A Patek Philippe watch has long been the “chosen one” among the horology cognoscenti. This May marks the 180th year of this hallowed brand, with Antoine Norbert de Patek, laying the cornerstone for his legendary life’s work on May 1, 1839 by founding Patek, Czapek & Co. where the first Patek Philippe pocket watch was born.
Today, with a legacy of a decade of quality and excellence, Patek Philippe watches have won worldwide acclaim and the company is regarded as one of the finest watchmakers in the world. With a Patek Philippe price ranging from US $8000 well into the astronomical seven-digit range, a Patek watch is not just another luxe frivolity but rather a family heirloom.
The saga of a grand heritage
Established in 1839, Patek Philippe & Co. is one of the oldest and last independent, family-owned Genevan watch manufacturer and a pillar of the traditional watchmaking artistry of Switzerland. From its founder Antoine Norbert De Patek’s encounter with co-founder Jean Adrien Philippe to the eventual technological innovations under Thiery Stern’s presidency, and from the first pocket watches to the latest super-complications, the history of this iconic brand is forged by a legacy of proud tradition and innovation.
The partnership of the savvy businessman, Patek with the inventive watchmaker, Philippe, under whose ingenuity, the brand started designing – in-house watchmaking machinery – saw the beginning of the Patek Philippe watch company, as the world knows it today. From the pocket to the wrist watch, Patek Philippe has always been at the forefront of technology, innovation and luxury, with the brand being credited for creating the world's very first Swiss luxury wristwatch in 1868, just a few years after unveiling their first tourbillon-regulated pocket watch.
The Stern family, which still leads Patek Philippe, bolstered the second growth spurt of the company by investing in several technological and design innovations and took the watch manufactory to the next level. Amidst several high-profile clienteles, from Tiffany & Co. in 1846 who appointed Patek Philippe as their principal supplier of pocket watches to the eccentric Nobel laureate Albert Einstein, who ordered a Patek Philippe gold watch in 1915 to their royal patron Queen Victoria, the brand’s list of enthusiasts and connoisseurs has been growing steadily till date. Today, the Patek Philippe watch price list will seem as speckled to the nouveau riche’s eye as the brand’s selection of watches, which range from the grand to the rare and the bizarre, with various Patek timepieces auctioning disproportionately higher than their original retail prices. Like the rare stainless steel 1518, sold two years earlier at the Phillips Bacs & Russo auction in Geneva or The Patek Philippe Hammer, which auctioned at $11 million, making it the world’s most expensive wristwatch ever.
Elegance & Style
The brand's signature aesthetic is understated sophistication, with a design philosophy that squalls – you don't buy a Patek Philippe for conspicuous consumption or for grandiose gestures of extravagance. A Patek Philippe watch is known for its subtlety and an almost old-timey sense of classical elegance. The Patek Philippe mens' watches comprise several emblematic models, such as the Patek Philippe Calatrava, the Nautilus, and the Grand Complications. Regarded by many as the pinnacle of Swiss luxury watchmaking, each timepiece is steeped in the excellence of craftsmanship and superior technology, with the watchmaker carefully handpicking their enamellers, guilloché specialists and gem-setters to comply with a degree of excellence that tolerates no approximations. The brand has won many awards, and has several patents under its belt, as it continues to invest in quality and technology.
Patek Philippe mens' watches evoke the sophistication of a case, the finesse of a movement, remarkable finishing and extremely reliable horological complications. One of their most notable collections, The Calatrava, designed by the English horologist David Penney, follows the basic principles of the Bauhaus design where a minimalistic gorgeousness is achieved by stripping the model of each element that is superfluous and finishing that is not necessary.
Patek Philippe for women
Even for women, the Patek Philippe ladies watch collections are again just what you’d expect from these virtuosos of aesthetics. The watchmakers have developed an authentic selection of Patek Philippe ladies collection, which contrary to industry norms, are not a mere miniaturised adaptation of their men’s models. The Patek Philippe ladies’ watches have been designed with movements that match the sensibilities of women and boast an impeccable aesthetic appeal. Basically, a timepiece that is both beautiful and comfortable – a mechanical gem in the noblest sense of the word! Most notable among these is the Gondolo watch, with a shape inspired by the Art Deco period and the Patek Philippe Diamond Watch range, Twenty 4. Both the models, steel and gold, in the Patek Philippe Diamond Watch range is set with diamonds on the case, bezel, dial and bracelet and rests atop a magnificent shape.
Produced in small batches and limited quantities, the Patek Philippe Diamond Watch range comprises one-of-a-kind pieces featuring enamelling, guilloché patterns and various gem-setting techniques such as grain or invisible setting. All the Baguette-cut diamonds, rubies, emeralds and other treasures are carefully selected by the company’s gemmologist and masterfully crafted and gem-set in-house, either in La Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland or in the company’s Geneva workshop. The matchless craftsmanship is further strengthened by a quality benchmark through the Patek Philippe seal – created for their mechanical timepieces. This emblem of horological excellence goes beyond any existing standards of the Swiss watch industry, applying to completely assembled timepieces and representing a commitment to lifelong servicing and restoration for all timepieces created by the company since 1839.
In Patek Philippe, a dedication to watchmaking is passed down from generation to generation. Seeped in this heritage and tradition, a timepieces from the house of Patek Philippe are more than just a fine investment piece, as they are literally selling something that money can’t buy. Actually, a Patek Philippe is a rare watch jewel that ought to be worn by fourth generation members of your family, or even beyond. Could there be a finer investment. Indeed, not!