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Patek Phillipe - A Brief History

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Company History

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The Company known today as Patek Philippe was founded in Geneva in 1839, by an exiled Polish Nobleman. Count Antoine Norbert de Patek and his compatriot Francois Czapek. The earliest watches were signed Patek, Czapek & co. until 1845 when Czapek left the partnership. Several years later the company was joined by French watchmaker , Jean Adrien Philippe, who later became the inventor of their famous stem-winding and hand setting mechanism, a modern and reliable concept. From May 1845 to January 1851 the firm was known as Patek & Co; Philippe lent his name to the company in 1851 when he became a full partner. Among the reasons for their initial success was the high standard of watch making and practicality of Philippe's new stem-winding system. In the early years of partnership. Queen Victoria of England herself was already a client. From the middle of the 19th century, Patek Philippe assumed a leading role in the Swiss watchmaking industry by raising the standards of workmanship and time keeping through the introduction of technical improvements (the free mainspring, the sweep seconds hand), in addition to implementing improvements to regulators, chronographs, and perpetual calendar mechanism. As early as 1867 the Paris Exhibition, Patek Philippe displayed watches featuring functions that were to become the standard for complicated watches at the beginning of the 20th century; namely a perpetual calendar, a repeater, and a chronograph with split-seconds. The two most complicated watches of all time were made by Patek Philippe. The first, made for Henry Graves Jr. New York, was completed at the beginning of the century, and the second, the Caliber 89, the world's most complicated watch, completed in 1989 (hence the name) to mark the firm's 150th anniversary. In 1932, Patek Philippe changed hands, and its new owners became Charles and Jean Stern. Today the third generation of this family sill owns and manages the company. Shortly after world war II, Patek Philippe established an electronic division, and in the 1950's the company pioneered quartz technology, filling several patents and winning multiple awards. Today, Patek Philippe SA, Geneva, is still a family company, owned jointly by its president, Mr Henry Stern, and his son and Vice President, Mr Philippe Stern. The firm has traditionally made complete timepieces, watches and clocks, employing craftsmen who are master-watchmakers capable of designing and finishing the most complicated watch movements. Other specialists such as goldsmiths, chainsmiths, enamellers, jewelers, and engravers complete the firm's manufacturing capabilities. Although Patek Philippe is rightly famous of the leading manufacture of mechanical horology, the firm is also the forefront of the industry as producers of industrial and electronic timekeepers, with its highly accurate master-clocks installed in power stations, hospitals, airports, and other public buildings and factories. The firm clientele has included many of the famous figures across history, including royalty such as Queen Victoria, as well as distinguished scientists, artists, authors and musicians, including Albert Einstein, Marie Curie, Charlotte Bronte and Tchaikovsky. Today, clearly most of the firm's production consists of wristwatches, but Patek Philippe retains the ability to produce pocket watches,and clocks to order, from highly complicated movements to those decorated with enamelled miniature paintings and engravings. The company continues to patent new inventions and improvements in horology and plays an important role in maintaining the quality , prestige and reputation of the Swiss watchmaking.



1839: On May 1, Antoine Norbert de Patek and Francois Czapek founded the firm Patek, Czapek & Co. in Geneva, with head offices located at 29 Quai Des Bergues.

1842: Jean Adrien Philippe made the first watch which could be wound and set by means of crown.

1843: On May 29, Antoine Norbert de Patek obtains Swiss Citizenship.

1844: Antoine Norbert de Patek meets Jean Adrien Phillipe at the universal Exhibition in Paris.

1844: Jean Adrien Philippe is awarded the gold medal at the Universal Exhibition in Paris for his revolutionary system of keyless winding.

1845: On April 22, Philippe is accorded Patent no:1317 for his first system of winding by means of the crown.

1845: On May 1st, Antoine Norbert de Patek with his partners Jean Adrien Philippe and Vincent Gostkowski found in Geneva the firm Patek Philippe & Co, located at 15 quai Des Bergues.

1845: On May 17, The firm Patek, Czapek & Co changes name, officially adopting the name Patek & Co.

1851: On January 1, the same partners, establish a new company with the name Patek Philippe &Co.

1854: Tiffany & Co., New York, becomes an official customer of Patek Philippe & Co, in the US.

1860: On October 4, Adrien Philippe is granted a patent of his fifth system of winding by means of the crown, Patent no.46951.

1861: On September 27, Adrien Philippe further develops patent.

1862: On May 23, a hunting case pocket watch is put on sale; it is the 18k gold, no.19850, montre a tact, quarter hour and hour repeating; 20''' movement of gilt brass, 19 jewels, lever escapement, bimetallic balance, flat hairspring.

