Five Super Cool Things I Saw Inside The Patek Philippe Factory

I was thrilled to spend two days in Geneva with a little upstart company (that I think is really on to something!) called Patek Philippe.  While the news was really around hand-crafts and the preservation of both hand engraving and enameling (as demonstrated on the monster new 6002G Sky Moon Tourbillon), we were treated to a tour of the PP factory.  We saw a lot of amazing stuff, and  now for your viewing pleasure, here are five of the coolest things I saw while inside the Patek Philippe factory:

1.  These Two Perpetual Calendar Minute Repeater Pocketwatches

Minute repeaters are, in my very humble opinion, the ultimate complication.  They are beautiful, romantic, and each entirely unique.  They exemplify what makes traditional watchmaking so interesting.  They are also incredibly difficult to make.  Here are two vintage minute repeating pocket watches that just happen to be repeaters. Oh, and perpetual calendars.  While the first, with three sub-dials and moonphase at 12 o'clock is arguably more beautiful and traditional, the second with an "American" calendar display of three apertures - one next to the other - is really very interesting.  

2. A Prototype Star Caliber 2000

Caliber 89 is the most complicated watch Patek has ever made - more so than even the Graves Supercomplication.  Ranking third is the Star Caliber 2000 - which is what you see here.   Launched in 2000, complete with 21 complications, the Star Caliber was noted not only for its complexity but for its ease of use.  The perpetual calendar would sync automatically with the equation of time, sunrise, and sunset.  All date displays would auto-correct even if unwound for an extended period of time.  The watch plays the Westminster chime just as it sounds from the top of Parliament in London, and also sounds the hour and quarter, with minutes on demands.  The Star Caliber 2000 was made in five sets of four watches each - with a price of 13.2 million Swiss Francs (which was around $7m US at the time).  To see an early and unfinished prototype of one of the most famous and lauded Pateks of all time was really something special. 

3. This Giant Jean Kazés Clock

Ask a serious clock guy who makes some of the most interesting wall-bound timekeepers in the world and the list will surely include Jean Kazés.  Kazes is an ACHI member that is known for his sculptural "open air" designs.  Consider that the vast majority of clocks' movements are contained in a dust-proof encasement, while his are not.  The Kazés clock here sits just inside the main lobby of Patek Philippe and spans from the first to the second floor.  The clock was purchased by Philippe Stern some years ago and, well, to get an idea of just good Kazés is, consider where this clock is arguably the first thing you see when you enter Patek Philippe.  Kazés is now close to retirement, but another watchmaker - Mr. Vincent Calabrese - has decided to take over the work of Kazés and continue the tradition of these grand open-air clocks.  You can see more here.  

3.5 This Sign

No explanation necessary.

4. Two 5074's Sitting Next To Each Other

The 5074 is one of my favorite watches currently made by Patek Philippe.  It is oh so very them.  The perpetual calendar with cathedral gongs minute repeater is the type of watch that made PP who they are today and continues to keep them atop the horological hierarchy, so to speak.  The watch is just gorgeous, and it's the type of piece you could wear out to dinner and not a single person would notice you have something so valuable on your wrist.  At Patek HQ we got to see both a 5074R and a rare 5073 (same watch, in platinum, with full baguettes), sitting right next to each other.  Amazing stuff.  More on the 5074 here

5. The 5959P - Split-Seconds Mono-Pusher Chronograph In A 33mm Case

The 5959 is one of those watches that makes me fall in love with Patek Philippe all over again.  The thing makes no sense at all. But is so badass, it's almost indescribable.  Launched in 2005, the 5959 featured Patek's first fully in-house chronograph movement, and let's just say they left no doubt about their prowess as a chrono maker.  The 5959's caliber CHR 27-525 PS was, and still is, the thinnest column-wheel mono-pusher and split-seconds chronograph in the world.  Did I mention they put this monster (figuratively speaking, not physically) into a 33mm case? They did.  Why? Well, why not?  

Again, like the 5074, the 5959P is a watch that one could wear day in and day out, and I'd venture to say you could go months without someone questioning what you're wearing.  But, should you decide to take the watch off and turn it over, you'd see what is just an absolutely brilliant display of watchmaking.  Is 33mm too small for me? Absolutely. But I don't care. The fact that Patek would make a watch like this in this size is what makes them who they are.  You can read more on the 5959P here