Patek Philippe bucks cooling watch demand with price increase

Patek Philippe SA, the family-owned Swiss brand coveted by high-end watch collectors, raised prices across its model lines, bucking an industry trend toward slowing the rate of increases.

Patek Philippe introduced the first Grand Complication in its "contemporary casual" line for ladies, Aquanaut Luce last year. This Haute Joaillerie minute repeater is paved with 130 baguette-cut diamonds (8.66 cts) on the dial and 779 multicolored baguette-cut sapphires (45.05 cts) forming a rainbow on the bezel, case sides and bracelet using the sophisticated "invisible setting" technique.

The Geneva-based company, known for its Grand Complications, Calatrava dress watch and Nautilus sports models, increased prices by an average of about 7 per cent on 1 February, according to information on its website. The price of the 5236 perpetual calendar model in platinum, for example, climbed to £121,100 (€141,512) from £113,330.

The Patek price increases show the company expects it has sufficient brand and pricing power to offset rising input costs and a strong Swiss franc without hurting demand for its timepieces.

A Patek Philippe spokesperson confirmed the February hikes and said they were effective across all model lines and regions, declining to give further information.

Swiss watchmakers increased prices aggressively amid an unprecedented boom during and coming out of the pandemic, but the industry is now facing a slowdown in demand as well-heeled consumers pull back. Johann Rupert, the chairman and controlling shareholder of Richemont, owner of the Cartier and Vacheron Constantin brands, said in November that luxury goods makers may not be able to raise prices for two years.

Swatch Group AG, the maker of Omega and Breguet, said last month its price increases in 2023 weren’t enough to offset the strength of the Swiss franc.

The Patek price hike follows a move by industry giant Rolex in January to raise prices on some models in the UK by about 4 per cent while leaving US prices unchanged.

Rolex produces more than 1 million watches a year while Patek makes about 70,000.

Patek also discontinued several models in its lineup, including the popular Aquanaut Travel Time in stainless steel, according to watch enthusiast website Hodinkee.