Wade survived missed match darts in both his quarter-final win over Gerwyn Price and a dramatic semi-final against German favourite Max Hopp.
The left-hander then ended Whitlock’s bid to win a second European Championship title as he scooped the £100,000 top prize – just 13 days after becoming a father for the first time.
“That was for my son, Arthur,” said Wade. “I’m actually emotional about this – it’s an amazing feeling and I’m going to enjoy this win.
“I’ve gone through some tough times but this is for Arthur. I’ve won TV titles before and never made the most of it, but I’m buzzing.
“It’s not often that I am lost for words but I am after this. I’ve shown that I’m dangerous and everyone needs to watch out.
“Today I went into every game battling. I’ve been a lucky boy but perhaps that makes up for some of the misfortune I’ve had in recent years, and it’s a step in the right direction.”
Wade hit back to lead 5-4, but there was little to separate the pair as they remained locked following 16 legs.
Wade, though, landed back-to-back 13-dart finishes to pull away to 10-8 before pinning double ten to seal glory.
Whitlock also battled his way to the final in dramatic fashion, taking out 110 in the deciding leg of his last four clash with Joe Cullen after coming back from 10-7 down.
The Australian, who began the final day of action at the Westfalenhalle with a 10-7 quarter-final defeat of Steve West, opened the final strongly with six perfect darts and led 3-1 early on.
The day had also seen Cullen and Hopp reach their first televised semi-finals, only to suffer narrow defeats in their bids for glory.
Cullen paid for one missed match dart in his tie with Whitlock, while Hopp – who was cheered on by over 5,000 German fans in Dortmund – saw three chances to win his semi-final with Wade go begging.
World Champion Rob Cross lost out 10-8 in the quarter-finals, while Hopp won the last six legs without reply to defeat Darren Webster 10-5 in the last eight.
Price agonisingly missed three match darts in the deciding leg of his quarter-final with Wade, while West – who knocked out reigning champion Michael van Gerwen in round two – saw his hopes ended by Whitlock.
The autumn’s televised action continues next weekend with the bwin World Series of Darts Finals from November 2-4 at the Multiversum in Schwechat, Vienna.
Watch live on ITV4 in the UK & Ireland, through the PDC’s worldwide broadcast partners and in PDCTV-HD for Rest of the World Subscribers.
Unibet European Championship
Sunday, October 28
Simon Whitlock 10-7 Steve West
Joe Cullen 10-8 Rob Cross
Max Hopp 10-5 Darren Webster
James Wade 10-9 Gerwyn Price
Best of 19 legs
Simon Whitlock 11-10 Joe Cullen
James Wade 11-10 Max Hopp
Best of 21 legs
James Wade 11-8 Simon Whitlock
Best of 21 legs