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Patek Philippe vs Cartier Watch Comparison, Which Should I Buy?

Patek Philippe vs Cartier Watch Comparison, Which Should I Buy?

Not sure if you should buy a Patek Philippe or Cartier watch? It can definitely be tough to choose between two iconic watch brands. Read this Patek Philippe vs Cartier watch comparison to help make your decision easier. 


We are going to compare the two brands based on the following factors:

  • Brand Popularity & Prestige
  • History & Achievements 
  • Horology
  • Precision & Accuracy
  • Craftsmanship
  • Price
  • Resale Value 
  • Popular Models & Styles
  • Target Market
Patek Philippe or cartier


Cartier and Patek Philippe are two of the world’s most popular brands. Not just in jewelry and watchmaking, but in general. Both iconic brands have a very rich and long history, and they are household names across the globe. 

The major difference between the two is that Patek Philippe’s focus is solely on watchmaking, whereas Cartier is known for crafting high-end jewelry as well. In fact, Cartier is really a fashion jewelry brand that also makes watches. 

It’s hard to say which is more popular, but generally speaking, Cartier is a bigger brand…

That said, when it comes to luxury Swiss watchmaking prestige, Patek Philippe reigns supreme. While Cartier has created magnificent timepieces that royalty, rich, and famous people love, Patek is more revered and respected by the luxury watch community. Patek is part of the Big Three in watchmaking (Patek Philippe, Audemars Piguet, and Vacheron Constantin). They have supplied royals and world leaders with fine watches since the 1800s.

Summary: Cartier is a bigger brand but Patek holds more prestige in watchmaking. 

cartier or patek


Patek Philippe was founded in 1839 in the Swiss watchmaking capital of the world, Geneva Switzerland. 

Cartier was founded in Paris, France in 1847. 

Both companies have a very rich history. They have been beloved by Royalty and the elites of the world pretty much since their inception. 

Moreover, the two companies have changed the world with their innovations and forward thinking.

When it comes to the wristwatch, Patek and Cartier essentially share a special achievement… 

Patek invented the wristwatch, but Cartier made it fashionable. 

Patek Philippe made the first ever wristwatch made for Countess Koscowicz of Hungary in 1868. This was a time when everyone was using pocket watches (and Patek was making the world’s most complicated pocket watches). The idea of a watch on the wrist was strange…

That is, until Cartier popularized it with their first wristwatch, which was the Cartier Santos, a watch designed for a famous Pilot who was their friend. 

Cartier’s influence in fashion was so powerful that they had the ability to cause this huge shift in the industry. 

After Cartier made wristwatches popular, all brands of watchmakers begin miniaturizing mechanical movements so they could fit into a case size made for the wrist. From then on, it was all about wristwatches and this remains true to this day. 

Beyond this completely game-changing achievement, both brands have made some impressive innovations and iconic watch models. That said, in terms of complications, Patek Philippe has many more achievements. They have produced some of the world’s most complicated watches, such as the Patek Philippe Calibre 89, one of the most complicated wristwatches ever made, which has 33 complications.

Summary: Both brands have a long, rich history that has deeply impacted the watchmaking industry. Patek invented the wristwatch, while Cartier popularized it. However, in terms of specific achievements in watchmaking, Patek holds more records as they make very complicated watches, which we are about to get into in the next section below. 

patek nautilus
Patek Philippe 5711-1R Rose Gold Watch


Cartier has very famous, iconic and expensive watches, but none of them are on the same level of complexity as Patek Philippe’s most complicated watches. When it comes to the study and measurement of time, Patek Philippe is king. 

Patek has been attributed with creating some of the most mechanically complicated watches in history. For example, the Patek Philippe Hentry Grave Supercomplication, which has a whopping 24 complications. This watch is so impressive that it sold for $24,000,000 at auction. 

Now, this doesn’t mean Cartier hasn’t produced some complicated watches. For instance, they have the Grande Complication Skeleton watch, which has a perpetual calendar, minute repeater, and flying tourbillon. It’s just they are not in the same league as Patek Philippe when it comes to horology. This is why Patek Philippe is one of the Big Three in Horology, aka the Holy Trinity. They are held in the highest esteem for the engineering of mechanical watch movements. 

Summary: While Cartier is among the horological greats, they simply aren’t on the same level as Patek Philippe. In fact, it is well-established that Patek Philippe is the best of the best in Horology. We are talking #1 in all time. 

cartier tank
Cartier 2485 Tank Francaise Stainless Steel Midsize Watch


Patek Philippe has the most rigorous standards for accuracy and precious of their mechanical movements. All of their watches are required to have -3/+2 seconds per day of accuracy. In mechanical watchmaking, this is the best it gets. It’s as good as Rolex, Omega, and Audemars Piguet

Cartier, on the other hand, does not have the same superior accuracy as Patek, at least in terms of mechanical watches. Why? Well, they just don’t put as much focus into mechanical watchmaking. Cartier produces a lot of luxury quartz watches, which are battery powered. 

But here’s the thing, quartz watches are actually more accurate than mechanical watches. So, by definition of “accuracy”, Cartier’s luxury quartz watches are more accurate and precise. That said, quartz watches will never hold the same praise as mechanical watches, not to watch connoisseurs and collectors. It’s just not the same. Mechanical watchmaking is an age-old traditional craft. 

