In the nick of time

Vis­i­tors to a grand ex­hi­bi­tion in New York were pro­vided a rare in­sight into Patek Philippe’s 178-year his­tory.

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - Front Page - By WIL­LIAM K.C. KEE star2@thes­ For more de­tails, visit

FOR trav­ellers fly­ing into New York, go­ing through im­mi­gra­tion at JFK Air­port could prove to be an in­tim­i­dat­ing ex­pe­ri­ence.

The stern-faced of­fi­cer who pro­cessed my pass­port clear­ance, how­ever, im­me­di­ately bright­ened up when he heard my rea­son for vis­it­ing the Big Ap­ple.

“Patek Philippe? Oh, I love their watches!” he en­thused, adding that he has four in his collection, in­her­ited from his grand­par­ents.

Such is the Amer­i­can fond­ness for the lux­ury time­piece brand that over the course of 10 days, The Art Of Watches Grand Ex­hi­bi­tion New York 2017 drew long lines of vis­i­tors on a daily ba­sis.

The ex­hi­bi­tion – held from July 13 to 23 – show­cased Patek Philippe’s tra­di­tion of high-pre­ci­sion watch man­u­fac­tur­ing.

Vis­i­tors had ac­cess to ex­cep­tional pocket and wrist watches dat­ing all the way back to 1530! The most im­pres­sive time­pieces, in­clud­ing the su­per com­pli­ca­tions com­mis­sioned by Amer­i­can ty­coons James Ward Packard and Genry Graves (dur­ing the coun­try’s “Gilded Age” in the 1920s-30s) and high-pro­file pieces owned by base­ball player Joe Di Mag­gio, were on show.

Watch­maker and ar­ti­san demon­stra­tions were among the in­ter­ac­tive ac­tiv­i­ties to ed­u­cate vis­i­tors on the in­ner work­ings of fine watch-mak­ing.

The ex­hi­bi­tion also pro­vided an in­sight into the com­pany’s 178-year his­tory as well as its heritage in the do­main of haute hor­logerie. Vis­i­tors had the op­por­tu­nity to dis­cover the world of the last pri­vately fam­ily-owned Geneva watch com­pany from the in­side.

For the first time, a two-storey struc­ture was cre­ated within Cipri­ani 42nd Street to ac­com­mo­date the space (1,228sq m) re­quired for an ex­hi­bi­tion of this scale. “From its ear­li­est days, when our founder An­toine Nor­bert de Patek made his first jour­ney to Amer­ica in the 1850s un­til to­day, the im­por­tance of the coun­try to Patek Philippe can be seen through our his­tory seen in this ex­hi­bi­tion,” en­thused Thierry Stern, Patek Philippe pres­i­dent. Larry Pet­tinelli, pres­i­dent of Patek Philippe US, added: “We are proud to have been al­lowed this rare op­por­tu­nity to ed­u­cate the pub­lic not only about Patek Philippe, but also the his­tor­i­cal sig­nif­i­cance of time­keep­ing through the ages.” Ac­cord­ing to Jas­mina Steele, the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­ni­ca­tion and pub­lic re­la­tions di­rec­tor of Patek Philippe, the ex­hi­bi­tion’s aim was to recre­ate el­e­ments of the com­pany to pro­vide a unique ex­pe­ri­ence for each vis­i­tor. “By of­fer­ing vis­i­tors an im­mer­sion in­side the world of Patek Philippe, we re­ally want to share our pas­sion for watch-mak­ing and hope vis­i­tors leave with a greater knowl­edge and ap­pre­ci­a­tion of the art of watches,” said Steele, who guided the Asian me­dia on a tour of the ex­hi­bi­tion. (Apart from The Art Of Watches, me­dia mem­bers were treated to the ul­ti­mate New York ex­pe­ri­ence: from at­tend­ing Tony­win­ning Broad­way play Oslo to a pri­vate tour of the Metropoli­tan Museum of Art and din­ing at the finest Miche­lin-starred restau­rants.)

For The Art Of Watches, 10 dis­tinc­tive rooms were cre­ated. Among the high­lights:

> The Napoleon room, which trans­port vis­i­tors to the Patek Philippe Sa­lon on the Rue du Rhone in Geneva, Switzer­land. It also cap­ti­vated with a “live view” of Lake Geneva, and show­cased lim­ited edi­tion pieces cre­ated for the Amer­i­can mar­ket.

> The Museum room. Di­vided into two sec­tions: An­tique Collection (1600s-1900s) which pre­sented his­tor­i­cal time­pieces span­ning the last five cen­turies, in­clud­ing the ear­li­est watches ever made. The sec­ond sec­tion high­lighted Patek Philippe time­pieces dat­ing back to its in­cep­tion in 1839.

> The US His­toric room, a spe­cial room cre­ated for the ex­hi­bi­tion in New York. It show­cased sig­nif­i­cant time­pieces from his­toric Amer­i­can col­lec­tors. These in­cluded a quartz-pow­ered desk clock, which was pre­sented to Pres­i­dent John F. Kennedy by the mayor of West Berlin in June 1963 dur­ing Kennedy’s trip.

> The Rare Hand­crafts Gallery. Live ar­ti­sans demon­strated tech­niques used to dec­o­rate enamel time­pieces and dome clocks while show­cas­ing their skills. In this gallery, vis­i­tors learnt about the com­pany’s com­mit­ment to rare hand­crafts (past, present and fu­ture).

> The Watch­mak­ers’ room. In this room, Patek Philippe mas­ter watch­mak­ers took vis­i­tors on an ex­plo­ration of the in­ner work­ings of me­chan­i­cal time­pieces.

> The Grand Com­pli­ca­tion room. A rare glimpse at Patek Philippe’s most com­pli­cated and in­no­va­tive time­pieces.

> The Move­ment room, ded­i­cated to many dif­fer­ent types of Patek Philippe move­ments rang­ing from its more ba­sic Cal­ibers to those cre­ated for the most com­pli­cated time­pieces in the world.

— Pho­tos: Patek Philippe

A se­lec­tion of rare, hand­crafted time­pieces which were ex­hib­ited at the Art Of Watches Grand Ex­hi­bi­tion in New York.

— Pho­tos: Patek Philippe

Watch­maker demon­stra­tions were among the in­ter­ac­tive ac­tiv­i­ties at The Art of Watches ex­hi­bi­tion.

High­lights in the US His­toric room in­cluded this desk clock, which was pre­sented to Pres­i­dent John F. Kennedy by the mayor of West Berlin in June 1963 dur­ing Kennedy’s trip.

Joe DiMag­gio’s Ref 130 (1948)

James Ward Packard’s As­tro­nom­i­cal Pocket Watch (1925)

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