Patek Philippe & Co
Patek Philippe & Co (PP) is a Swiss luxury watch manufacturer located in Geneva, Switzerland. Many collectors consider its watches to be the best ever made.
It is believed that Patek Philippe manufactured the first ever wristwatch in 1868.
The company is known for its innovation, and continues researching and developing new inventions and techniques for the watchmaking industry.
On 1st May 1839, Polish immigrants Antoni Norbert de Patek, a businessman, and Franciszek Czapek, a watchmaker, joined forces to found Patek, Czapek & Cie in Geneva, Switzerland.
Patek was a soldier who took part in the Polish rebellion against Russia in 1830. Following the rebellion Patek was among many people forced to leave Poland. In 1833 he settled down in Switzerland.
By this time Patek had started developing his artistic abilities and began studying with the landscape artist Alexandre Calame. Together with his passion for art, Patek bought his first watch movements and then sold completed watches to Polish clients.
Patek’s role eventually extended to businessman, buying and selling watches to an influential Polish clientele. Due to the growth in this business he decided to form his own company, aided by his friend Franciszek Czapek.
In 1844, Patek met the French watchmaker Adrien Philippe, inventor of the keyless winding mechanism, in Paris. The latter presented his pioneering stem winding and setting system by the crown.
Adrien Philippe and he decided to start a new partnership without Franciszek Czapek. This was a gamble – potentially losing the current clientele and risking bankruptcy.
In 1845, Czapek decided to leave the company and to continue his activity on his own. The company name changed to Patek & Cie.
Philippe officially associated with the company in 1851, resulting in another name change to Patek Philippe & Cie, before changing once more in 1901 to Ancienne Manufacture d’Horlogerie Patek Philippe & Cie, S.A..
Rivalry with Czapek
Patek’s fears that Czapek would create a rival company were justified, as Czapek not only established a new organisation but also absorbed Patek`s clientele.
s new partnership with Philippe started to succeed, Czapeks company became a serious competitor.
In 1850 Philippe introduced the first ebauches distinct movements thanks to the machinery Philippe acquired for the company. The first ones were stamped with "PP" on the dial plate.
The Queen bought a small Patek & Co lady's watch, around 30 mm in diameter, which needed no key for winding or setting. This dated from 1857 when Queen Victoria attended the Universal Exhibition in London with Prince Albert. Patek`s company gained prestige thanks to the monarch’s endorsement.
Later, the company`s name changed to Patek Philippe & Cie and the company expanded to several markets such as Russia and also supplied Rodanet of Paris and Elimayer in Leipzig.
Patek Philippe became one of the first watchmaking firms to enjoy business relations with the United States, signing an exclusive agreement with Tiffany & Co. of New York.
First perpetual calendar wristwatch
Patek Philippe introduced its first perpetual calendar wristwatch in 1925.
Patek Philippe also introduced the first bracelet chronographs with or without a split-second mechanism and wristwatches with minute repeating.
Ownership by the Stern family
In 1932 the company was purchased by Charles and Jean Stern, two brothers who owned a fine dial manufacture in Geneva. Since then, Patek Philippe S.A. remains a family owned firm.
In 2009 the company presidency was passed from the third to the fourth generation. Thierry Stern became president and his father Philippe Stern, honorary president.
In 1976 Patek Philippe introduced the Nautilus sports watch collection and in 1993 the Gondolo collection.
Notable auction sales
A Patek Philippe Supercomplication pocket watch containing 24 horological complications sold for $11 million in 1999 in a Sotheby’s auction.
In May 2010 in Geneva, a one-of-a-kind Patek Philippe from 1943 sold for $5.7 million at Christie’s.
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