Patek Philippe S.A is easily one of the most famous and expensive brands of wrist watches in the world. Over the years their incredible timepieces have been worn by a number of notable individuals, including members of royalty, movie stars and tycoons. For example, Albert Einstein was known to be a regular member on the customer list. To this day their stunning creations continue to delight and astound their wearers.
Where Did It All Begin?
The history of this masterful timepiece creator is indeed a long one with more changing over time than just the name. Today it is this rich history that guides the brand into the future.
On May 1st, 1839 two Polish immigrants, Antoine Norbert de Patek (Salesman) and François Czapek (Watchmaker) joined forces to found “Patek, Czapek & Co”. In 1844 Mr. Patek met the French watchmaker, Mr. Adrien Philippe in Paris where the latter presented his pioneering stem winding and setting system using the crown. In 1845 when Czapek decided to leave the company and to continue his activity on his own, the company name changed to “Patek & Co”.
Later on, in 1851 Mr. Philippe became officially associated with the company and it was re-baptised “Patek Philippe & Co”, before changing once more in 1901 to “Ancienne Manufacture d’Horlogerie Patek Philippe & Co, S.A.” Quite a mouthful, I’m sure you’ll agree.
Now, in 1932, the company was purchased by Charles and Jean Stern, two brothers and since then, “Patek Philippe S.A.” has remained a family owned firm, with 3rd and 4th generations at the helm in Mr. Philippe Stern, President and Mr. Thierry Stern, his son, Vice-President.
The hallmark or symbol of Philippe Patek S.A. is the Calatrava Cross. The name Calatrava has deep historical roots that plunge back to the middle-ages when in 1158 a Spanish religious order defended the Calatrava citadel against the moors. At the end of the nineteenth century, Patek Philippe adopted the emblem of the brave Spanish knights as its brand symbol, which adorns all Patek Philippe watches today.
A Rich History Of Success
The achievements of this phenomenal manufacturer throughout its storied history are as numerous as they are impressive. Patek Philippe is the creator of the most complicated mechanical watch ever made, the Calibre 89, created for the 150th anniversary of the company in 1989.
It holds 33 complications, including the date of Easter, a thermometer, time of sunrise, equation of time (the equation of time is the difference, over the course of a year, between time as read from a sundial and a clock), sidereal time (sidereal time is a measure of the position of the Earth in its rotation around its axis), and many other indicators. 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.
In addition to this they have also pioneered other revolutions in watch-making such as the perpetual calendar, chronograph, and minute repeater. However, as with every super luxury brand one of the key drawcards of the watch house to its incredibly savvy clientele is its exclusivity.
In the 150 year history of the company, they have produced approximately 600,000 timepieces in total – less than the annual production of Rolex. Please note that this is in no way intended to cast dispersions on Rolex as that brand’s heritage as a master watchmaker is indisputable. However, it does highlight the very different goals of each.
The Final Word
In my opinion Patek Philippe is unequivocally the best high-end luxury watch brand in the world. Its rich heritage and superior achievements in the world of master watchmaking set it apart from other brands and further increase its desirability. Many will never experience the chance to even hold one of these amazing timepieces let alone own one, but we can dream.
Category: Recommended Reading