Patek Philippe – Nearly 200 Years of Watchmaking History

Patek Philippe – Nearly 200 Years of Watchmaking History

When connoisseurs mention the exquisite craftsmanship of fine watchmaking, pioneering designs ahead of their time, and a glorious history spanning hundreds of years, no name is more deserving than Patek Philippe. The company embarked on its journey to conquer the pinnacle of the watchmaking world in the 19th century. And over the course of nearly 200 years, it has become one of the oldest and most revered luxury watch manufacturers in the world. In this article, Hoa Sa will provide you with an overview of the history of the Patek Philippe watch brand.

1. The beginning of the Patek Philippe watchmaking brand

Before its establishment, both Patek and Philippe were already on their own paths in the field of watchmaking. In 1839, Antoine Norbert de Patek collaborated with his partner Francois Czapek to launch the brand Patek, Czapek & Cie, which later became the precursor of Patek Philippe. However, this partnership lasted only six years and was subsequently dissolved due to disagreements in business operations. During that time, Patek, Czapek & Cie is estimated to have produced over a thousand watches before parting ways.

Patek and Philippe's Picture
Patek and Philippe

Shortly before Patek, Czapek & Cie was dissolved, Antoine de Patek embarked on a trip back to his hometown in Paris to participate in an exhibition, where he was introduced to a highly skilled and respected watchmaker named Jean Adrien Philippe. Philippe revolutionized watchmaking standards of his time by inventing the mechanism of a self-winding watch without the need for a key (This mechanism had been previously discovered by Abraham Louis Breguet but was not patented). This invention propelled Philippe’s reputation, attracting the attention of influential figures of the era, including Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom, one of the most powerful individuals in the world.

In 1845, the contract between Patek and Czapek & Cie expired. The company was dissolved, and Patek and Philippe subsequently co-founded a watch company initially named Patek & Co., later renamed Patek, Philippe & Cie on January 1, 1851. The rest, as they say, is a glorious chapter in history.

2. Patek Philippe – The Innovator of the Geneva Watchmaking World

Since its inception in the 1850s, Patek Philippe has gradually become an innovator in the watchmaking industry of that time. In 1868, Patek Philippe introduced the first wristwatch specifically made for Countess Koscowicz of Hungary. From 1881 to 1927, Patek Philippe continuously introduced unique patented features, such as the precision regulator for watches (1881), the perpetual calendar mechanism in a pocket watch (1889), and the first watch with a double chronograph function (1902).

Patek Philippe Watch
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By 1910, Patek Philippe introduced a watch specifically designed for the Duke of Regla with an extremely intricate chiming function. Six years later, Patek Philippe continued to unveil one of the first wristwatches dedicated to women, featuring a highly complicated minute repeater function. In 1925, Patek Philippe successfully crafted the first wristwatch with a perpetual calendar function, known as ref. 97975. In 1927, James Ward Packard placed a special order for his own astronomical watch, the Patek Philippe “Packard,” which boasted 10 distinct functions within a single timepiece.

3. The New Era

In 1932, the global economy was paralyzed by the Great Depression. In order to keep the company afloat during the economic downturn, Patek Philippe had to seek external investment by selling shares in the company. This marked a new chapter in Patek Philippe’s history. Two Swiss brothers, Jean and Charles Henri Stern, invested in Patek, Philippe & Cie. The collaboration between Patek Philippe and the Stern family was a logical choice as they had a good relationship at that time and shared a common mission: to maintain the tradition of crafting the finest Swiss watches.

Under the new leadership of the Stern family, Patek Philippe experienced a historical leap forward. Firstly, they introduced in-house movements instead of relying on third-party suppliers. This period can be considered a golden age in Patek Philippe’s history, witnessing the birth of a watch model that would later become an icon not only for Patek Philippe but for the entire watchmaking industry—the Patek Philippe Calatrava ref. 96 in 1932.

Patek Philippe Watch
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By 1941, Patek Philippe began producing a significant quantity of wristwatches with perpetual calendar functions. This earned them the nickname “The King of Perpetual Calendar” in the watchmaking industry. In 1953, Patek Philippe was granted a patent for a self-winding watch with the Calibre 12-600AT movement. In 1968, the iconic Golden Ellipse design was introduced for the first time. And exactly 8 years later, the legendary luxury sports watch, Patek Philippe Ref. 3700/1, known as the Nautilus, made its debut at the Basel Fair. The Nautilus can be considered a symbol of pioneering in creating a completely new category of watches—the category of luxury sports watches.

Patek Philippe Watch
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Until today, Patek Philippe remains the only independent luxury watch brand that is still 100% privately owned. The Stern family’s passion for Patek Philippe and the art of Swiss watchmaking as a whole has propelled Patek Philippe to become one of the foremost high-end watchmaking brands in the world. It was out of this passion that the Patek Philippe Museum was inaugurated in 2001, hailed as a “temple dedicated to the art of watchmaking.” The museum houses a collection of documents spanning over 5 centuries of watchmaking history, as well as antique timepieces ranging from the 16th century to Patek Philippe collections from 1839.

4. Change the appearance of your Patek Philippe watch

The history of Patek Philippe watches is synonymous with innovation and meticulous attention to detail, which has earned them the coveted status of being one of the most desired Swiss watchmakers in the world. Patek Philippe has long been renowned for the saying, “You never actually own a Patek Philippe. You merely look after it for the next generation.” When you own a Patek Philippe watch, you can truly appreciate the intricacy of every finely engraved line, the heritage or story behind each design, making each timepiece truly special.

Patek Philippe Watch
Patek Philippe Watch with Black Alligator Watch Strap from Hoa Sa

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However, the beauty of a watch is not only in the watch itself but also in the watch strap. It is crucial to find a trusted place where you can purchase high-quality watch straps that match the value of your watch. Hoa Sa has long been a reliable destination for watch collectors, not only in Vietnam but worldwide. We understand what is best to perfectly complement your Patek Philippe watch.

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