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Patek Philippe Watches

Antoine Norbert de Patek and his partner, Jean Adrien Philippe“You never actually own a Patek Philippe. You merely look after it for the next generation”   
- the company slogan

The name of Patek Philippe company was registered in 1851. It consists of two names: Pole Antoine Norbert de Patek and his partner, Jean Adrien Philippe. Mr. Patek met his future partner at the sales exhibition in Paris. Jean Philippe was the author of the pioneering  stem winding and setting system by the crown (in the past a pocket watch had to be wound by a key). Before this meeting, Patek Philippe had never released its own watch movements. The watchmakers decorated the movements, bought at the other producers, and placed them in the watch case.

However, in 1851 when Mr. Patek and Mr. Philippe had just begun to cooperate, the first Patek Philippe watch with Jean Philippe's keyless movement was presented at the World Exhibition of Queen Victoria in Crystal Palace in London. The watch was immediately purchased. According to historian Philip Poniz, "there is no doubt, that this event dramatically changed the fate of Patek Philippe company. The company and its products were appreciated by the highest quarters. No wonder! The watches were bought by the Queen and the Prince!” Just in one week, Patek Philippe watches had become a standard of the elevated style and advanced technology.

Patek PhilippeAntoine Norbert Patek died in 1877, but he had enoughPatek Philippe time to enjoy the great success of his company. By that time, his watches had become popular in many countries of the world, and among Patek Philippe customers there were only aristocrats and celebrities. During that time, the company was constantly improving its setting system by the crown. In 1863, Patek Philippe took out a patent for the so-called "sliding bridle" of the mainspring. This device initiated the development of automatic watch movements. The innovation prevented the watch mainspring from too sharp winding, that could just brake the mainspring. Today the "sliding bridle" is placed in almost every watch with automatic winding system.

Because of the global economic crisis in the 20-30s, Adrien Philippe, a new successor of Patek Philippe, had to look for investors. Finally, he found Charles and Jean Stern, two brothers and the owners of the factory, producing watch dials, who had cooperated with Patek Philippe long time ago. In 1932, the brothers bought Patek Philippe company and their capital investments helped to improve the situation. Since 1958, when Henry Stern has become the sole owner of the company, Patek Philippe is managed by the Sterns.

During the Stern's managing, Patek Philippe became more independent of suppliers. It allowed the company to control the quality of both single watch elements and the finished products.

The most faithful Patek Philippe's friends and admirers were two Americans: Henry Graves, a banker, and James Ward Packard, a car maker. They were friends and the avid collectors of watches. Each of them desired to own the most complicated watch in the world and took great pains to achieve this goal. The most hard rivalry between them began in the 20s of the last century, when the firm was managed by Adrien Philippe, Joseph Emile's son. Packard ordered 13 complicated watches by Patek Philippe, including the pocket variant of the watch with alarm function. The most complicated watch from his collection was an astronomical pocket watch, that  included such a great complication as the sunrise/sunset indicator and showed the constellation of stars in the sky over Packard's house in Patek PhilippeOhio. Graves ordered a watch, so complex, that Patek Philippe company was developing it for more than six years. Since 1933 to the present time, this Supercomplication watch with 24 functions has been one of the most complicated and the most expensive watches in the world.

Patek Philippe company finally prevailed in 2000, when it releasedSupercomplication Star Caliber 2000 watch with 21 complications. This model is considered to be one of the most expensive watches in the world. It took Patek Philippe watchmakers 6 years of hard work to create such a watch, but during these six years six new patents for the great inventions in the watchmaking were registered.

Since 1845, Patek Philippe watch company has received over 70 patents! In 2001, in honor of numerous achievements of the company, Patek Philippe opened a four-storey museum in Geneva.

The first floor is devoted to the restoration of antique watches and tools. There are more than 400 tools, belonged to watchmakers, engravers, enamelers and other masters of Horology, representing the period since the end of 18th century till the mid 20th century.

Star Caliber 2000

On the second floor, the company's achievements since 1839 are presented,  dating from the time, when Antoine Norbert de Patek had not even registered Patek Philippe brand, but he was occuping with the watchmaking business. Here the pendulum clock of 1850, bought by Queen Victoria, is presented, as well as the supercomplicated Caliber 89 pocket watch of 1989, created in honor of the 150th anniversary of the company. This wrist watch is characterized by 33 functions, the most amazing of which is the sky map with 2 800 stars.

On the third floor there is a rich collection of old timepieces of 16-19 centuries. Here one can find the unique watches, made for the eastern aristocracy, Turkish sultans and Chinese mandarins. The gem of the collection is one of the first watches with a spring balance, made by Genrikus Jones approximately in 1675-1680.

The fourth floor is the library and  Patek Philippe archives.
 


  Video  
Patek Philippe watches  at BaselWorld 2012 (Basel, March 2012)
Patek Philippe watches at BaselWorld 2012 (Basel, March 2012)

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