How To Understand Patek Philippe Serial Numbers

Forum: TimeZone – Advanced Forum Date: Tue, 04 Nov 1997 15:32:03 GMT From: <>

I need help understanding the numbers on the patek watches can anyone help me out? Walt Odets?

I have as the case number 4’013’068 and the movt number 1’857’684 this is a 215 calibre pagoda gents. Then confusingly I have as the case number 4’015’095 and as the movt number 3’066’059 this is a 16250 calibre pagoda ladies. Now if patek makes 20000 watches a year and these pagodas are known to be made from may 97 as the factory has claimed and this is now november 97…how on earth do I interprete these numbers? help!

From: Walt Odets <>

James’ explanation is correct with the additional clarification that different blocks of numbers are not necessarily used in numerical sequence over time but are used (as blocks) simultaneously (for different movements being produced simultaneously) and used (as blocks) non-sequentially.  

I would interpret your Pagoda numbers as follows: the man’s is #68 produced, the woman’s #95. The Cal. 215 in the man’s is #57,684 or #47,684 produced, the Cal. 16250 in the woman’s is probably #6,059 produced. I say “interpret” here because you have to know where the series began. The Cal. 215 series may have begun with 1,800,000 or 1,810,000, probably the former. (I own serial number 1,818,217 in a Ref. 3796 which is about 10 years old.) If the series began with 1,800,000, this would make yours #57,684, etc. Since the Cal. 215 was introduced in 1976 (21 years ago) this means approximately 2,270 to 2,746 per year, either of which is plausible (this movement is used in the ubiquitous Ref. 3919).

I am assuming that the man’s Pagoda series begins with 4,013,000 only because I know they’ve not made 13,068 of them and don’t believe they’ve made 3,068 of them (wasn’t this a limited edition?). Here is an example of movement numbering over the years explaining the numbering system: 725000-729406 for Cal. 12”’-400, 1955-1960 729407-729999 for Cal. 12”’-400, 1960-1961 730000-735199 for Cal. 27-400AM (antimagnetic), 1961-1973 [Note that the 27-400AM was the replacement for the 12”’-400, and that 12”’ {lignes} equals 27 mm]. 735200-739699 is an unused block of numbers. 739700-739734 for Cal. 27-400HS (jumping hour), 1962-1965 739735-739999 is an unused block of numbers. 740000-743800 for Cal. 10”’-200, 1953-1955. The unused blocks are left unused when it is not known how many movements of a calibre will be produced.

For example, if Patek had wanted to produce more of the 27-400AM, it could have gone into the 735200-739699 range. They might also use that range at a later time for another calibre if not used for the 27-400AM. Note also that the 740000-743800 range was used from 1953-1955 while the numerically lower range 729407-729999 was used later in 1960-1961, etc. Also, knowing that the 739XXX range is used for the 400HS jumping hour, you can see that only 35 such movements were produced although available numbers in this block would have allowed them to consecutively number 300 movements. But you have to know that that range was used for this movement.  

All this said and done, I have a Ref. 2407 with movement Cal. 10”’-200, #959867. Patek confirmed the authenticity of this movement by inspection in Geneva, but says that the range of serial numbers 959001-959999 were never used. The 10”’-200 was “supposed” to be numbered in the range 950000-959000. Obviously they “ran over.” While the 10”’-200 was being produced in the 950000 range from 1946-1953, the 12”’-120 was being simultaneously produced in the 960000 range (from 1947-1952). Different references (watch “models”) are similarly numbered in series, non-consecutively reference to reference and simultaneously.

All the numbers given here are taken from Huber and Banbery and, obviously, you need such a source to make anything out of Patek numbers.