Peter Mandelson's £21.5k watch

By the standards of Patek Philippe, it's one of their more modest watches.

The reference 5146 annual calendar has a mere 355 components and at £21,500 it's closer to their basic £10,000 Calatrava than, for example, the reference 5160 watch sold at an auction charity recently.

Peter Mandelson sporting a Patek Philippe, as he has been seen to at the Labour party conference, follows in a long tradition of the rich and famous, and they're tending to become more popular amongst the political elite.

Belarus's president wears one and President Sarkozy recently received one from Carla Bruni worth €45,000.

Sarkozy's is a perpetual calendar rather than an annual one which can not only distinguish between 30 and 31 day months, but can also deal with February (which ordinary annual calendars cannot) even during leap years.

Vladimir Putin is also a fan, his most expensive chronographic possession is a £51,000 Patek Philippe, though he usually favours chunky Blancpains, as more in keeping with his macho image.

Patek Philippe have been creating watches since 1839.

In fact they created the first wristwatch, though Cartier popularised them.

As with any truly technical organisation, their factory is extremely clean to make sure absolutely nothing but the components get into the watches.

Others who've sported Patek include Albert Einstein, Queen Victoria and jazz great Duke Ellington.

Patek Philippe's are quite elegant and discrete relative to most expensive watches.

Watches are a growing area of investment with increasing numbers of people becoming collectors.

Indeed, Patek Philippe itself claims in its advertising that you never really own a Patek Philippe, you just keep it safe for future generations.



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