Founded in 1839, Patek Philippe is among the oldest and longest standing watch companies. Patek and Philippe are those two words that can make any watch lover's heart skip a beat. Although it is one of the most popular Genevan brands, yet it does not have Suisse origins. The Patek Philippe watches are notable for their constant rise in value and are sold at auctions at record-breaking prices.
History of Patek Philippe
The brand Patek Philippe was founded in 1839 and originally established in Geneva, Switzerland yet surprisingly the founders of this Geneva manufactory were not Swiss-born.
Antoni Norbert de Patek was one of the brave soldiers who were a part of the Polish rebellion against Russian domination which took place in 1830. Later, just like the other citizens, Patek was forced to leave Poland, as a result of which in 1833 he decided to settle down in Switzerland.
After his settlement, Patek thought of developing his artistic abilities and hence began his study with a notable landscape artist, Alexandre Calame. And along with his desire for the art, he also bought his first watch movements and sold finished watches to the Polish clients. In a very short time he became a success in the business of buying and selling of watches to an influential Polish clientele and because of this progress, he considered launching his own watch company and this is where he chose his close friend Franciszek Czapek as his partner.
In 1839 Antoni Patek along with Franciszek Czapek established a company and named it as "Patek and Czapek". Although at the initial stage because the company did not have any employees, they had to buy their movements (ebauches) from other companies. Their process of production involved – purchasing the movements, sending them out to the case maker so as to put them in a case, and then finalize the product in their own shop. Now instead of producing a huge number of cheap products to turn a profit, they chose to manufacture only 200 top-quality timepieces annually.
They also often involved their cultural heritage in their works. For instance, a lot of their initial watches featured unique imagery related to Polish history, religious traditions, and folklore. In spite of their combined works, Patek and Czapek many times clashed with one another, therefore Patek started looking for a new partner in order to keep his budding business afloat.
1884 was the year when Patek had gone to France for a major Industrial Exposition, and it was then that he came across Jean Adrien Philippe - a talented young French watch expert. Philippe during that period was gaining fame in the watchmaking community as he was the inventor of the keyless winding mechanism. Thus Patek and Philippe decided to start a new partnership and in 1845 Philippe was appointed as the new head watchmaker and along with Vincent Gostkowski, Philippe and Patek signed an agreement. In 1851, the company got its official title as Patek Philippe & Cie.
It was in 1851 when the British Queen Victoria acquired a pocket watch from Patek Philippe which added to the reputation of the company. And after that, all the royal families across worldwide, from the Russian Tsar Nicholas II to Prince Albert of Monaco - approved on the name of Patek Philippe.
In 1868, the Patek Philippe manufactured its first ever wristwatch for the Hungarian Countess Koscowicz. And later in 1889, it received a patent for its perpetual calendar mechanism, which should display the month and date and should also function precisely in spite of the leap years.
By 1925, Patek Philippe had successfully combined the perpetual calendar complication into a wristwatch. And another prominent milestone in the history of Patek Philippe took place in 1902 when it was awarded a patent for its double chronograph - a watch including two different mechanisms so as to measure different time periods.
At present, the Patek Philippe is one of the masters when it comes to complications of watches and it consists of over 80 different patents. So let’s review some of its noteworthy models.
Patek Philippe Nautilus
Introduced in 1976, this Patek Philippe Nautilus is considered to be a big watch manufactured by a big company. With its unique marks, this watch was immediately proved as a luxurious sports watch as it followed a design that was unusual for affluent watch producers at the time. The first in its family came with the ref. 3700 and was assorted with a 42-millimeter case diameter (quite large considering the time period when it was launched). The latest in the family line was launched at the Baselworld 2014 - the Patek Philippe Nautilus 5990. And this Nautilus watch is not only limited to men but it also has its women's collection.
Patek Philippe Aquanaut
Introduced in 1997, this Patek Philippe Aquanaut is combined with technical excellence, high performance and has a creative design. The case of the watch emphasizes by the screw-down crown which provides an extra protection on the wrist. Plus it has a modern configuration with a rounded octagonal shape. The Patek Philippe Aquanaut is comfortable to wear in addition to being resistant and hypoallergenic.