In the first two episodes from our one-on-0ne with President Thierry Stern we covered 2014 novelties and 175 years celebrations, in this third and final episode we get up close and personal to the life of the passionate man behind this iconic brand, his philosophy, what he does in his free time and message to watch lovers and patekaholics around the world. Watch the full video to hear it all in his own words.
Patek Philippe – The last family-owned independent Genevan watch manufacturer
Since 175 years without interruption, Patek Philippe has been perpetuating the tradition of Genevan watchmaking. As the last family-owned independent watch manufacturer in Geneva, it enjoys total creative freedom to entirely design, produce and assemble what experts agree to be the finest timepieces in the world – following the vision of its founders Antoine Norbert de Patek (1839) and Adrien Philippe (1845). Thanks to its exceptional know-how, Patek Philippe maintains a tradition of innovation hailed by an impressive repertoire of more than 80 patents.
Independence, tradition, innovation, quality and craftsmanship, rarity, value, aesthetics, service, emotion, and legacy are the ten fundamental values of the Genevan watchmaker. Patek Philippe has always aimed for perfection by creating timepieces of unrivalled quality and reliability, the uniqueness and exclusiveness of which makes them rare and precious pieces, a unique legacy to be handed down from one generation to the next. To achieve this, the company invests in innovation with new materials and leading-edge technologies, while continuing to preserve the tradition of ancestral watchmaking know-how, and maintains the industry’s strictest quality control standards.
In the hands of the Stern family since 1932, the company is managed today by a board of directors composed of Honorary President Philippe Stern, President Thierry Stern, and CEO Claude Peny. During his years as President, Philippe Stern marked the history of the company with significant building projects to reinforce its industrial infrastructure and independence, with the creation of the Patek Philippe Museum, and with the launch of exceptional timepieces such as the Calibre 89. Appointed President in 2009, Thierry Stern aims to ensure that Patek Philippe remains at the leading edge of watchmaking technology and research into material sciences, thus contributing to the continual improvement of the long-term quality and reliability of its timepieces.
The Patek Philippe Seal
In 2009, Patek Philippe launched its proprietary quality label for mechanical watches. This Patek Philippe Seal attests to the utmost quality of its timepieces, far above and beyond official standards, by integrating all competencies and features of relevance in manufacturing, precision and lifelong maintenance. The Patek Philippe Seal applies to the entire watch and is the only seal of quality that assures lifetime maintenance of the watch, regardless of the date of completion. It is governed by detailed regulations and an independent supervisory body. The Patek Philippe Seal embodies all the company’s values and quality standards, and Messrs. Stern act as its main guardians.
The company today
Patek Philippe SA comprises the following units: the main workshops at Plan-les-Ouates (Geneva), with its administrative headquarters, research activities into new technologies, development of new mechanisms, the creation division, the movement component manufacturing workshops, and all the watchmaking activities from design to delivery, including after-sales service and restoration; the case and bracelet workshops in Perly (Geneva); the Patek Philippe Museum in Geneva, and the exclusive Patek Philippe Salons in Geneva, Paris, and London. Patek Philippe also owns eight partner companies outside the Canton of Geneva: Calame (watch cases), Poli-Art(polishing), SHG (gemsetting), and Patek Philippe SA La Chaux-de-Fonds in La Chaux-de-Fonds; Cadrans Fluckiger (dials) in Saint-Imier; Allaine (movement casing) in Alle; and Betakron (finishing, decorating, steel components) in the Jura; as well as Patek Philippe La Vallée SA (watchmaking, haute horlogerie, and repairs) in Le Brassus.
The Patek Philippe Museum
Philippe Stern’s legendary passion for exceptional timepieces allowed him to gather in Geneva an extraordinary and unique collection of nearly 2000 watches, musical automata, and miniature enamels from the 16th century to today, alongside an extensive library of over 8000 works entirely dedicated to horology. This unique museum was opened to the public in Geneva in November 2001.
The current collection
Calatrava Classic round wristwatch. The highly successful classic design created in 1932.
Nautilus More than 35 years of success for this famous water-resistant porthole-style case launched in 1976.
Aquanaut Created in 1997, this is a casually elegant sports watch of modern design.
Ellipse d’Or This elliptical design launched in 1968 is based on the antique Golden Section or divine proportion.
Gondolo Since 1993, these rectangular or tonneau-shaped watches have been inspired by the Art Deco era.