1863: On June 16, Adrien Philippe is accorded Patent No.58941, for the slipping mainspring. this invention allows simultaneous winding of 2 or more mainspring barrels, a technique which is the foundation for all further development of self winding systems in wristwatches. This "slipping" spring makes the mainspring slide a few degree towards the inside of the barrel while staying fully wound. The end of the spring passes from one groove to another inside the barrel, stopping each time, thus keeping the spring under constant tension.

1863: Adrien Philippe writes: Les montres sans clef, a work on pocket watches wound by means of a crown in the pendant. This work was published in both Geneva and Paris.

1865: Sale of an 18k gold astronomical pocket watch, No.24919, with a double dial, one for a perpetual calendar and thermometer, the other for a solar dial with compass and equation of time. A second, similar, watch is sold in 1868.

1868: Creation of a watch mounted on a gilt bracelet with baguette movement, key winding. Enamel dial.

1876: On January 21, Vincent Gotkowski retires from the firm Patek Philippe

1876: Three employees of the firm replace Vincent Gostkowski: Albert Cingria, Gabriel Marie Rouge and Edouard Kohn.

1877: On March 1, Antoine Norbert de Patek dies.

1880: The first prize in the Chronometer Competition of the Geneva Observatory is obtained by a pocket chronometer with lever escapement and a Breguet over coil hairspring.

1881: On April 16, Adrien Philippe is accorded Patent No. 142376 for a micro metric adjustment to the index regulator subsequently adopted for all the chronometro Gondolo as well as by many other pocket watches and wristwatches.

1887: On April, 27, at 8 a.m. ,  the trademark PATEK PHILIPPE & Cie Fabricants a Geneve is registered with No. 1881, with the symbol of the Calatrava cross.

1889: On May 23, a perpetual calendar mechanism is protected by Patent No. 1018

1889: A system of winding with two mainspring barrels for independent seconds movements is granted a patent.

1891: January, Adrien Philippe passes the company management to the youngest of his five children, Joseph Emile Philippe, and to Francois Antoine Conty.

1891: Edouard Kohn leaves Patek Philippe and takes up management of the firm of watchmakers Henri-Robert Ekegren.

1893: A mechanism for the isolation of the minute recorder is patented; it can be applied to simple watches as well as to those with split-seconds.

1894: On January 5, Jean Adrien Philippe dies.

1897: A patent is granted for a fixing device for the opening spring of the cover, set on the band of the watch case

1899: A patent is granted for a push-bottom system to trigger the minute repeater.

1900: From this year through 1967, Patek Philippe receives 764 prizes at the Geneva Observatory competitions, 187 of which are first prizes..

1901: On February 1, the firm of Patek, Philippe & Co. becomes a Joint Stock Corporation under the name Ancienne Manufacture D' Horlogerie Patek Philippe &Cie S.A.

1902: On March 10, at 8am the trademark Chronometro Gondolo is registered with No. 14401. Characteristics of the Gondolo chronometer in its various sizes and in pocket or wristwatch from are the lever a moustaches, the eccentric micrometric regulation the 9k gold wheels and the movement with 18 19 20 and 21 jewels for pocket watches.

1902: On November 13, a double chronograph mechanism is granted Paten No. 27052

1903: A patent is granted to a hairspring regulator with upper en-piece for all types of watches.

1904: On March 3, a new system of winding-crown is granted Patent No. 30474

1904: A patent is granted for an instantaneous transmission mechanism in chronograph minute recorders.

1904: A patent is granted for an extra-flat watch movement.

1906: The firm delivers to Tiffany in New York, 12 minute repeating movements, which will first be used for pendant watches and later for wristwatches.

1910: On March 24 an 18k gold hunting-case pocket watch. No 138285, with the Arms of the Duke of Regla in multicolored enamel is sold. Westminster carillon. Grande et petite Sonnerie on 5 gongs minute repeater, 22 movement, rhodium plated, 38 jewels, lever escapement, bimetallic balance wheel, Breguet overcoil hairspring.

1915 : Creation of the first Lady's wristwatch in platinum with 5 minute repeater, 10th caliber with 29 jewels, bimetallic balance wheel, Breguet over coil hairspring.

1916: On January 31, a very complicated astronomical pocket watch is sold to James Ward Packard; it is in 18k gold, No. 174129, perpetual calendar with retrograde date, phases of the moon, Grande et Petite Sonnerie on 3 gongs, minute repeater, split-seconds chronograph and diablotine at a fifth of a second, 60-minute and 12-hour recorders, up and down indicators for both the movement and the chime, 22nd movement, rhodium plated, 58 jewels, lever escapement, bimetallic balance wheel, Breguet overcoil hairspring with micrometric regulation.

