175 YEARS OF EL­E­GANCE

Tweak­ing and tun­ing time­pieces to per­fec­tion has been Patek Philippe’s main com­mit­ment since they started mak­ing fine watches in 1839. To­day their time­pieces are among the most val­ued in the world.

Esquire Malaysia Watch Guide - - Contents - Words by Ong Chin Huat

Patek Philippe, the most revered and re­spected watch brand, is cel­e­brat­ing its 175th An­niver­sary, ad­her­ing closely to its DNA by play­ing with de­tails and new ma­te­ri­als.

WHEN DEFIN­ING THE UL­TI­MATE in pres­tige and lux­ury, the first name in time­pieces that comes to mind is in­evitably Patek Philippe. Un­less you are the luck­i­est per­son in the world, the very first watch you are likely to get is some­thing more mun­dane, and that’s where you be­gin your way up the lad­der. Some of you will as­pire to own some­thing beyond the mun­dane to re­ward your­self, some­thing that will rep­re­sent your achieve­ments in life—if so, Patek Philippe is the watch you will steer to­wards. It is the ul­ti­mate watch, a piece that will grow with you, a true time­less clas­sic.

The rea­son for Patek Philippe’s fame is its rep­u­ta­tion as a watch­maker ex­traor­di­naire. Ev­ery time­piece from Patek Philippe man­u­fac­ture is hand-fin­ished to the high­est stan­dard by their ar­ti­sans. Their move­ments have not let tra­di­tion hold them back, they are con­stantly evolv­ing and rev­o­lu­tion­is­ing to keep up with the lat­est tech­nol­ogy. Hav­ing said that the man­u­fac­ture is also very se­lec­tive in view of tech­nol­ogy—they will only use it when it’s ab­so­lutely nec­es­sary and with siz­able ben­e­fits, oth­er­wise sta­tus quo. All this is done with­out in­ter­rupt­ing their fine ex­e­cu­tion of the aes­thetic of the ex­te­rior—Patek Phi­ippe time­pieces are al­ways clas­sic, clean and easy to read, no mat­ter how com­pli­cated they are on the inside. Even the sim­plest model has the touch of both old and new; when you hold one in the palm of your hand you will ap­pre­ci­ates its true value, as if it were shaped and formed nat­u­rally in your hand like a piece of ex­quis­ite jew­ellery. You can be as­sured that a Patek Philippe will be around more than a lifetime and will still keep per­fect time. That is a re­sult of nearly two cen­turies of ex­pe­ri­ence and ex­per­tise.

2014 is a big year for Patek Philippe as it cel­e­brates its 175th An­niver­sary. An­toine Nor­bert Graf de Patek Prawdzic started his own watch company in Geneva with coun­try­man Fran­ciszek Cza­pek, a watch­maker from War­saw. After years of trad­ing fine pocket watches in France they es­tab­lished Patek, Cza­pek & Cie in 1839, and it wasn’t un­til 1851 that the company’s name changed to Patek Philippe & Cie. after Cza­pek left and Patek took in Adrien Philippe, a French watch­maker who had pre­vi­ously in­vented the key­less wind­ing sys­tem.

In 1932 Patek Philippe & Cie came un­der Jean and Charles Henri Stern’s own­er­ship dur­ing the great

de­pres­sion. It was also the year they in­tro­duced the icon­o­clast, Cala­trava, the sim­ple and el­e­gant watch which is still very much alive to­day, though it has sus­tained min­i­mal tweaks over the decades. Not rest­ing on their lau­rels, the Stern brothers steered the company fur­ther down the road of in­no­va­tions and saw one of the most com­pli­cated watches ever made: ‘The Graves’. With a to­tal of 24 com­pli­ca­tion, it was cre­ated for Amer­i­can col­lec­tor and ar­dent Patek Philippe fan, Henry Graves Jr. In 1999 the watch went un­der the ham­mer and fetched USD11,000,000, which was the most ever paid for a watch, and un­til to­day it is still the most sought after lux­ury time­piece in auc­tion houses around the world.

