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Origins

Origins

Patek Philippe has been perpetuating the tradition of Genevan watchmaking without interruption since May 1, 1839. As the last family-owned independent watch manufacturer in Geneva, it enjoys total creative freedom to entirely design, produce and assemble what experts agree to be the finest timepieces in the world – following the vision of its founders Antoine Norbert de Patek (1839) and Adrien Philippe (1845). Thanks to its exceptional know-how, Patek Philippe maintains a tradition of innovation hailed by an impressive repertoire of more than 80 patents.

During the twelve months preceding its 175th anniversary, Patek Philippe invites you to a journey through time and an encounter with the company’s founders.

1. Genealogy

Origins Genealogy

1812

June 12 or 14: Antoni Patek is born in Piaski (Voivodeship of Lublin) in southeastern Poland. He is the son of Joachim Patek (deceased April 7, 1828, in Warsaw) and Anna, née Piasecka. Patek has an elder sister Kataryna (born on August 20, 1801). Aged 16, Patek mourns the loss of his father and joins the Polish cavalry. He is assigned to the 1st regiment of the mounted carabiniers.

1811

April 4: František Czapek is born in Semonice (Bohemia). He is the son of Jean and Catherine Czapek. As a member of the National Guard, Czapek participates in the November Uprising in Warsaw. He is a trained watchmaker.

1815

April 16: Jean Adrien Philippe is born in La Bazoche-Gouet (Eure-et-Loir), a small town in Perche about 90 km southwest of Paris. He is the son of watchmaker Jean-Antoine Philippe and Marie Jeanne Catherine. He has two sisters – Jeanne Virginie (born on Feb. 9, 1814 ) and Hortense Elisabeth (Feb. 1,1818) – as well as two brothers – Antoine Céleste (Jan. 11, 1819) and Esther Auguste Felix (Aug. 28, 1820).

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Antoine Norbert de Patek

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Jean Adrien Philippe

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“Lublin” in Lesser Poland (1838)

2. Honors (Medal distinctions)

Origins Honors

1831

October 3: Antoni Norbert Patek is awarded the Golden Cross “Virituti Militari”. He is the 3489th recipient of this award – the highest Polish military distinction.

1877

Antoine Norbert de Patek received the title of Count of the Republic of San Marino (to the South of Rimini, a territory placed under the protection of Italy in 1862) in the year that he passed away.

1890

July 24: Jean Adrien Philippe is named Knight of the Legion of Honor. He received this highest decoration on November 8, 1890 from the Consul General of France in Geneva.

Jean Adrien Philippe’s titles: Eldest member of the French Community in Geneva, President and member of various charity societies, watchmakers having received several awards. Author of numerous inventions, Member and President of the jury at many exhibitions.

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Golden Cross of “Virituti Militari”

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Legion of Honor Cross

3. The historic buildings

Origins The historic buildings

1839

Incorporation of Patek, Czapek & Cie. The first manufacture was located on Quai des Bergues No. 29 in Geneva on the right bank of the Rhône.

1845

Adrien Philippe replaces Czapek and the Patek, Philippe & Cie company relocates to Quai des Bergues No. 15.

1853

The company leases space in a building between Grand Quai – on the left bank of the Rhône in front of the Port du Commerce – and Rue du Rhône 168 (which is subsequently renamed Rue du Rhône 41).

1891

Purchase of the building on Rue du Rhône. It is totally renovated by acclaimed architect Jacques Elisée Goss (1839-1921); around 1875, he also completed, among others, the Grand Théatre and the Hotel National that was later renamed Palais Wilson and became the headquarters of the League of Nations.

Including electrification, the renovation of the manufacture building took an entire year.

1907

The last modification of the building on Rue du Rhône 41 was the addition of one floor.

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Geneva, Quai des Bergues after 1835
(BGE, Centre d’iconographie genevoise).

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Geneva, Grand Quai, ca. 1855 (Patek Philippe Historic Archives).

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Patek Philippe Rue du Rhône 168, Grand Quai side, ca. 1895
(Patek Philippe Historic Archives).

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Patek Philippe Rue du Rhône 41, Grand Quai side, after 1907
(Patek Philippe Historic Archives).

4. Itineraries

Origins Itineraries

Antoine Norbert de Patek

arrived in Versoix, a small town a few kilometers away from Geneva, in 1835.

He had left Warsaw heading west in 1830 and in 1832 took up temporary residence in Bamberg, Germany, where he oversaw a committee of Polish refugees.

Further stopovers included Cahors, Amiens, and Paris.

In Versoix, he lived with Thomas Moreau, the uncle of the woman he would marry in 1839: Marie-Louise Adélaïde Elisabeth Thomasine Dénizard.

Jean Adrien Philippe

took a different route. In 1833, at the age of 18, he left his hometown to hone his skills as a watchmaker. For this purpose, he embarked on his journeyman’s years in France.

In his quest for perfection, he left Le Havre in 1836 and traveled to London, where he worked for a reputable watchmaker during the following three years.

