Patek Philippe: How the brand began

Posted By: ADMIN

Published to Patek Philippe on Apr 14, 2020

Who knew that the most illustrious and widely respected prestigious watch manufacturer in the world - Patek Philippe - was born out of a Polish man and his love of pocket watches?

Here we detail Patek’s past from humble beginnings to the present day:

How it all started

Antoni Patek was born in 1812 during hard times, fighting in the Polish-Russian war as a young man. After the Polish uprising ended Patek and his family migrated to Western Europe and eventually found himself forced into resettlement in Switzerland.

And it’s a good job he did - as Geneva was where his love of watchmaking began.

As a refugee he sought companionship with other immigrants which is how he met fellow watchmaker, François Czapek. Together with a third friend, Thomas Moreau, they started their own company making pocket watches, called Patek, Czapek & Cie – Fabricants à Genève.

A meeting of minds

After several arguments the threesome parted ways and Patek met Jean Philippe at an exhibition. There he was showing off his patented keyless winding mechanism.

Patek was fascinated and the pair quickly started up a company together - Patek Philippe - and produced their first pocket watch together using Philippe’s invention.

In 1868, Patek Philippe created the first Swiss wristwatch, made for Countess Koscowicz of Hungary.

In 1877, Antoni Patek passed away at the age of 65 and in 1891, 76-year-old Adrien Philippe handed over his position in the business to his youngest son Joseph Emile Philippe, together with Francois Antoine Conty. Adrien died in 1894.

But even without its legendary founders, the brand continued to become one of the best in the watchmaking industry.

Great inventions

Patents for perpetual calendar mechanism for pocket watches, the first double chronograph and the first complicated ladies’ wristwatch with a five-minute repeater, all followed over the next two decades making headway for some of the most popular watches of all time.

In 1932, the brand left the family. The Stern brothers, who owned a dial manufacture in Geneva, purchased Patek Philippe.

During the Stern family’s leadership, the brand has created some of its most iconic models. In 1932, they debuted the first Calatrava. In 1968, they introduced the Golden Ellipse collection. Then, in 1976, Patek Philippe launched the first Nautilus model.

In 1989 Patek developed a very special timepiece to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the brand. The Calibre 89 had 33 complications, making it one of the most complex timepieces in the world… until 2015!

New marketing campaign

“You never actually own a Patek Philippe. You merely look after it for the next generation.” became the new advertising campaign in 1996 and fans loved the family-orientated nature of it and the fact it implied the value would somewhat increase.

And more recently...

In 2014, Patek celebrated its 175th anniversary and there was a very impressive timepiece created to celebrate it. It was the Grandmaster Chime featuring 20 complications, five acoustic functions and a date repeater. And in November, it became the world’s most expensive watch, when the Only Watch charity auction sold it for £24.2 million.

Patek Philippe, to this day remains one of the greatest watch manufacturers of all time, with turnover at over $1 billion.