A History of Patek Philippe

A History of Patek Philippe

Synonymous with wealth, heritage, and status, Patek Philippe is a titan of luxury watches. As a part of the holy trinity of watchmakers, the independent manufacturer has crafted some of the finest watches in the fashion industry since 1839. The brand has created an impeccable collection of iconic wristwatches over the decades, and still to this day continues to craft stunning pieces in a wide range of styles and colours to suit all watch wearer’s individual preferences.

Delve into the beginnings of Patek Philippe watches and discover the milestones of the brand that have brought it to the success of today.

The Early Beginnings of the Luxury Watch Brand

Founded in 1839, the company originated in Geneva, Switzerland under the name of Patek, Czapek & Cie by Polish watchmaker Antoni Patek and his partner Franciszek Czapek. While the brand began by producing pocket watches from the duo, the partnership soon ended in 1845 as the two partners of the brand went their separate ways. Fortunately, Antoni Patek was able to employ the services of French watchmaker Adrien Philippe, who had impressed the world with the invention of a keyless winding mechanism.

While Philippe first started as a director in the newly formed Patek & Cie company, by 1851 he became a partner and the company was rebranded to Patek, Philippe & Cie and ever since was a dedicated craftsman improving the quality of their famous timepieces.

Patek Philippe: A Natural-Born Innovator

The company became an early innovator in the watch industry, as in 1868 Patek Philippe created the first wristwatch for a Hungarian Countess. The piece featured diamonds, a gold case, and a key-wound movement called the Caliber 27368 which was a great move for the company. 
In the late 1800s the company went on to patent a series of innovations, including the precision regulator in 1888, the pocket watch perpetual calendar mechanism in 1889, and later in 1902, it patented the double chronograph.

By 1916 the company produced the first complicated ladies wristwatch, featuring a 5-minute repeater. This was followed by selling its first split-seconds chronograph in 1923.

Overall, Patek Philippe put huge dedications into the functionality, reliability and the accuracy of the watches, which became evident in the creations  and popularity of the brand.

The Great Depression Rolls in a New Era

Like much of the world’s industry, Patek Philippe was greatly affected by the Great Depression in the 1930s. As a result, the firm was bought out by Charles and Jean Stern, who had been watch dial suppliers to the company for some years. This launched a new era of watchmaking for Patek Philippe, with the introduction of the first and iconic Calatrava wristwatch in 1932, and the regular production of wristwatches with perpetual calendars in 1941. 

Later in 1953, the company patented the impressive calibre 12-600AT self-winding mechanism and submitted a patent application for time-zone watches in 1959.

The Birth of Iconic Luxury Wristwatches

Over the years Patek Philippe has created some stand-out pieces. From the 1960s onwards Patek Philippe produced timeless, iconic and sought after wristwatches. 

From the elegant and understated Golden Eclipse in 1968 to the Nautilus in 1976, which is the grail watch of thousands of watch aficionados worldwide, the birth of the brand's iconic wristwatches certainly made a statement in the fashion industry. 

Marking the 150th anniversary of the company, the Calibre 89 movement was launched featuring 33 complications which was an eye catcher to say the least and the most ever implemented into a portable watch. As the goal of the brand was to develop and manufacture the finest timepieces in the world, this achievement was most definitely reciprocated in the famous wrist watches that they crafted.

Some of the best designed watches with the most intricate detailing have come from the brand throughout its history including the Patek Philippe 5004T. The chronograph watch has a titanium case back and is a unique masterpiece in watchmaking with its solid gold handcrafted checkerboard pattern.

The Success of Patek Philippe in the Present Day

As of 1932, Patek Philippe has been under the ownership of the Stern family, who have made great efforts to maintain the company’s prestige through ambitious projects, such as the launch of the Patek Philippe Museum. 

As the years have gone on, research and development into innovations have increased and only got better, including the introduction of the silicon-based Spiromax balance spring in 2006 and the Pulsomax silicon-based escapement in 2008. Through the safe hands of the Stern family and its commitment to innovation, it’s safe to say that Patek Philippe will continue to dazzle the watch world with exciting new timepieces for years to come.

For those on the market for a particular Patek Philippe luxury timepiece, the watch specialists here at Watch Centre can support you in browsing our impressive range of stock to find the perfect watch you are looking for.

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