Summary: Patek’s mechanical watches are more precise and accurate, but Cartier has quartz watches, so by definition many of their watches are more accurate. The caveat is, nobody talks about the accuracy of quartz watches, as they are supposed to be perfectly accurate. When talking accuracy, it is always in regards to mechanical movements. Thus, Patek’s watches are more accurate and precise. 

Note: Patek does make ladies quartz watches. But they are not advertised as such. Patek takes great pride in mechanical movements, so all of their iconic watches are mechanical, whereas many of Cartier’s iconic models are quartz watches. 

luxury watch comparison


Cartier and Patek Philippe take great pride in the craftsmanship of their watches. They both produce exquisite watches. However, Patek Philippe is like the Bentley or Rolls Royce of watchmaking, whereas Cartier is Mercedes. Patek only puts out absolutely perfect watches and their finishing is a cut above the rest. Furthermore, Patek Philippe holds over 100 patents for their designs. 

Summary: Cartier has arguably the best craftsmanship in all of jewelry making, but when it comes to watches specifically, Patek is above and beyond the rest, Cartier included. 

cartier or patek philippe watch


Although both brands are high-end and expensive, Cartier is a far more affordable watch brand. The entry level price for a brand-new Cartier watch is around $2,500, which is for a Tank Solo. Patek Philippe’s entry price is around $12,500, which is for a Twenty-4. 

When looking at the most popular models, Cartier is significantly less. Have a look at some of the price range of popular models that most people want when looking to either brand. 

Cartier Tank: $4,000-$30,000+ (steel/leather strap – precious metal bracelet versions)
Cartier Santos: $6,000-$60,000+
Patek Aquanaut: Starting price $20,000 (basic steel model)
Patek Nautilus: Starting price $50,000 (basic steel model)

Of course, there are other popular models and the prices for both brands go up significantly, especially on Patek Philippe’s side. 

Summary: Cartier’s entry level price is almost 5 times less than Patek’s entry level price, and that will get you a watch from one of Cartier’s most popular collections. 

nautilus bustdown
Patek Philippe Nautilus 18k Rose Gold 70ctw Baguette Diamond Bust Down Wrist Watch


Cartier and Patek Philippe are among the few luxury brands in the world that hold their value very well. However, Patek Philippe watches tend to hold their value better, especially when comparing popular models. In fact, many of Patek Philippe’s watches appreciate over time if they are cared for properly. A Patek Philippe watch is always considered an heirloom, which is why their slogan is “”You never actually own a Patek Philippe. You merely look after it for the next generation.” 

Summary: Both brands’ watches hold their value well, but Patek Philippe has better resale value. In many cases, they can be considered an investment. 

women's watch
Cartier Pasha de Cartier 2528 Diamond Bezel 18k White Gold Watch


Let’s break this down into a few categories…

Collections: Patek 9, Cartier 7
Sizes: Patek 28mm-42mm, Cartier 28mm-44mm
Metals: Patek & Cartier both have 18kt Rose Gold, 18kt Yellow Gold, 18kt White gold, Stainless Steel, and more. 
Shapes: Patek Philippe watches generally have a round or octagonal shape, Cartier comes in a number of shapes.
Styles: Both have dress watches and sports watches, although Patek’s Nautilus and Aquanaut collection feels much more sporty than anything in Cartier’s catalog. 

Overall, both Cartier and Patek have a wide variety of styles and unique features. However, Cartier seems to have more distinction in overall shapes, whereas Patek provides more distinction in their dials and functions. 

Another important distinction is that Cartier offers a lot of jewelry-watches for women. Patek Philippe is more a pure watch-man’s company. 

Note: Neither brands are as diverse in style and purpose as Rolex. 

Most Popular Collections

Cartier: Tank, Santos, Ballon Bleu, Panthere, Pasha de Cartier, Roadster

Patek Philippe: Nautilus, Aquanaut, Complications, Calatrava, among many other specific references.

The big difference between Patek Philippe and Cartier popular watch models is that Patek’s are much harder to acquire. There are huge waiting lists for popular models like the steel Nautilus with a blue dial. Oftentimes you need to wait years. This is because Patek produces far less models than Cartier, so they are more scarce. 

Summary: Both brands have iconic watch models. However, Patek Philippe’s most popular models are much harder to come by. 

patek or cartier watch


Patek Philippe and Cartier are for both men and women who earn a high income and price insensitive. However, there are some big distinctions in the target market.

Patek Philippe is for the elites who appreciate watchmaking in its purest form. They are for true watch connoisseurs. People who buy Patek know they are the best watches in the world and they appreciate that fact.  

Cartier is for well-off and wealthy people who like a more delicate, fashionable look. And while Cartier has plenty of men’s watches that are renowned by watch collectors, the brand is more geared towards women. 

Summary: Think of Patek Philippe as the watch brand for true watch aficionados and Cartier as the highly fashionable, more accessible watch brand. 


All in all, Patek Philippe and Cartier are both great luxury watch brands. You can’t go wrong with either. It really comes down to personal preference and budget. Consider the points above when shopping for your next luxury watch and you will surely make a decision you are happy with for many years to come. 

Shop Patek Philippe Watches

Shop Cartier Watches

Other watch comparisons: 
Patek Philippe vs Rolex
Rolex vs Cartier
Rolex vs AP
Breitling vs Rolex
Rolex vs Omega


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