The origins of Patek Philippe date back to 1839 and two watchmakers: Antoine Norbert de Patek and Franciszek Czapek. The two gentlemen parted ways in 1944 and in 1945 Patek joined forces with Jean Adrien Philippe and the company was registered under the name Patek Philippe. It has been in constant operation ever since. It is the last independent, family-owned Genevan watch manufacture and is considered by many experts and aficionados to be one of the most prestigious watch manufacturers.
The company is located in the Canton of Geneva and in the Vallée de Joux and has a vertically integrated production. It creates and engineers all the components it needs for its movements and cases which are all finished and assembled in-house.
The company has been owned by the Stern family since 1932 and is managed today by Thierry Stern, President, alongside his father Philippe Stern who is Honorary President and CEO Claude Peny.
Patek Philippe also has its own museum in downtown Geneva, which is considered among the most important collections of historical timepieces from both Patek Philippe and other brands in the world.
Five interesting facts about Patek Philippe
1 – The world record
Patek Philippe holds the record for the most expensive timepiece sold at auction – the Patek Philippe Grandmaster Chime (Ref. 6300A) that sold for $31 million during the 8th Only Watch auction in Geneva 2019. This was a biennial charity auction of luxury timepieces made by the finest watch manufacturers that raised over $38 million for research into Duchenne muscular dystrophy. This broke the previous record, also a Patek Philippe, a highly complicated pocket watch owned by Henry Graves Jr., which was sold by Sotheby’s in 2014 for $24 million.
2 – The inventor of the first keyless winding system and other inventions
Jean Adrien Philippe was the inventor of the first keyless winding system, allowing watches to be set and wound with a crown. He won a bronze medal for his invention at the Industrial Exposition in Paris in 1844 and filed a patent for the invention in 1945.
Today the company has over 100 patents spanning mechanisms for a precision regulator, perpetual calendars, a double chronograph, the famous Gyromax balance, self-winding mechanisms, time-zone watches, ultra-thin movements, a secular perpetual calendar with a retrograde date indication and an annual calendar to name just a few.
3 – The founders of Patek Philippe
Antoine Norbert de Patek was Polish, Franciszek Czapek was both Polish and Czech, and Jean Adrien Philippe was French.
4 – Famous watchmakers
A number of famous watchmakers have worked for Patek Philippe, including Gerald Genta, Roger Dubuis, and Laurent Ferrier, all of whom went on to found their own successful watch brands.
5 – Famous people spotted wearing Patek Philippe
Famous people spotted wearing Patek Philippe include Queen Victoria, Queen Elizabeth II, Pope Pius IX, Marie Curie, Albert Einstein, John F. Kennedy, Nelson Mandela, Leo Tolstoy, Pyotr Tchaikovsky, Andy Warhol, Pablo Picasso, Elizabeth Taylor, Dalai Lama, John Lennon, Eric Clapton, Angelina Jolie, Brad Pitt, Leonardo DiCaprio, Charlie Sheen, Ellen DeGeneres, and Ed Sheeran among others.