Behind the Gears of Patek Philippe

As one of the most sought after watches in the world, Patek Philippe SA has literally stood the test of time. This company’s luxurious, ultra-elegant timepieces have been dazzling some very lucky people for over 140 years.
Patek Philippe was founded by Count Antoine Norbert de Patek in 1845, and in the years to come, Patek would make crucial innovations to set his watches apart from the world’s competitors. The first years were the most crucial, as in any new venture, and it would be a time marred by mundane accomplishments.
After opening his own watch company to a relatively uninterested public, Patek feared that his passion wouldn’t be enough to lure in the customers. However, he had strong ties with Poland, and the Polish people took a liking to his watches, becoming some of the first owners.
These years predate the Patek-Philippe partnership. They speak more of meager beginnings – a start that almost thwarted one of the world’s finest watches before it had a chance. In 1844, after sporadic partnerships, Patek met Adrien Philippe, a young French inventor of keyless winding mechanisms. Patek’s previous partnerships and solo efforts were all but over, and the two formed a reluctant partnership.
With Philippe’s talent for inventing and Patek’s keen eye for design and good marketing abilities, they set out to make a brand of watch never before heard of. By the time Patek Philippe introduced the world’s first wristwatch in 1867, the company was nearing bankruptcy.
However, this new, more convenient and elegant model of watch was very popular with the public. Previously, pocket watches reigned supreme. But with a new product to market, Patek Philippe was on its way to infamy. Over the next few decades, the company introduced various models of the chronograph wristwatch, plus they were the first to introduce the minute repeater, split-seconds hand, and perpetual calendar in their watches.
The Patek Philippe Co. changed hands in 1932, and today, the third generation of Patek’s family controls the historical company. The company also established a successful electronic division after WWII, from which digital watches using the technology of quartz were introduced. Patek Philippe traditionally constructed complete, handcrafted watches which employed some of the most complex technology of the time. The pair was considered master craftsmen.
In 2008, the Patek Philippe name still invokes respect and admiration. People know this brand stands for reliability and quality craftsmanship. Their watches are second to none, and the superior dedication involved requires 600 man hours of quality control to ensure that each single automatic movement is functioning perfectly.
After assembled, the watches are observed for a period of 2 weeks to 1 month, in which time they are graded on performance. The company produces only 30,000 watches annually, and the average price for a Patek Philippe timepiece is $17,000. Some of their finer pieces, however, like the 10-Day Tourbillon, are priced at over $325,000.