East­ern ORI­EN­TA­TIONS

“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.

Harper’s Bazaar (Malaysia) - - Watches & Jewels -

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

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