To­day, Patek Philippe car­ries on with their found­ing fa­thers’ phi­los­o­phy, to make time­pieces of the high­est qual­ity. As men­tioned be­fore, progress and tech­no­log­i­cal ad­vance­ment is also an im­por­tant el­e­ment in adapt­ing and im­prov­ing on ex­ist­ing move­ments or cre­at­ing new move­ments. Though there was a dip in ac­tiv­i­ties be­tween ’70s and ’80s (we all know what hap­pened there), the watch­maker never stopped. Soon in the mid ’90s they were back in business and with a brand new man­u­fac­ture. In 2005 they in­tro­duced their very first in-house move­ment of the new era, and have never looked back. Shar­ing their R&D for new ma­te­ri­als with a cou­ple of other watch­mak­ers re­sulted in a spe­cial ma­te­rial made from sil­i­con, which found its way into Ref. 5250 An­nual Cal­en­dar in 2005, Ref. 5350 An­nual Cal­en­dar in 2006 and Ref. 5450 in 2008. This tril­ogy has found its way into some of the lat­est mod­els.

That is not the end of the story, more evo­lu­tion and in­no­va­tion are still in progress, im­prove­ments and ad­vance­ments are al­ways in the mak­ing, and it may take a while but that’s how Patek Philippe to does things. They tweak to per­fec­tion and in­no­vate where it’s nec­es­sary and rev­o­lu­tion­ary.

In con­junc­tion with their an­niver­sary, the watch company has in­tro­duced three new nov­el­ties to 2014— Nau­tilus Travel Time Chrono­graph Ref. 5990-1A, An­nual Cal­en­dar Chrono­graph Ref: 5960-1A, Cala­trava Ref: 5153_010.

NAU­TILUS TRAVEL TIME CHRONO­GRAPH REF: 5990-1A

It is not very of­ten one gets to see a two time­zone com­pli­ca­tion and a chrono­graph com­bi­na­tion, let alone in a Patek Philippe time­piece. Does it in­di­cate an in­ten­tion on the watch­maker’s part to do away with con­ven­tions? That shall re­main to be seen, for now this is about as in­ter­est­ing as it gets. And it makes things a damn sight more prac­ti­cal for sporty globe trot­ters. The dial had to be re­con­fig­ured and the move­ment as well, redesigned so the date in­di­ca­tor ap­pears at 12 o’clock, and the chrono­graph 60 min­utes counter is at six o’clock. The dual time is told by two hour hands, the Su­per-Lu­miNova coated solid hour and minute hands tell the lo­cal time and the skele­ton hour hand be­low tells the home time. When you are home the skele­tal hands will hide un­der the solid hands and will tell the home­time and when you move away from the time­zone and the se­lec­tor is cho­sen you can move the lo­cal solid hands to the sec­ond time­zone via plus and mi­nus ad­justers, clock­wise and anti-clock­wise ac­cord­ing to time gain or time loss lo­ca­tion. And the cen­tral chrono hand is made of rhodium-coated steel. The dial has a grad­u­a­tion black, from a dark cen­tre grad­u­at­ing to a lighter flange with the Nau­tilus sig­na­ture hor­i­zon­tal em­bossed pat­tern. Ap­plique steel hour in­dexes coated with Su­per-Lu­miNova. The day and night in­di­ca­tors are at nine and three o’clock. The com­bi­na­tion of two time­zones and a chrono­graph func­tion has re­sulted in a re­design of the stain­less steel case, with the chrono pushes close to crown pro­tec­tor on each side at two o’clock and four o’clock and plus and mi­nus hour time ad­justers is at eight and ten o’clock. The date ad­juster is lo­cated in the lug at one o’clock. All this com­pli­cated re­design is to give the wearer easy ac­cess to all the func­tions, and give the watch a brand new cal­i­bre CH-28-520 C FUS, an au­to­matic me­chan­i­cal move­ment with col­umn-wheel and disk clutch chrono­graph func­tion.

AN­NUAL CAL­EN­DAR CHRONO­GRAPH REF: 5960-1A

If you are an ar­dent fan or a keen col­lec­tor of Patek Ph­lippe you will no­tice there is some­thing dif­fer­ent and yet all too fa­mil­iar about this watch. Yes, this is a spe­cial time­piece. It has Nau­tilus chrono­graph fea­ture fused with the body of the clas­sic An­nual Cal­en­dar with a stain­less steel case, a metal which is nor­mally re­served for Nau­tilus and Aqua­naut. Once in a blue moon the watch­maker makes a time­piece in stain­less steel, and al­ways in limited quan­ti­ties. They ac­tu­ally fetch a very high value if they ever come up for auc­tion be­cause they are so rare, the stain­less steel in­ad­ver­tently be­com­ing a ‘pre­cious’ metal. The other fea­ture nor­mally seen in Nau­tilus is the chrono­graph coun­ters which are ar­ranged in three con­cen­tric cir­cles, in a sub-dial at six o’clock, with the hour counter in black on the outer con­cen­tric, the 0 to 30 seconds counter in the mid­dle con­cen­tric and the 30 to 60 seconds is in the cen­tre with a day and night in­di­ca­tor. The cal­en­dar are lo­cated at 10, 12 and 2 o’clock for day, date and month re­spec­tively,

