Saturday, September 10, 2011

Patek Philippe & Co.

Patek Philippe & Co. (PP) is a Swiss luxury watch manufacturer located in Geneva and the Vallée de Joux.

Polish watchmaker Antoni Patek started making pocket watches in 1839 in Geneva, along with his fellow Polish migrant Franciszek Czapek. They separated in 1844, and in 1845 Patek joined with the French watchmaker Adrien Philippe, inventor of the keyless winding mechanism. Patek Philippe & Co was founded in 1851.

Patek Philippe made their first wrist-watch in 1868. They pioneered the perpetual calendar, split-seconds hand, chronograph, and minute repeater in watches.

Like other Swiss manufacturers, the company produces mostly mechanical movements of the automatic and manual wind variety, but has produced quartz watches in the past, and a digital wrist watch, the Ref. 3414. PP is notable for manufacturing its own watch components.

Patek Philippe timepieces have recorded high prices in auctions worldwide. A large part of the demand for auction pieces is driven by Patek Philippe themselves, as they are often purchasing in the auction market to add to the collection of the Patek Philippe Museum in Geneva.

In 2010, the company produced 40,000 watches.

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.


Most expensive
Patek Philippe produced an ultra-complicated (with 24 functions) pocket-watch for Henry Graves, Jr., who entered into a friendly horological competition with James Ward Packard, which resulted in the production of the watch (known as "The Supercomplication") sold to Mr. Graves in 1933. After his death, the watch was auctioned at Sotheby's in December 1999 for USD$11,000,000, at that time the most expensive timepiece ever sold.

On April 10, 2008, "Ref. 5002P Sky Moon Tourbillon" a platinum Patek Philippe tourbillon wristwatch made the world record as the most expensive modern wristwatch sold at Hong Kong Sotheby's for HK$11.75 million ($1.49 million US). The previous record was held by a Vacheron Constantin Tour de l'Ile wristwatch, which sold at Antiquorum for $1.4 million in Geneva in 2005.

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 6.26 million swiss francs ($5.50 million US). 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.

Watches owned by royalty
In 1851, Patek Philippe started supplying its watches to Queen Victoria and her consort, Prince Albert. Queen Victoria acquired a key-wound Patek Philippe watch created in a pendant style in November 1851 during the Great Exhibition of London. The queen owned one more exclusive Patek Philippe timepiece, to be worn pinned to clothing. This watch was suspended from a diamond and enamel brooch.

Patek Philippe clientele has included Pope Pius IX, Pope Leo XIII, Christian IX and Princess Louise of Denmark (the king and queen of Denmark), Victor Emmanuel III of Italy (king of Italy and Duke of Savoy), Hussein Kamel (Sultan of Egypt from 1914 to 1918).

Anniversary edition
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.

Lever escapement
In 2005, the company introduced the Silicon escapement wheel to the industry.


Combined chronograph and calendar/moonphase wristwatch

Calendar and moonphase pocket-watch


Calendar and moonphase wristwatch

Circa 1999 men's quartz Calatrava in yellow gold, with second hand and date

Watch from 1940s, Ref. 1543

Circa 1999 men's quartz Calatrava in yellow gold, with second hand and date