the Holy Trinity of watchmaking you ask?
The Holy Trinity, sometimes referred to as The Big Three, consists of the three most luxurious Swiss watchmakers: Audemars Piguet, Patek Philippe, and Vacheron Constantin.
These three companies did not only rightfully earned their place as the Big Three, but they also established it. They all share some impressive similarities.
Firstly, the three brands have been around for a long time, especially when comparing other top Swiss watch brands. Furthermore, their heritage has been very distinguished and all three have been in operation continually since their founding.
Secondly, since their early beginnings, AP, PP, and VC have consistently delivered gorgeous timepieces with impressive technical ability, and they have never dabbled at lower market levels.
Above all, Audemars Piguet, Patek Philippe, and Vacheron Constantin have all played an extremely important role in the watch industry and have pushed the boundaries of watchmaking both in craftsmanship and history as no other watch brands have. Therefore, they are the Holy Trinity of Watchmaking.
Patek vs Vacheron – The Comparison of Centuries
Now, let us begin the comparison…
History & Achievements
Patek Philippe was founded in 1839 in Geneva, Switzerland. Since day one, Patek Philippe has been one of the most admired watchmakers in the industry. Certainly, their history is rich, full of many outstanding achievements. For example, inventing the first mainspring, inventing the wristwatch, and producing the world’s most complicated wristwatches.
In regards to ownership, the founders, Antoine Patek and Adrien Philippe, passed on the business to Adrien Philippe’s son in 1894, at the time when Adrien Philippe passed away. His son ran the company for three decades, then the company was sold to the Stern Brothers. This was in 1932. The Stern Family has owned Patek Philippe ever since, and they have done a remarkable job keeping the legacy fully intact and the brand on top of the game. Furthermore, Patek is still an Independent company, which many people praise.
Overall, Patek Philippe has a long, unremitting, impeccable history. They have continually innovated, setting the highest standards and helping to form the high-end watchmaking industry into what it is today.
Vacheron Constantin was founded in 1755 and is the oldest Swiss watch brand that has been continuously in business. That means they’ve been crafting their astonishing watches ceaselessly for 264 years as of date. What’s more, they have never wavered from their core values. Certainly, one could argue that this makes Vacheron’s history the most impressive of all Swiss watch brands.
In terms of heritage, when comparing them with Patek, they have 84 years on Patek Philippe, who is also a historical brand, which is mind-blowing. That’s four generations the senior to Patek. So, does that makes Vacheron the true OG? Most would say so.
Patek Philippe comes with an immense amount of status. A Patek Philippe watch is respected by everyone, watch connoisseurs and the average person alike. Patek is the 3rd most recognizable Swiss watch brand across the globe, only behind the more affordable mainstream brands that are Rolex and Omega.
Many people call Patek Philippe the “Rich Man’s Rolex”.
They’ve been in business for such a long time but they still manage to become more and more popular year after year. This is in part to smart ambassadorships with popular icons and their ability to keep on innovating and crafting impeccably charming, sophisticated, beautiful watches.
In 2016, Patek’s value was at 1.9 billion dollars. However, this number may be much higher now as reports from January 2019 showed they may be up for sale for close to $8 billion.
Vacheron ranks in at number 15 on the most recognizable Swiss watch brands in the world. It’s pretty common knowledge among watch collectors that Vacheron is highly underrated in terms of recognition and appreciation. In other words, they simply don’t get the recognition from the average person that they deserve. This is surprising as they are part of the Holy Trinity, after all.
Nevertheless, Vacheron still carries a tremendous amount of brand prestige, especially among adept watch collectors. What a lot of people love about Vacheron is that they make some of the finest watches in the world, and they are not Rolex or Patek Philippe. They have never pushed their marketing in the same way. So, many people like that Vacheron is less recognizable to the average layman. It’s kind of like being part of a small private club.
In 2016, Vacheron’s value was 800 million dollars.
Patek Philippe has invented over 20 calibres and has created over 100 patents.
Some of the most important innovations are as follows:
- Created the first swiss wristwatch (1868)
- Patented a perpetual calendar mechanism for pocket watches (1889)
- Patented the double chronograph (1902)
- Produced the world’s first lady’s wristwatch with complication (1916)
- Launched the world’s first split-second chronograph wristwatch (1923)
- Created the world’s first perpetual calendar wristwatch (1925)
- Created the most complicated mechanical watch in the world with 24 complications (the watch was the Henry Graves Supercomplication and it held this position from 1933-1989, at which Patek made a new watch that was the most complicated in the world)
- Patented the Gyromax balance.
