PATEK PHILIPPE STEEL WATCHES – JOHN GOLDBERGER, PUBLISHED 2010
This book, a quick read, is mostly a pictorial describing many if not all Patek Philippe stainless steel watches that were produced since they were first manufactured in the 1930s. It was written by none other than John Goldberger himself, a foremost expert on vintage watches especially extremely rare pieces. He is perhaps the appropriate author for stainless Pateks because in their history they have very rarely produced stainless steel pocket or wrist watches.
It is unknown, or at least not stated, whether this book is a comprehensive account of all stainless steel watches produced by Patek Philippe but if written by Goldberger, he surely must have included as many stainless pieces that he has researched and tried not to exclude any up until the year of publication.
A brief history of the Patek stainless steel watches reveals that they began manufacturing stainless steel watches in the 1930s from a British invention named Staybrite, an imperfect precursor to the more malleable and corrosion resistant modern day stainless steel we see today. And over the century, stainless steel has not evolved much. The history also reveals the reasons why stainless steel watches were produced. It was a much cheaper material during the Depression and also there existed trade restrictions in certain European countries forbidding the importation of gold. As a consequence many of Pateks existing models were created in stainless steel and even new models were created out of this novel lighter alloy.
What struck me about the book was the quality of the photographs of such old models that have been very well preserved over the century. What also struck me was the paucity of stainless steel Pateks which we know are produced in very low proportions which makes them that much more valuable on the market. It’s not only the Nautilus or Aquanaut models that have been scarce but the chronographs and simple plain time and date stainless steel watches. If they actually become available, these pieces must command extreme prices at auctions because of their rarity. But I presume that they don’t even make it to auctions. The suffix A is so rare in Patek’s current catalogue and mostly found in the Nautilus and Aquanaut line. There is actually only one model in the complication line the new 5212A which is such a unicorn that it is the only other stainless steel Patek.
Very few stainless steel perpetual calendars were produced and a few steel chronographs were also produced. The signature stainless piece in the book is the 5950A a masterful beauty housing a monopusher split second chronograph. This is a rare beauty and as far as I know Patek has never produced any minute repeaters produced in stainless steel.
The book is a comprehensive summary of all Patek stainless steel models up until 2010 and serves as a historical reference of these models. I wouldn’t say the book flows like a novel but for Patek collectors and enthusiasts it is well suited reference when they need factual information about a particular watch. Because the author is John Goldberger we can trust that the information is as reliable as can be researched.