Patek Philippe-Start Your Own Tradition
By Rosie Henshaw-Smyth
You never really own a Patek Philippe.You merely look after it for the next generation.
Patek Philippe & Co, the Swiss ultra-luxury watch manufacturer founded in 1852 is located in Geneva and the Vallée de Joux. It designs and manufactures timepieces and movements including some of the most complicated mechanical watches. It is considered by many experts and aficionados to be one of the most prestigious mainstream watches.
Polish watchmaker Antoni Patek started making pocket watches in 1839 in Geneva, along with his fellow Polish assistant Franciszek Czapek. They separated in 1844, and in 1845 Patek joined with the French watchmaker Adrien Philippe, inventor of the key-less winding mechanism. Patek Philippe & Co was founded in 1851.
Patek Philippe is credited with pioneering the perpetual calendar, split-seconds hand, chronograph, and minute repeater in watches and is also known for manufacturing its own watch components.
The company has been owned by the Stern family since 1932, and, as of the late 2000s, led by Philippe Stern and his son Thierry Stern, who took over the reins from his father in 2010.
The Henry Graves Supercomplication timepiece, a pocketwatch, made by the luxury watchmaker Patek Philippe in 1933 for the prominent banker Henry Graves, was sold at Sotheby’s in Switzerland. The sale smashed the world record for the most expensive watch ever sold at auction, which was previously held by the same watch. In 1999, it was sold to Sheikh Saud Bin Mohammed Bin Ali Al-Thani of the Qatari royal family, for $11 million.
On May 10, 2010, a Patek Philippe wristwatch became the most expensive to be sold at auction, when purchased by a Swiss museum, through Christie’s in Geneva, for $5.50m. The chronograph wristwatch, from yellow gold, has a perpetual calendar and moonphase display, and was produced in 1943 in the Geneva manufacture of Patek Philippe.
In 1851, Patek Philippe started supplying its watches to Queen Victoria and her consort, Prince Albert and has subsequently been worn by Royalty around the globe.
In 1989, Patek created one of the most complicated mechanical watches ever made,the Calibre 89, created for the 150th anniversary of the company. It holds 39 complications, including the date of Easter, time of sunrise, equation of time, sidereal time, and many other indicators. 1,728 unique parts allow sidereal time, a 2,800 star chart, and more. The Calibre 89 is also able to add a day to February for leap years while leaving out the extra day for every 100 year interval.
As the catchphrase of Patek Philippe says “You never really own a Patek Philippe.You merely look after it for the next generation.”
Start your tradition here