1916: On July 24, an astronomical pocket watch, in 18k gold (started in 1898) with indication of he equation of time, sunrise and sunset perpetual calendar and phases of the moon, is sold. The equation system rotates and is mounted on the axis of the central wheel on the back plate.

1917: On July 16, an astronomical pocket watch is sold to James Ward Packard. It is in 18K gold. No. 174623, perpetual calendar, sunrise and sunset phases of the moon, double barrel, 25''' movement, 21 jewels, lever escapement, bimetallic balance wheel, Breguet hairspring.

1919: On November 19, the 18K gold watch No. 174720 is sold to James Ward Packard; it is a crown-winding minute repeater with push-button release and 1-minute tourbillon regulator, with 30-hour power reserve. The first class precision bulletin was obtained from the Geneva Observatory with this watch.

1920: On March 23, an astronomical 18K gold pocket watch No. 174749 is sold to James Ward Packard; it has Westminster Carillon, Grande et Petite Sonnerie on 4 gongs, minute repeater, perpetual calendar, power reserve indicators for the movement and the chime. 22''' rhodium-plated movement, 37 jewels, lever escapement, bimetallic balance wheel, Breguet overcoil hairspring with micrometric regulation.

1925: Beginning of the construction of minute repeating wristwatch movements.

1925: Patek Philippe makes the world's first instantaneous changing perpetual calendar wristwatch, with indication of leap years. Originally it had been created as a lady's pendant watch, 12''' movement, No. 97975, 20 jewels, bimetallic balance wheel, Breguet overcoil hairspring.

1925: Patek Philippe obtains an exceptional result, winning the first prize in the chronometer trials, with a pocket chronometer, obtaining 848 points (7 more points than the best naval chronometers) at the Geneva Observatory.

1926: Fabrication of the first single push-button wrist chronograph, with 13''' movement, 19 jewels. This type of movement is housed is housed in classic, cushion- "tortue" and "tonneau" shaped cases in yellow pink white gold platinum or steel.

1927: Fabrication of a gentleman's watch for left-handed individuals, with split-seconds chronograph, and 30-minute recorder, 13''' rhodium plated movement, No. 198012, 21 jewels, 18k gold cushion shaped case.

1927: On January 20, the first "carry-galbe" wrist chronograph is sold by Patek Philippe with 13'' movement, for the amount of 2,135 Swiss Francs.

1927: On March 8, a hunting-case 18k gold pocket watch No. 198014, minute repeater and music alarm is sold to James Ward Packard. The tune is taken from the opera Jocelun by B. Godard, 29th rhodium plated movement, 48 jewels lever escapement bimetallic balance wheel, Breguet overcoil with micrometric regulation.

1927: On April 6, an 18k gold astronomical hunting-case pocket watch No. 198023 is sold to James Ward Packard; 3-gong minute repeater, double dial. On the first, perpetual calendar, phases of the moon, sunset and sunrise and equation of time; on the second dial a star chart as from Warren, Ohio.

1927: In the month of July the production of wristwatches with split-seconds chronograph begins. The split-seconds chronograph can record two readings simultaneously. These watches have classic, cushion, "tortue" and "tonneau" shaped cases in yellow, pink, whit gold platinum or steel.

1927: On October 13, the first instantaneous jumping perpetual calendar wristwatch, built in 1925, is sold.

1928: Manufacturing of wristwatches with complete, but not perpetual, calendar begins and some models have the phases of the moon. They have a movement of 11''' or 12'''. The cases of these watches have a classic "tortue" shape and subsequently a Calatrava model with Ref. 96 The cases are in yellow punk white gold, platinum or steel.

1928: Manufacture of the only pocket chronometer with 52 ½ minute Karousel regulator, 19''' movement, in gilt brass, Geneva quality seal, Lever escapement, bimetallic balance wheel, flat overcoil hairspring.

1929: On January 31 an astronomical pocket watch No. 198240 in 18k gold is sold to James Ward Packard. It is fitted whit several complications including perpetual calendar with retrograde date display, phases of the moon, Grande et petite Sonnerie minute repeater, split-seconds chronograph and 30-minute recorder, up and down indicators for the movement and the chime, 21''' rhodium plated movement, bimetallic balance wheel, Breguet overcoil hairspring with micrometric regulation.

1929: Beginning of the manufacture of wristwatches with jumping digital hours, 10''' caliber, and other models with jumping hours and minutes. The cases of these wristwatches are rectangular or "tortue" shape, either in gold or platinum. Subsequently, as the watches did not become popular, the production was stopped.

1930: Creation of the 13''' Q caliber, split-seconds chronograph and 30-minute recorder, with rectangular push-buttons. Only three pieces were made with Ref. 2571. Wristwatches manufactured either in yellow or pink gold.

