Patek Philippe: Time for Excellence
Queen Victoria, Leo Tolstoy, Marie Curie, Albert Einstein, Tchaikovsky, Charlotte Bronte, Richard Wagner, Rudyard Kipling, and explorer Richard Evelyn Bird have all been among Patek Philippe's distinguished clients. The manufacture is a true watchmaking legend, still seen by many as a supreme guarantee of quality today, altogether few people know much about the eminent establishment's history. Here is a brief reminder.
After founding the Patek, Czapek & Co. watchmaking manufacture in Geneva in 1839, Antoine-Norbert de Patek and Francois Czapek went their separate ways in 1844, after taking on Adrien Philippe, a watchmaker who had just revolutionised the industry by developing the first timepiece that could be wound up and set without a key. In 1851, Philippe added his name to that of the firm, which became Patek Philippe & Co. Riding a wave of success, the company excelled at its art of mastering mechanical beauty, tradition, and innovation (with dozens of patents filed), and making it a point of honour to consolidate its international reputation with creations of extraordinary quality.
Applauded by the greatest collectors, the Patek Philippe manufacture can claim credit for some of the most impressive complication watches ever made. They include the 1933 timepiece made for a banking magnate Henry Graves Jr. (the calibre 89, which boasted 33 complications) and the Star Calibre presented to mark the year 2000.
In 1932, the consistently inspired company joined forces with the Stern family, who attached great importance to the preservation of heritage. Their values were applied to the firm's timepieces, giving rise to the idea of a communion between the Patek Philippe watches and their owners, who- according to the firm's advertising - were simply guardians of this heritage.
The grail of today's collectors, Patek Philippe has offered proof of its ancestral skills with creations ranging from the simple Calatrava produced in 1932 to the Reference 5131 Automatic Chronograph. Its timepieces shoulder a heavy responsibility: they must embody a vision of the watchmaker's art whose modernity is tempered with a hint of conservatism. One thing is certain: no one is immune to the brand's appeal, not even Nicolas Sarkozy, President of the French Republic, who was presented with a Patek Philippe Perpetual Calendar by his wife, Carla Bruni. Although young people will undoubtedly prefer the new generation of Nautilus- the high fashion watch of the moment- the vast majority of aficionados have remained loyal to the firm's more classical models. The renowned Gondolo- a watch with a subtle barrel shape- is still the reference for many connoisseurs with a taste for ostentatious luxury timepieces.
Th e brand has also proved determined to showcase its accumulated expertise with models such as the Reference 5960 Automatic Annual Calendar Chronograph, which have the rare quality of combining a number of different in-house inventions. Emblematic in its own way, this timepiece was the first to carry the brand new Poincon Patek Philippe stamp, a label introduced in 2009 as a guarantee for buyers that the art object they have acquired complies perfectly with the brand's values.
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