Patek Philippe and the golden ratio

Published June 22, 2021, 6:35 PM

by Joe Priela

The Golden Ellipse, marrying ancient and modern

With its divine proportions, the case of the Golden Ellipse, launched in 1968, has, no doubt, inspired one of the most beautiful chapters of horological history.

All thanks to its unique blend of bold simplicity and formal purity, this watch has become one of the flagships of the Patek Philippe collection and most certainly one of its most instantly recognizable creations.

Leonardo Da Vinci (Everett Historical/Shutterstock)

The elliptical design is based on the golden section—a ratio discovered more than 2,000 years ago. It is naturally perceived as visually agreeable and perfectly balanced, as to intrigue philosophers and artists like Leonardo Da Vinci, Michelangelo, and Sandro Botticelli.

In Patek Philippe, many of the watches that appeared in 1968 have always been under the radar and are relatively unnoticeable. Many collectors think, however, that the Ellipse’s appearance is concise, the design outstanding, and compared with others, has more elegant features.


Upon Patek Philippe’s launch, the Ellipse series finally broke the deadlock with the round, square, and both combined with rectangular straight edges. This series also exhibited a mysterious feeling of harmony with its architecture.


The golden ratio was, at first, derived by Greek mathematician Eber Cable at around 450 BC. Some of the construction and the natural harmonious shape revealed the law of proportion. Soon after the proportion reached its “holy scale,” it manifested the most breathtaking, natural, and cultural phenomenon that has ever occurred. The Golden Ellipse series has been successful for over 40 years now.

From my love for history to my love for vintage watches, this piece gets me in awe every time.