Twenty~4® Launched in 1999, the first diamond-set ladies’ wristwatch in steel became a role model for timeless feminine elegance.
Complications – Superior watchmaking artistry
Grand Complications: Perpetual calendar (with moon phases); perpetual calendar with fly-back retrograde date; astronomical calendar; instantaneous perpetual calendar with apertures, minute repeater and tourbillon; small and grand strikes; minute repeater; split-seconds chronograph; chronograph with perpetual calendar; split-seconds chronograph with perpetual calendar; automatic chronograph with Annual Calendar; tourbillon with 10-day power reserve; triple and grand complications; sidereal time; running equation of time; sky chart.
Complications: Chronograph; Annual Calendar; dual time zones; multiple time zones (World Time); power-reserve indication; 10-day power reserve; regulator dial.
Artistic timepieces: Skeleton wristwatches; pocket watches and wristwatches with enameled or engraved cases; Dôme table clocks with cloisonné enamel; Dôme table clocks with engraved Baccarat crystal; wristwatches with marquetry dials.
Fine jeweled timepieces: Luxurious watches and table clocks, pocket-watch holders and unique presentation pieces. Jewelry and accessories enhanced with diamonds or other precious stones.
Calibre 89: Most complicated portable timepiece in the world (33 complications and 1728 parts), created in 1989 to celebrate the manufacture’s 150th anniversary. This true watchmaking masterpiece took nine years to develop and produce.
Star Caliber 2000: Launched to welcome the new millennium, this pocket watch combines the most fascinating complications (21 complications, 1118 parts, 8 years of R&D and production, 6 new patents).
Sky Moon Tourbillon: Presented in 2001, it is the most complicated wristwatch in the current Patek Philippe collection. The double-face timepiece is endowed with the rarest complications (12 complications and 686 parts). Among other indications, it displays mean solar time and has a perpetual retrograde calendar on the front side. Sidereal time and astronomical functions are shown on the case back side.
Noteworthy records at auction
CHF 6.6 million 2004 “Calibre 89” in 18K white gold (1989), the world’s most complicated portable mechanical timepiece, 33 complications: second-highest auction price ever
CHF 6.6 million 2002 “World Time” wristwatch in platinum (1946) indicating 41 cities, countries and regions of the world (Ref. 1415 HU): world record for a wristwatch.
CHF 6.26 million 2010
Wristwatch in 18K yellow gold (1943), with chronograph, perpetual calendar, and moon-phase display, unique piece (Ref. 1527): second-highest price for a wristwatch.
CHF 5.12 million 2009 “Calibre 89” in 18K yellow gold (1989), the world’s most complicated portable mechanical timepiece, 33 complications.
CHF 4.14 million 2008 Wristwatch in steel (1949), with perpetual calendar and moon-phase display (Ref. 1526).
CHF 3.9 million 2002 The “Gradowski”, 18K rose gold “Grande Complication” pocket watch (1890): fourth most expensive pocket watch ever sold.
CHF 3.78 million 2012 Men’s wristwatch in platinum (1952), chronometer certificate from the Geneva Observatory. 13-ligne Lépine caliber. Guillaume balance. Breguet balance spring. Precision index adjuster. Ref. 2458, Movement No. 861’121, Case No. 673’916 – 1952.
CHF 3.44 million 2012 Platinum wristwatch (1987). Chronograph, perpetual calendar. 13-ligne caliber. Ref. 2499/100. Movement No. 869’308, Case No. 2’817’876.
CHF 3.24 million 2011 Wristwatch in 18K white gold (1928), monopusher chronograph: Record price for a simple chronograph.
CHF 3.2 million 2002 Wristwatch in 18K rose gold (1951) with chronograph, perpetual calendar and special dial (Ref. 2499).
CHF 3.19 million 2002 Wristwatch in rose gold (1957) with chronograph, rectangular pushers (Ref. 2499).
CHF 2.22 million 2013 “The Magpie’s Treasure Nest” table clock (1992) with the sculpture of a bird’s nest in which a magpie hides its booty. Hand-crafted one-of-a-kind piece in yellow gold and silver with agate, diamond, ruby, sapphire, tanzanite, rose quartz, amethyst, mother of pearl, and rock crystal. Record price for a Patek Philippe table clock.
CHF 783,750 2013 Nautilus Ref. 3700 wristwatch in platinum with 11 diamond hour markers (1981). Record price for a Nautilus model