Patek Philippe – A Case Study

Table of Contents:

  1. Background
  2. What is the Patek Philippe Logo?
    1. The Logo throughout the years
  3. Patek Philippe Slogan
  4. Company Restructuring
  5. Stores
  6. Timepiece Owners
  7. Auctions
  8. Inventions and Patents
  9. Why do Collectors love Patek Philippe?
    1. Patek Philippe products are exclusive
    2. The specialized design of the watches
    3. The Investment
    4. The Patek Philippe Archives

Background

Founded in 1839, Patek Philippe is a Swiss luxury watch and clock manufacturer located in the Canton of Geneva and the Vallée de Joux. Originally known as Patek, Czapek & Cie, the company was founded by Antoine Norbert de Patek and François Czapek.  The company specialized in pocket watches. Unfortunately, the two eventually separated due to disagreements, and the company was later liquidated on April 18, 1845. On May 1, 1845, Czapek founded Czapek & Cie with a new partner, Juliusz Gruzewski. Following that, Patek was soon joined by French watchmaker Adrien Philippe, the inventor of the keyless winding mechanism, and continued the watchmaking business with a new company, Patek & Cie, beginning May 15, 1845

On January 1, 1851, the company’s name was officially changed to Patek, Philippe & Cie. In the same year, Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom had also acquired a keyless pendant watch at the Great Exhibition in London. This watch was embellished with rose-cut diamonds set in the pattern of a bouquet of flowers. The Queen had another exclusive Patek Philippe timepiece, a brooch, to be worn pinned to clothing. This piece was suspended from a diamond and enamel as well as enamel. In 1868, Patek Philippe created the first Swiss wristwatch for Countess Koscowicz of Hungary

At the age of 65, Antoni Patek passed away in March of 1877. Patek’s only son, Léon Mecyslas Vincent, did not join the business. As a result of this, Joseph Antoine Bénassy-Philippe, one of Adrien Philippe’s sons-in-law, succeeded Antoni Patek’s position within the company. 

In 1891, when Adrien Philippe was 76-years-old, he handed over his position in the business to his youngest son Joseph Emile Philippe, together with Francois Antoine Conty. Three years later, Adrien Philippe died in January 1894.

What is the Patek Philippe logo?

The Patek Philippe logo is a wonderful example of an emblem that can last throughout the centuries. The company has kept the logo intact for more than 130 years.

The Logo throughout the years:

1887 – 1920s

During the first 15 years of the brand’s existence, the watch brand Patek Philippe used a slightly different emblem. Back then, their emblem wasn’t nearly as big as the current one. It also had more decorative elements. The original emblem had more of a western style to it.

1920s – 1996

The Patek Philippe logo comprises the Calatrava Cross paired with the wordmark. The Calatrava Cross has a long history. Among Spanish and Portuguese Iberian orders of Knighthood, this was a very important symbol. The cross received its name in honor of the 12th-century Military Order of Calatrava. The Calatrava Cross became the registered company logo of Patek Philippe.

1996 – 2021

The logo did not change much, except for the color. In 1996, the brand gave the logo an updated look using a blend of grey and beige coloring, which is sometimes called the ‘white gold’ color.

Present

While originally the logo was presented in black over the white background, later the cross’s color was changed to gold. The color was tweaked several times before it reached its current muted gold shade. 

Patek Philippe Slogan

One of  the company’s slogans is “You never actually own a Patek Philippe. You merely look after it for the next generation.” This slogan was introduced when the company launched its “Generations” campaign in 1996.

Company restructuring

Since 1932, the Patek Philippe company has been owned by the Stern family in Switzerland and today is managed by Thierry Stern (President), Philippe Stern (Honorary President), and Claude Peny (CEO). The company was acquired by Charles Stern and Jean Stern acquired during the Great Depression. Being one of the oldest watch manufacturers in the world with an uninterrupted watchmaking history since its founding,  Patek Philippe holds itself to high luxury and quality standards. The brand designs and manufactures timepieces as well as clockwork movements which includes some of the most complicated mechanical watches on the market. The manufacturer also benefits from full creative freedom, which allows the brand to design, develop, and craft watches that connoisseurs consider to be the world’s finest. 

Stores

The company maintains over 400 retail locations globally and over a dozen distribution centers across North America, Europe, Asia, and Oceania. In 2001, the Patek Philippe Museum opened in Geneva.

