How to Authenticate a Patek Philippe Watch

How to Authenticate a Patek Philippe Watch

Owning a Patek Philippe watch means owning something shaped by heritage, exclusivity and unmatched craftsmanship. It’s an iconic brand in high demand, with a limited number of pieces that never quite meet the market’s quantity needs.

Because these rare watches are so highly sought after, both by collectors and investors, it’s all too tempting to rip off a Patek. 

Counterfeits are rife across the marketplace. That means, if you’re looking for a used Patek Philippe, it’s important to know how to check its authenticity. If you get stung, you’ll end up with something worth a lot less than you paid for it, and something that won’t appreciate in value as the years go on.

Luckily, there are ways to spot a fake Patek watch. Go through the following Patek Philippe authenticity checks and you’ll know you have a true timekeeping masterpiece on your hands.

How do I authenticate my Patek watch?

Paperwork, packaging and certificates aside, the most obvious Patek Philippe authenticity check involves examining the watch itself.

The craftsmanship of a Patek sets it apart, even in the luxury watch space. The watchmaker goes to extreme lengths to achieve unbelievable precision and attention to detail. Each part is hand-finished and decorated to a meticulous standard. 

But that doesn’t mean it’s always easy to spot a fake.

Counterfeiters have studied Patek Philippe watches so closely that, unless you know where to look, it can be difficult to know how to authenticate a Patek Philippe watch.

Work through the following steps to better understand whether your Patek is real.

Step 1

Check the quality of the metal

Every Patek watch is made with only the highest quality of each metal - whether that’s 18ct gold or platinum (or, on occasion, stainless steel).

Metal deformities on a Patek don’t exist.

Counterfeit watches might look like a good match at first glance because they focus more on appearance than quality. In terms of quality, they could never meet the standards of an authentic Patek Philippe.

So look for imperfections. Even the tiniest blemish could indicate a fake watch manufactured with cheaper materials.


Look at the case and inside the case back

This is a detail that’s often overlooked by counterfeiters, so it’s a central part of any Patek Philippe authenticity check. Most watchmakers engrave the serial number on the case back’s outer side, but Patek doesn’t. So, if you notice an engraved serial number on the case back’s outer side, it’s likely (but not definitely) a fake.

Instead, Patek Philippe engraves serial numbers inside the case back when the case is solid. For watches with transparent backs, you’ll find the model and serial numbers engraved around the interior edges.


Check the dial and crown

A closer look at the dial and crown could help you distinguish between a real Patek and a rip-off.

Start by examining the font. Patek Phillipe watches all feature the brand’s unique font and specific size, and the letters are clean and evenly spaced. And, it goes without saying that everything is spelled correctly.

Genuine Pateks also don’t showcase visible balance wheels or tourbillons on the dial, unless it’s a skeletonised model. 

Now take a closer look at the dial. Is there a single small diamond set between the lugs at the 6 o’clock mark? This is a sign of a genuine platinum Patek watch, so is only true for some models. If the diamond looks oversized or is missing on a platinum model altogether, you’ve found yourself a fake.

You can also grab a Loupe to check the crown. On a real Patek Philippe watch, the crown is perfectly etched. If the design looks spotty or is missing detail, that’s a huge red flag for the timepiece’s authenticity.


Weigh the watch

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Check the bracelet

The bracelet of a genuine Patek watch is made of 18ct gold or platinum, and contains a bracelet code & a hallmark.

Straps are leather or composite, and feature the brand’s logo and Calatrava Cross (an emblem of the Order of the Knights of Calatrava, which Patek trademarked in 1887).

You’ll also spot the logo on buckles and the Calatrava Cross on deployment clasps.


Take a look at the diamonds

If your watch contains diamonds, they should have excellent clarity and consistency.

Look out for blemishes or inclusions, and diamonds of different shapes and sizes. That’s a definite sign of a counterfeit Patek.


Look at the screws

While many Swiss brands “blue” their screws to increase their corrosion resistance, Patek Philippe never does. If you can see blued-out screws, the Patek in your hand isn’t authentic.

Classic signs of a fake Patek Philippe

You can usually authenticate a luxury watch at home. However, some counterfeiters have mastered their craft, making it difficult to distinguish between a fake and a genuine.

Here are some of the more obvious signs of a fake Patek Philippe on the watch itself:

  • It contains pushers that don’t work.
  • You can see the inner workings and they don’t have the same level of detail as the real thing. 
  • There’s no hallmark indicating the purity of the metal on the case back, such as 750 or 950.
  • There’s no PPCo hallmark. This is the responsibility hallmark required by law on Swiss precious metal goods. You’ll find it within an oval design.
  • There’s no St. Bernard’s dog’s head on the case back (a national hallmark for Swiss watches).

How do I find my Patek Philippe serial number?

Since Patek doesn’t place serial numbers on the visible side of the case back, we have to look in other places when carrying out a Patek Phillipe authentication. Namely, inside the case back for models with a solid case back, and on the interior edges of transparent case backs.

Despite them not being featured externally, serial numbers play a key role in confirming the authenticity of a Patek Philippe. 

The movement number also lives in the case back of your timepiece (engraved in the movement itself).

However, don’t jump in to check the numbers. Ask a trusted watch dealer in London to remove the case back and read the serial and movement numbers for you. If the case back is transparent, you should be able to read the serial number yourself.

How do I authenticate my Patek Philippe online?

If a watch is more than 10 years old, you can request an Extract from the Archives from the Patek Philippe website.

This costs 500 Swiss francs (around £437) but can provide solid proof of an authentic Patek. If photos of your watch match the description held by the company, you’ll receive your Extract. If not, the watch could be counterfeit. 

Just keep in mind that this document can’t be officially considered as proof of authenticity -  good to know if you ever want to sell your watch.

Patek Philippe Certificate of Authenticity: Paperwork & packaging

If you are buying a Patek Philippe watch that has its original paperwork and packaging, you will need to look for the below.

The original paperwork should include a Certificate of Origin, which is effectively your Patek Philippe certificate of authenticity. It includes all the important details - from movement and calibre to the original date of purchase - so make sure the information on the certificate matches your watch.

And, just to complicate the authenticity process, check that the certificate itself is authentic. Search online to find out what a Certificate of Origin looks like, and look for any obvious discrepancies. Otherwise, take it to a watch dealer who can confirm authenticity for you.

If a Certificate of Origin is lost, it unfortunately can’t be re-issued by Patek Philippe. 

If you receive your Patek timepiece in genuine packaging, this is another simple way to determine its authenticity. Of course, authentic second-hand watches can be sold without the original branded material, so don’t discount a watch’s authenticity if it’s missing the original box.

How to be confident your new Patek Philippe is real

The best way to know you’re buying a real Patek Philippe is to purchase from a reputable dealer. Where possible, choose watches with their original paperwork and packaging.

A reputable retailer, like Trilogy Jewellers, will only ever sell genuine timepieces. We’d be happy to prove authenticity to you, so you can be confident you’re buying a Patek that will be an asset to your collection.

Get a Patek Philipe authenticity check at Trilogy

If you’ve carried out the authenticity checks, from examining the watch to checking the paperwork, but you still have doubts, bring your Patek to Trilogy.

We can carry out a professional authentication, whether you’re buying a second-hand Patek or want to sell yours for the best possible price. Make an appointment to verify the authenticity of your watch or browse genuine second-hand Patek Philippe pieces in our showroom.

Visit: 87B Hatton Garden, London

Call: 0203 929 8227

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