Patek Annuals & Perpetuals Ads


Patek Annual & Perpetual Calendar Advertisements

There are few brands that represent high end watchmaking as well as Patek Philippe. From beautiful grand complications like the perpetual calendar chronograph reference 3970 to the brand’s signature annual calendar timepieces such as the reference 5035, these amazing, highly complicated wristwatches are great examples of what Patek does best. There’s a reason why perpetual and annual calendar pieces are known to be holy grails amongst the watch community.

Similar to the watches themselves, the ads for the perpetual and annual calendars have a regal, elegant feel that captures Patek’s long-standing tradition in the Swiss watch industry. Prior to the “Generations” campaign, with its well-known “You never actually own…” headline, Patek went with a campaign that was text heavy and had consistent imagery. Starting in 1985, Patek Philippe ads featured hands holding a watch, a photograph that ran for a decade and showed the watch being presented as something special. With this campaign created by Rene Bittel, the reference 3940 stars in some of the advertisements from the late 1980s and early 1990s. Whether the reference 3940 is in an ad from Patek itself or from an authorized jeweler, such as Tourneau, this complicated watch is fittingly accompanied by copy that highlights the craftsmanship and materials used to create it, educating potential buyers on the functionality of the complications.

Two particular advertisements I’ve come across showing perpetual calendars stand out due to the reference featured and the visual design. If Phillips or Sotheby’s held an auction of Patek advertisements, one of these could be on the cover of the catalog. These ads come from completely different eras – one is a color illustration from the early 1950s and showcases the reference 2497, the first perpetual calendar wristwatch with center seconds, and the other is a gallery-worthy photograph sprawling across four oversized pages from 1999. I call this ad “drowning man” as it shows a unbelievable scene of a woman diving in choppy waters to seemingly save a man’s life, but in actuality she leaves him and swims away with the reference 3970, smiling. These two ads make the case that certain watch advertisements are indeed art.