1930: Beginning of the Fabrication of a wristwatch with split-seconds chronograph and perpetual calendar, which will be completed in 1938, the year of its sale (movement No. 198393).

1930: Beginning of the fabrication of a wristwatch with minute repeater, perpetual calendar, platinum case, movement No. 198340, 29 jewels.

1930: Patek Philippe manufactures a special wristwatch with perpetual calendar, date and rectrograde date display, cushion case, 13''' movement, No. 198167.

1930: Beginning of the use of the 9''' round caliber for wristwatches, used until the beginning of the 1940s. This movement is housed in Calatrava and other shape of cases. These watches were made in yellow, pink white gold, platinum or steel.

1932: The brothers Charles and Jean Stern acquire the majority of the shares of Patek Philippe & Cie.

1933: Fabrication of the gentleman's rectangular wristwatch, Reversible of which very few examples were made. One was given as a gift by Charles and Jean Stern to an employee in commemoration of his 20 years of service. The case is made of gold, with a 9''' movement.

1933: The most complicated watch ever manufactured by Patek Philippe up to 1989 up to 1989, second only to the Calibre 89 is sold to Henry Graves Junior. Astronomical double dial watch, perpetual calendar phases of the moon, sidereal hours, minutes and seconds, equation of time, sunrise and sunset star chart for the New York sky, Westminster carillon, Grande et Petite Sonnerie on 5 gongs, minute repeater and alarm, chronograph, fly-back and 60-minute and 12-hours recorders, power reserve indicators for the movement and the chime, Movement, 25''', in rhodium-plated nickel, No. 198385, 70 jewels, lever escapement, bimetallic balance wheel, Breguet overcoil hairspring.

1934: Henri Stern, son of Charles Stern, becomes responsible for the distribution on the American Market and founds the Henri Stern Watch Agency in New York.

1934: Manufacture of the 9''-90 calibre, of which 17'890 pieces were made and used until about 1987. The movement is "tonneau" shaped and is housed in wristwatches of different shapes and metals: yellow, pink, white gold or platinum and rarely, steel. Among them are references: 425/1, 494, 528 562, 564, 579, 596, 1434, 1450, 1480, 1482, 1507, 1553, 1593, 2495, 2440, 2441, 2442, 2443, 2456/1, 2471, 2503, 2517, 2519.

1935: Manufacture of the 8'''-80 rectangular caliber, of which 3'918 pieces were made and used until about 1960.

1935: Manufacture of the 12'''-120 round caliber, of which 24'188 pieces were made and used until 1953. the movement is housed in classic, round or fantasy cases. These watches are manufactured in yellow, pink, white gold, platinum or steel. Among them are references: 96, 1435, 1510, 1527, 1528, 1534, 1543, 1565, 1571, 1582, 1583, 1584, 2405, 2428, 2431, 2439, 2459, 2478, 2511.

1936: Delivery of the second of the two very rare wristwatches made on special request by the London firm Goldsmiths & Silversmiths of 14 and 16''' diameter, movement and sonnerie de bord in passing with repeater. The mechanism is operated by a push-button coaxial with the winding-crown.

1936: Fabrication of two lady's rectangular wristwatches, Reversible.

1936: Manufacture of the 8'''-85 round caliber, of which 8'300 pieces were made and in use up to the year 1967. The movement is housed in square, fantasy, asymmetrical, driver's wristwatches. In yellow, pink, white gold or platinum. Among them we ca find references: 556, 560, 576, 588, 589, 1421, 1478, 3424/1.

1936: Manufacture of an astronomical wristwatch with perpetual calendar. Rectrograde date display and phases of the moon, 11''' movement.

1937: Manufacture of a unique model of World Time wristwatch. Ref. 515, 10''' round caliber, housed in a "gable" rectangular case. The universal hour dial is fixed and indicates 28 cities based on New York mean time.

1937: Manufacture of a gentleman's wrist chronograph with one push-button and 30-minute recorder, 13''' rhodium plated movement, 18 jewels, 18k gold "carre galbe" case.

1937: Manufacture of a gentleman's wrist chronograph with one push-button and 30-minute recorder, 13''' rhodium plated movement, 23 jewels, platinum case.

1938: Manufacture of the 12''' caliber with base caliber of 12'''-120, in use up to 1950. The movement is round with center-seconds hand, with indirect transmission; it is housed in round wristwatches, in yellow, pink, white gold, platinum or steel. Among them are references: 96 SC, 592, 1497, 1536.

1939: Manufacture of the 12'''-120 HU (Heures Universelles) housed in gold wristwatches. In the watch the outer crown with the name of the cities is rotated manually, while the crown moves the intermediate ring divided in 24 hours. Some of these World Time models have the 12 hour dial in cloisonné enamel