How Swiss Watchmaker Patek Philippe Handcrafts Its Famous $500,000 Watches

making of a patek phillipe watch bloomberg

Patek Philippe watches are some of the most coveted timepieces on the planet.

Not only is each one hand assembled, but they’re also made with the finest materials and can take a year to put together.

But owning the most luxurious watch in the world is going to cost you: The split-second chronograph version is $500,000.

And even if you could afford the outrageous price tag, they’re not easy to come by since Patek Philippe only makes 50,000 of its watches per year. That’s compared to competing Swiss brand Rolex, which pumps out 700,000 of its flashy timepieces annually.

Bloomberg TV recently visited the watch-making lab of the famous Swiss brand and took an inside look at how the watches are put together. You can watch their full video here.

Patek Philippe is a famous Swiss luxury watch manufacturer founded in 1851. It's widely considered to be the most prestigious watch brand in the world.

Source: Bloomberg TV

Its split-second chronograph watches are immensely popular, with each one costing $500,000. Patek Philippe only makes 50,000 of its watches every year (that's 14 times less than competitor Rolex).

Source: Bloomberg TV

That's because the watches they produce are incredibly complicated — it takes 12 months for the craftsman to build.

Source: Bloomberg TV

And it's not surprising why: 252 individual parts are used to create the luxury timepiece.

Source: Bloomberg TV

Plus, they're all assembled by hand.

Source: Bloomberg TV

The bulk of the work is done in the Patek Philippe factory, where craftsman carefully assemble each watch at a work station.

Source: Bloomberg TV

They follow a very precise blueprint to make sure they place every piece in the correct position.

Source: Bloomberg TV

Some of the parts are so small that they're nearly impossible to see with the naked human eye. They all must fit at precise angles in order to keep perfect time.

Source: Bloomberg TV

In addition to putting the watches together, the watch makers must also test the product to make certain it's in working order.

Source: Bloomberg TV

Because even the smallest mislaid gear can cause the $500,000 watch not to function.

Source: Bloomberg TV

Of course, technology now exists that precisely cuts and helps mould the fine gears of the watch.

Source: Bloomberg TV

The base plate of the watch is cut by a high-tech laser with a computer for the ultimate accuracy.

Source: Bloomberg TV

The modern technology helps insure that all of the watch parts are uniform, making them easier to work with.

Source: Bloomberg TV

But hand assembly remains extremely important to the company since it mixes the traditional with the innovative and maintains the brand's unique heritage.

Source: Bloomberg TV

Which ultimately only adds to the allure of the $500,000 Patek Philippe watch.

Source: Bloomberg TV

Some Patek Philippes sell for way more than $500,000.

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