and with ev­ery first day of the month, the date nu­meral ‘1’ is in red which is another un­usual fea­ture, to work as an alert for the first day of the month. Though a small ges­ture, it is markedly dif­fer­ent from the rest. The hour and minute hands are multi-faceted gold ox­i­dised in black with lu­mi­nes­cent and match­ing hour mak­ers and the cal­en­dar’s win­dows, the cen­tral chrono sec­ond and minute hands are in red and the hour chrono hand is in brass ox­i­dised in black. The power re­serve in­di­ca­tor at 12 o’clock, just be­low the date win­dow is white gold ox­i­dised in black. And they all sit above a sil­very opa­line dial, be­neath which lies the cal­i­bre CH 28-520 IRM QA 24H, an au­to­matic me­chan­i­cal an­nual cal­en­dar move­ment with chrono­graph func­tion with col­umn wheel. This is all housed in a stain­less steel case that is hand-fin­ished, a process that takes much longer be­cause of the hard­ness of the metal, mak­ing this piece a valu­able keep­sake.

CALA­TRAVA REF: 5153G-010

This watch is by def­i­ni­tion a real clas­sic: beau­ti­fully crafted and fin­ished in the re­mark­able stan­dard only seen in rare pieces. It has clean and sim­ple lines that give it a per­cep­tion of pu­rity. A purist’s dream, car­ried on from 2013 Cala­trava’s of­fi­cer’s style case, with a back cover, the 5153G-010 has a slightly dif­fer­ent case, the lugs are straight out and se­cure the strap by a pair of screws on each side. The bezel is flat­ter and it has a sil­very opa­line dial dec­o­rated with a sun­ray guil­loche cen­tre. The hour in­dexes are in white gold faceted ar­row head and the Dauphine hour, minute and sec­ond hands are in white gold. The watch is pow­ered by a Cal­i­bre 324 S C au­to­matic me­chan­i­cal move­ment, and housed in a white gold case with a dust cover on the back to pro­tect the sap­phire case­back.

The lat­est nov­el­ties were re­vealed at the Baselworld in a very dif­fer­ent en­v­i­ron to last year’s. The lat­est and the last booth to un­veil at Baselworld 2014 was Patek Philippe’s, done so to coin­cide with their 174th An­niver­sary. The new struc­ture is sim­ply spec­tac­u­lar—very dif­fer­ent from the last which has been around since 1999 and in com­par­i­son looks dated and old. The new build­ing is more of a pavil­ion, and com­pletely trans­par­ent like a gi­gan­tic showcase. It has a huge glass and steel su­per­struc­ture which houses three lev­els of show space, and within this space floats another struc­ture (re­sem­bling a gift-box) which is translu­cent and lit from within. The ground floors house the guest wait­ing lounge, and the watches and cal­i­bres from the old­est to the lat­est from the man­u­fac­ture are all proudly dis­played in 16 glass showcases around the glass struc­ture from the inside.

The cor­ner by the lounge is a dis­play of all the old and new fa­mous Patek Ph­li­ippe ta­ble clocks. The stair­case in the back takes the guests to the sec­ond and third lev­els. The space has a to­tal of 630sq m of ground area, and floor space to­talling 1,500sq m. The pavil­ion is su­per­mod­ern and with a touch of vin­tage feel to it. Although on first im­pres­sion the space may seem the antonym to what Patek Philippe is all about, it is the ex­cel­lent di­chotomy that makes it all work. The de­sign is by famed Ital­ian ar­chi­tect Ot­tavio Di Blasi, based in Mi­lan. The mes­sage from the pavil­ion is clearly one of look brightly into the fu­ture, and by the way things are go­ing at the mai­son, they will be around for the next 175 years and more.

Left: An­nual Cal­en­dar Chrono­graph Ref. 5960-1A in stain­less steel.

Bot­tom: Cala­trava Ref 5153G-010.

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