“You never actually own a Patek Philippe. You merely look after it for the next generation.” The prestige Swiss watchmaker stands its ground with a new Maison in China that expresses its family values and quality craftsmanship. By Madeline Lin.
The very expression of a luxurious life for most, is instant gratification. But Patek Philippe does not seem to have gotten the memo when it comes to fulfilling surging demands for its fine watches. The traditional horology house, now in its 174th year, has chosen to maintain its heritage of heirloom-quality timepieces by forgoing volume-based production and distribution. Impossible for mass consumer brands, maybe, but for this last bastion of family-owned brands in Geneva, the approach is working well.
What comes through is the brand’s wellplaced pride in its craftsmanship, which is its raison d’etre. After all, Patek Philippe is known to have one of the best movement accuracies in the market – it reportedly loses only a tenth of a second movement each century – and still holds the record for creating the most expensive watch in the world, a 1932 Henry Graves Supercomplication model auctioned off at over USD11 million.
In a burgeoning Chinese market known to value the rarity of an object as much as its intrinsic beauty, Patek Philippe’s restraint also reflects intuitive business acumen.
With many a connoisseur now pining after the exquisite movement of their timepieces – each watch is said to undergo 600 hours of quality control checks and 30 days of observation – the number of affluent Chinese on Patek Philippe’s waiting list is growing rapidly.
Nowhere is this combination of age-old pedigree and modern business practice as apparent as within the plush confines of the new Maison Patek Philippe in Shanghai. The first Asian salon and only one worldwide to be seen as a “home away from home,” the 1,227sqm Maison is the second of only two sales points in China; a startling number, given that 40 percent of the brand’s worldwide sales comes from the Middle Kingdom.
Yet what Patek Philippe doesn’t have in quantity, it more than makes up for in quality. With its vantage views of the sweeping Bund stretch, and inhabiting the late 19th Century British consul general’s residence, the Maison is now noteworthy among the historic buildings of Shanghai.
Boasting precisely styled interiors, which were personally attended to by Gerdi Stern, the wife of honorary president Philippe Stern, the Maison evokes the sumptuousness
The Maison Patek Philippe Shanghai by night