Timepiece Owners

Patek Philippe is widely considered to be one of the most prestigious watch manufacturers in the world. Over the years, notable Patek Philippe patrons and timepiece owners include:

  • Queen Victoria
  • Queen Elizabeth II
  • Princess Diana
  • Pope Pius IX
  • Marie Curie
  • Albert Einstein
  • John F. Kennedy
  • Nelson Mandela
  • Pablo Picasso
  • Pyotr Tchaikovsky
  • Leo Tolstoy

Auctions

As of December 2020, among the world’s top ten most expensive watches ever sold at auctions, eight are Patek Philippe watches. The Patek Philippe Grandmaster Chime Ref. 6300A-010 currently holds the title of the most expensive watch (and wristwatch) ever sold at auction (US$31.19 million/31 million CHF). Similarly, the Patek Philippe Henry Graves Supercomplication, the world’s most complicated mechanical watch until 1989, currently holds the title of the most expensive pocket watch ever sold at auction (US$24 million/23,237,000 CHF).

Inventions and Patents

Patek Philippe has invented over 20 basic calibres and has received over 100 patents.

The following are some of the important contributions from Patek Philippe to the watchmaking industry:

1800’s

  • 1845 – patented keyless winding and hand-setting system, which received a bronze medal at the 1844 Industrial Exposition in Paris
  • 1868 – created the first Swiss wristwatch
  • 1881– patented its precision regulator
  • 1889 – patented perpetual calendar mechanism for pocket watches

1900’s

  • 1902 – patented double chronograph
  • 1916 – produced the world’s first lady’s wristwatch with complication (No. 174 603, a five-minute repeater)
  • 1923 – launched the world’s first split-second chronograph wristwatch (No. 124 8244)
  • 1925 – created the world’s first perpetual calendar wristwatch (No. 97 975), with a compact movement for pendant watches created in 1898
  • 1933 – created the Henry Graves Supercomplication, the most complicated mechanical watch in the world (24 complications) until 1989
  • 1949 – patented the Gyromax balance
  • 1956 – created the world’s first all-electronic clock which, in 1958, received the “Award for Miniaturization” in New York
  • 1962 – a tourbillon movement achieves the world’s still-unbeaten timekeeping precision record for mechanical watches at Geneva Observatory
  • 1986 – patented the secular perpetual calendar with retrograde date indication
  • 1989 – created the Calibre 89, the most complicated mechanical watch in the world (33 complications) until 2015
  • 1996 – patented annual calendar mechanism and introduced the first annual calendar model Ref. 5035

2000’s

  • 2003/05 – launched the annual calendar Ref. 5250, being the world’s first watch with silicon-based (the Silinvar alloy) escapement wheel
  • 2006 – introduced the silicon-based Spiromax balance spring
  • 2008 – introduced the Pulsomax silicon-based escapement
  • 2011 – introduced the Oscillomax ensemble, combining the Spiromax balance spring, the Pulsomax escapement, and the GyromaxSi balance
  • 2011 – Launch of the Ladies First Minute Repeater
  • 2014 – The 175th anniversary is marked with a new collection of commemorative watches
  • 2014 – created the Grandmaster Chime Ref. 5175, one of the world’s most complicated wristwatches (20 complications)

Why do collectors love Patek Philippe?

  1. Patek Philippe products are exclusive

Since 1839, it is estimated that fewer than one million Patek Philippe watches have been made, making each product exclusive. The Patek production is so detailed that each watch takes up to nine months to make, and that pertains to the most basic watches. Some of the more complicated timepieces can take up to two years to make. Select Patek Phili[[e watches are so rare that customers must submit a collector’s application to demonstrate their buying status. All in all, the exclusivity of the brand has global demand skyrocketing. 

  1. The specialized design of the watches

It is the movements of the watches that present the real beauty of each piece. Not only is each Patek watch hand-finished, but each part of the watch is also crafted with excessive detail. The dial design specifically is incomparable by other brands. It is the faceted batons, as well as the hand-polished hands that truly distinguish a Patek Philippe watch from others. 

  1. The Investment

The resale value of Patek Philippe watches soars above that of other brands, whether modern or vintage. The watches that were created for the 175th anniversary collection are already reselling for extraordinary prices. For example, a Calatrava watch purchased in the 1950’s for $300 USD is now reselling for up to $20,000 USD. 

  1. The Patek Philippe Archives

What really sets Patek Philippe apart from the competition is that every Patek Philippe watch ever made has a searchable ‘extract’ available at the Patek Philippe archives. Consumers love this because it gives them confidence in knowing that the date of production and the date of sale for every watch has been recorded; this initiative began back in 1839.

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Patek Philippe – A Case Study In this post, we're looking into Patek Philippe, one of the most prestigiuos and luxurious watch brands and discuss why collectors worldwide are so in love with this watch maker.
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