Maker Spotlight: Patek Philippe

Patek Philippe is known as one of the world’s leading manufacturers of watches. Vintage Patek Philippe watches are prized by watch enthusiasts everywhere. Read on and learn more about how this world-famous brand was established.

Swiss 18 Karat Yellow Gold Mens Wrist Watch by Patek Philippe

Patek Philippe is known as “the Rolls-Royce of watches”, and its history offers a compelling insight into how this unique, family-held watch company has dominated the Swiss watch industry for over 160 years.

Patek Philippe was the result of two brilliant (but very different) men joining forces to create a company that has endured, almost unchanged, to this day. Antoine Norbert de Patek, a Polish refugee and former soldier, and Jean Adrien Philippe, a watchmaker who succeeded in constructing an extremely flat pocket watch that could be wound up and set by means of the crown, instead of with a key. They formed Patek & Co in 1845. With Adrien Philippe’s ingenuity and hard work, business steadily improved. To recognize his partner’s efforts, Patek again re-organized the firm in 1851, this time as Patek Philippe & Co.

Antique Ladies Pendant Style Pocket Watch by Patek Philippe, circa 1865

Following the co-founders’ death, three longtime company employees became partners in the firm. In 1901, Patek Philippe was reorganized as a stock corporation under the name “Ancienne Manufacture d’Horlogerie Patek Philippe & Cie, SA”. Unfortunately, the company’s fortunes suffered as a result of the Great Depression, and Patek Philippe was sold to Charles and Jean Stern, who owned the company that exclusively supplied dials for Patek Philippe watches.

Mens Platinum Pocket Watch by Patek Philippe
18K Yellow Gold Pocket Watch by Patek Philippe

For the first time in years, Patek Philippe, with the Stern family in charge, was able to control every aspect of its production. Its sales picked up and the company’s financial health gradually improved. This period marks a time of great innovation and the creation of many spectacular watches that quickly re-established Patek Philippe as the industry leader. Another advantage Patek Philippe had over its competition was the fact that it was a family-run business. As such, major business decisions did not have to meet with approval from a board of directors.

18K Gold Calatrava Wrist Watch by Patek Philippe
Rare Mens Gold Dial Wrist Watch by Patek Philippe

One thing that has not changed is the issue of Patek Philippe’s ownership. The Stern family has promised that Patek Philippe will continue as a family-owned company, despite enormous financial incentives for them to “sell out” to a conglomerate. In doing so, they honor a grand tradition which dates back to 1845, and a partnership whose spirit lives on forever in every marvelous Patek Philippe watch.

18K Yellow Gold Wrist Watch by Patek Philippe
Rare Mens Linen Dial Wrist Watch by Patek Philippe
Rare Mens Art Deco Wrist Watch by Patek Philippe
Ladies 18K Gold Wrist Watch by Patek Philippe

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