- Their tourbillon movement achieves the world’s timekeeping precision record for mechanical watches, and is still unbeaten (1962)
- Created the most complicated mechanical watch in the world, with 33 complications (the watch was the Calibre 89, and this position was held from 1989-2015)
- Patented the annual calendar mechanism (1996)
- Launched the world’s first silicon-based escapement wheel (2003)
- Introduced the silicon-based Spiromax balance spring (2006)
- Introduced the Pulsomax silicon-based escapement (2008)
- Created the Grandmaster Chime Ref. 5175, which is one of the world’s most complicated wristwatches with 20 complications (2014).
Here are some of the most noteworthy achievements by Vacheron Constantin:
- Created the world’s first watch complication (1970)
- Created a jumping hour watch (1824)
- Introduced the first “nonmagnetic” timepiece (1885)
- Produced the world’s thinnest manual winding movement , the Calibre 1003 (1955)
- Created the world’s thinnest minute repeater, the Calibre 1755 (1992)
- Created the most complicated mechanical watch/pocket watch ever made in the world, with 57 complications (2015)
Entry level for a new Patek Philippe watch is going to cost around $18-19,000. So, this will be for a Calatrava model, such as the 5119G, or an Aquanaut.
Entry level for a new Vacheron Constantin watch is going to be around $11,000. So, this will be for a Vacheron Constantin FIFTYSIX self-winding watch. In addition, Vacheron’s new entry-level collection FIFTYSIX offers a few watches sub $20,000.
Most Noteworthy Watches (Most Expensive)
Wristwatches – Firstly, Patek Philippe Star Calibre 2000 ref 990/1 was sold for 3.28 million USD at auction, AND secondly, the Patek Philippe res 1518 (stainless steel, of which only four were ever made) sold for 11.14 million USD at auction in 2016.
Pocket Watch – The Henry Graves Supercomplication sold for a record breaking 23.8 million uSD in 2014.
Wristwatch – The Vacheron Constantin Kallista is valued at $11 million dollars as of 2016. The watch has 118 emerald cut diamonds and took about 6,000 hours for master watchmakers to create this watch and around 20 months for master jewelers to enrich it.
Pocket Watch – Vacheron Constantin pocket watch ref 402833 (made in 1929), which was owned by King Fuad I of Egypt, sold for 2.77 million USD in 2005.
Other Factors to Consider:
- Patek has stronger brand recognition and their watches are higher in demand. So, their Resale Value is higher.
- Patek is elegant, minimalistic, refined, with incredible finishing and impressive complications and movement precision
- On the other hand, Vacheron is more masculine, especially when comparing the dress watches.
- Vacheron offers more personalized services like engraving and can build complications on demand.
- Patek has much stronger marketing, so they appeal to the masses. Albeit, the rich masses. Conversely, Vacheron doesn’t, so they have a very niche following.
- Patek produces around 50,000 watches per year. And, Vacheron produces around 20,000 watches per year.
- Patek is independent, while Vacheron’s parent company is Richemont.
Patek Philippe’s notable patrons: The Beatles, Eric Clapton, Pablo Picasso, Elizabeth Taylor, Andy Warhol, Walt Disney, JP Morgan, Albert Einstein, 14th Dalai Lama, Pope Pius XI, Pope Leo XII, Vladimir Putin, JFK, LBJ, Queen Victoria, Prince Albert, Prince Charles, Queen Elizabeth, Farouk King of Egypt, and many more.
Vacheron’s notable patrons: Jay Z, Marlon Brando, Elizabeth Taylor, John D Rockefeller, Wright Brothers, Pope Pius XI, Harry S Truman, and many more.
To Sum it Up
So, when it comes down to “which is better, Patek Philippe or Vacheron Constantin?” it really is a matter of personal preference. It’s not likely that you are looking to buy one of these watches to later sell. In short, you are looking to keep them for generations to come, as both brands’ timepieces are heirloom watches.
Thus, it really is up to you which is better. So choose the brand that calls to you. You can’t go wrong with Patek Philippe or Vacheron Constantin.
Where to buy Patek Philippe and Vacheron Constantin watches
At Diamonds by Raymond Lee in Boca Raton, we sell both new and pre-owned Patek Philippe and Vacheron Constantin watches.
What’s more, we offer the most competitive prices in the market and all of our watches are in excellent condition.
About Us – Diamonds By Raymond Lee
Diamonds by Raymond Lee is Boca Raton’s most recommended sales and service centers for watches, diamonds, and high-end jewelry. We have over 30 years of experience selling fine certified luxury watches. As a result, we have built an unparalleled reputation for fair, quality dealings in South Florida.
Above all, our goal is to meet the needs of our customers at our Boca Raton retail store and online and to provide our community with the best possible experience. We combine value, quality, and cost with the remarkable ability to meet and understand the needs of the people we serve.
So, if you live in Boca Raton, please feel free to drop by our showroom anytime!
Diamond By Raymond Lee’s Showroom in Boca Raton, Florida:
2801 N Federal Hwy, Boca Raton, FL 33431