The Swiss company that became Patek Philippe was founded in 1839. One of the company’s two founding partners, Antoine Norbert de Patek, met French watch maker Adrien Philippe in 1844 during a presentation of Philippe’s pioneering stem-winding system. In 1845, Patek’s partner decided to strike out on his own and in 1851, Patek Philippe & Cie was born.
From the beginning, Patek Philippe made some of the most complicated — and beautiful — watches ever produced. Fastidious records have been kept on every watch the company has made, so that modern-day collectors can request the repair history of any antique or vintage Patek Philippe watch before making a purchase.
Significantly, the company’s first wristwatch was also Switzerland’s first wristwatch. It was made in 1868 and sold to the Countess Koscowicz of Hungary in 1876. Ornate and clunky by contemporary standards, it was wound with a key and resembled a triptych, with the watch framed by two diamond-and-gold encrusted panels on either side. Patek Philippe has been a luxury brand ever since.
By the end of the 19th century, the technical quality of Patek Philippe watches began to be codified. In 1886, the micromechanical engineering and hand finishing of the firm’s wristwatch movements were awarded the prestigious Geneva Seal. Numerous patents followed, including one for a "split-seconds chronograph" in 1902.
Patek Philippe’s first complicated ladies’ wristwatch appeared in 1916. It had a five-minute repeater. In 1922-23, Patek Philippe created the first split-seconds chronograph wristwatch and in 1925 it introduced its first wristwatch with a perpetual calendar.
The 1920s was a vibrant decade for Patek Philippe. Some of its most sought-after antique watches are from this period, including the Officer Gondolo wristwatch from 1920, a perpetual-calendar wristwatch with moon phases in 1925, a repeater in 1926, and a square version of the handsome Gondolo in 1928.
Despite the Great Depression and new owners in 1932, innovation continued through the 1930s. The rectangular Reverso, whose face could be reversed as its name suggests, was produced in 1932, but it took more than a decade for the curiosity to find a buyer. The extra-large, "Staybrite" steel Doctor’s wristwatch arrived in 1937. As for the Calatrava, which is today considered one of the company’s flagship lines, it began in 1932, with new Calatravas added throughout the decade...
In 1941, Patek Philippe began regular production of its perpetual-calendar wristwatches — today these vintage Patek Philippes are highly prized by collectors. By the middle of the decade, a wristwatch named for Duke Ellington appeared. Edward Kennedy Ellington himself purchased one in 1948, though why the legendary jazzman needed a water-resistant wristwatch with a split-second chronograph and a tachometer can only be imagined.
Patek Philippe filed numerous patents for self-winding mechanisms in the mid-1950s (a self-winder from 1955 with a black enamel dial and labeled "Ref. 2526" is especially handsome). Patents were also filed in 1959 and 1962 for time-zone watches. The end of the 1950s saw the introduction of a prototype for a digital wristwatch; the late 1960s heralded the launch of the first model in the popular Ellipse collection ("Ref. 3548").
Concurrently, from the late 1940s until about 1960, Patek Philippe produced a number of wristwatches with cloisonné dials to take advantage of the abundance of enamel painters who were working in Geneva at that time. Subjects included maps (Geneva and its lake, the world, the Americas, Eurasia), sports figures (a tennis player, a polo player), and odes to nature (a rain forest, palm trees).
Another popular Patek Philippe series are the vintage, asymmetrical wristwatches of the 1950s and 1960s. Designed by Gilbert Albert, these post-war timepieces are distinctly Swiss riffs on the Mid-century Modern aesthetic of the day.
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TAG Heuer, Patek Philippe and Chanel refresh the classicsThe Australian, July 2nd
Biver isn't just a watch brand executive, he's a bona fide force of nature. He has overseen periods of dramatic growth at Blancpain, Omega and Hublot. Now he's steering TAG Heuer, and he's on a mission to refocus the brand on its core strengths while ...Read more
Monday Morning Find: This Brash Patek Philippe Has a Strange Secret InsideBloomberg, June 29th
Some watches are iconic because they look just as fresh today as they did decades ago. Others are iconic because they represent a specific moment in watchmaking history. This slightly kitschy Patek Philippe Beta 21 is definitely the latter. True...Read more
The Curious Case of Apple Watch And Patek Philippe 3582The Tech Portal, June 27th
They have taken a rare collectible version of Philippe 3582 known as Patek Philippe Ellipse 3582G in 18k white gold with an attached mesh metal 18k white gold bracelet against the Apple watch with steel link bracelet and showed how Philippe one which ...Read more
Italian police crack down on websites selling fake Prada handbags and Patek ...Business Insider, June 19th
Italian authorities have closed down 410 websites selling fake luxury goods including Prada handbags and Patek Philippe watches and launched raids against counterfeiters nationwide, finance police said on Friday. Italy's fashion industry has long...Read more
For Sale: The World's Most Exclusive Patek Philippe, A Ruby-set Nautilus in ...Forbes, June 18th
Try finding a platinum Patek Philippe Nautilus. Not easy. Now try finding a platinum Patek Philippe Nautilus with a ruby-set bezel and dial. Rather impossible. Antiquorum's forthcoming Hong Kong auction is quite a unique occasion, offering the rarest...Read more
Amazon Is Selling A Patek Phillipe Watch For RM364,252 And The Reviews Are ...malaysiandigest.com, June 8th
Amazon is selling this Patek Philippe watch for only $96,840 (RM364,252) plus free shipping - a real steal. Yes, you need this watch. Versatile, classy, easy to match, and plated with rare platinum and oh, being a Patek Phillippe watch, this deal can...Read more
Patek Philippe Watch Art Grand Exhibition: a brief history of timeNewsweek, June 6th
I have to admit to a fairly massive bias, in that I am writing the official history of Patek Philippe, so I can hardly be counted as an impartial visitor to the Watch Art exhibition at the Saatchi Gallery. But having loved it since childhood...Read more
Roger Dubuis and Patek Philippe Watch EventsHaute Living, June 5th
yearly Patek Philippe cocktail party. A watercolorist painted postcards of the magnificent views of St. Patrick's cathedral, while guests enjoyed cucumber and rosewater cocktails. Patek's latest timepieces flanked the entrance to the rooftop for...Read more