At the 1844 Universal Exhibition in Paris, Antoine Norbert de Patek met Jean Adrien Philippe, inventor in 1842 of a pocket watch with stem winding and hand-setting, and offered him the post of technical director as soon as Czapek’s contract ran out.
In 1845, Patek Czapek & Cie was dissolved, and Antoine Norbert de Patek, Jean Adrien Philippe and Vincent Gostowski founded, in Geneva, Patek & Cie. In 1851, the three men changed the company’s name to Patek Philippe & Cie.
In 1932, the company was purchased by two brothers, Charles and Jean Stern, owners of a fine dial manufacture in Geneva. Since then, “Patek Philippe S.A.” remains a family owned firm.
Patek Philippe was an instant success and it sold its watches to prominent clients including Queen Victoria of England. The brand earned a reputation of excellence as a result of innovative engineering advances including enhanced regulators and chronographs, and a perpetual calendar mechanism.
Thus far, Patek Philippe can claim two world-renowned accomplishments. The first was a watch made exclusively for Henry Graves Jr., a New York financier. The watch took three years to design and five years to produce. Graves and long-time competitor James Ward Park commissioned Patek Philippe to create a watch with the most complications. Complications are functions of the watch in addition to hours, seconds and minutes. After Graves died in 1953, the watch was sold to Time Museum. When the museum closed, the watch was auctioned through Sotheby’s and sold to an anonymous collector for $11 million.The second watch, known as the world’s most complicated watch ever created, was completed in 1989. It was a pocketwatch and it celebrated Patek Philippe’s 150th anniversary. The watch was called Caliber 89, and featured 33 functions and 1,728 individual parts.
The Luxury Watch Company Patek Philippe stands for quality and reliability. As an illustration, each single automatic movement manufactured by the company is put through approximately 600 hours of quality control. The assembled luxury watches are then taken through severe testing and observation for 15 days to one month (depending on the type of movement) before they are deemed ready for the customer. Perhaps due to this concentrated attention on each watch, only 30,000 watches are produced annually, in small series ranging from a few to several hundred.
Notable Watches by Patek Philippe:
Calatrava The Patek Philippe Calatrava is easily the most popular line in the Patek Philippe collection. It is a classic round wristwatch, with hobnail bezel, Roman numerals, and a beautiful porcelain white dial. Water resistant to 80 feet, the 18-karat gold case also includes a manually wound mechanical movement. Both the men’s and women’s models come in handwound, mechanical, or quartz movements. The newest Lady’s model incorporates four concentric rings on the bezel and the hour markers reflect this motif.
Gondolo A square model with a picture-frame bezel, this elegant watch contains a simple dial with Roman quarters. This Patek Philippe timepiece has a quartz movement and a sapphire crystal on an 18 karat yellow gold case, with a choice of leather strap or bracelet.
Patek Philippe’s Ref. 5146 Many watches in the Patek Philippe Collection have unassuming “Ref.” numbers to distinguish them from each other, but the starkness of the numbers should in no way mask the elegance and style of these lines. The 5146, for example, is an Annual Calendar watch that is a favorite among customers. Its 39 mm case is slightly larger than normal, offering a greater presence on the wrist of the proud owner. The dial is creamy white and the recessed subsidiary dials have circular guilloche patterns that serve to augment the depth and the sunburst dial enhances light. This watch has a brown, hand-stitched alligator strap fitted with an innovative 18K yellow or white foldover clasp.