After having returned to France, he chose Versailles as his domicile, but business was disappointing.

In 1845, he was invited to Geneva by Antoine Norbert de Patek to jointly pursue both men’s passion for watchmaking artistry.

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Jean Adrien Philippe

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Antoine Norbert de Patek

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Itineraries of Jean Adrien Philippe and Antoine Norbert de Patek

5. Succession (1): Antoine Norbert de Patek

Origins Succession (1): Antoine Norbert de Patek

Antoine Norbert de Patek

Aged 27, Antoine Norbert de Patek married Marie-Louise Adélaïde Elisabeth Thomasine Dénizart in 1839.

Three children are born in wedlock:

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Boleslas Joseph Alexandre Thomas on June 16, 1841,
deceased before his first birthday,

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Léon Vincent Miecislas on July 19, 1857,

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Marie Hedwige on October 23, 1859.

Antoine Norbert de Patek was 45 when his son Léon was born; he passed away at the age of 65.

At the time of his death on March 1, 1877, his son Léon was a law student and his daughter Marie Hedwige was married to Monsieur de Villette, a Savoyard nobleman.

Léon de Patek signed a contract in June 1877:

Mr. Léon de Patek allows Patek, Philippe & Cie to use his name subject to the following terms: he shall receive from Patek, Philippe & Cie a sum of 6000 francs per year, payable in quarterly installments ...”

Léon died on October 6, 1927, in Thonon les Bains; no Patek descendants succeeded him at Patek Philippe.

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Antoine Norbert de Patek

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Marie-Louise Adélaïde Elisabeth Thomasine Dénizart

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Contract between young Léon and Patek Philippe

6. Succession (2): Jean Adrien Philippe

Jean Adrien Philippe

Jean Adrien Philippe was born into a family of watchmakers and hoped that one of his five children would succeed him.

In 1851, at the age of 36, he married Anne-Marie Bailly. They had five children:

  • Louise Antoinette (born on July 24, 1853) married Antoine Barthélémy Bénassy, who worked for the Bank of France.

  • Anaïs Adrienne married Léon Jolly, director of a French bank.

  • Renée Justine Alexandrine married Londoner Charles Klug.

  • Jules Jean Marie.

  • Emile Joseph (born on June 24, 1862).

Only two of the children continued the family tradition:

  • Emile (1862-1907), a skilled watchmaker, joined the manufacture in 1885 and succeeded his father from 1892 to 1907.

  • Between 1878 and 1906, Louise’s husband Antoine Benassy (1849-1906) was employed as director of finance and administration. To emphasize his affiliation with the Philippe family, Benassy appended his wife’s maiden name to his and their six children’s last name.

Their successors are:

  • Emile’s son Adrien Alexandre Philippe, who joined the company in 1913. He first worked in the escapement department and then became director of sales. Between 1921 and 1933, he was a member of the board of directors.

  • From 1919 und 1921, Louise’s son Léon Pierre Benassy-Philippe worked as a watchmaker.

  • In 1921, Louise’s son Emile Marie Joseph Benassy-Philippe was appointed executive director. He was secretary of the board of directors until 1935 and remained a member of the board until he retired in 1951.

As from 1951, no descendants of the Philippe, Benassy-Philippe or Patek families were employed by Patek Philippe.

Family ties

Members of the Philippe and Benassy-Philippe families who were employed by Patek Philippe

7. Amendments of legal status

Origins Amendments of legal status

1839

Patek, Czapek & Cie. – manufacturers in Geneva

1845

The contract that binds Czapek and Patek is not renewed. They want to go their separate ways. Two new companies are founded:

  • Patek & Cie. – manufacturers in Geneva
    (A.-N. de Patek, J.-A. Philippe and attorney V. Gostkowski jointly establish the company.)
  • Czapek & Cie.

1851

Patek, Philippe & Cie – manufacturers in Geneva
(The previous partners incorporate the new company.)

1876

Patek Philippe & Cie

1883

Watch manufacture Patek, Philippe & Co., general partnership

1901

Former watch manufacture Patek, Philippe & Cie., joint-stock company

1933

Patek, Philippe & Cie, S.A.

1966

Patek, Philippe S.A.

2009

PATEK PHILIPPE SA GENEVE

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Pocket watch by Antoine Norbert de Patek; Patek, Czapek & Cie., Geneva (1839-1842)

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Pocket watch; Patek & Cie., Geneva (1845-1847)

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Demo model; Czapek & Cie., Paris (1849)

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Pendant watch; Patek, Philippe & Cie., Geneva (1854-1856)

8. With or without a comma...

Origins <u>With</u> or <u>without</u> a comma...

After having worked together with Antoine Norbert de Patek for six years, Jean Adrien Philippe insists that his name should be added to the company name.

Patek promises to append the name Philippe to the company name, but weeks go by and nothing happens. Shortly before departing to the Grand Exhibition in London, Jean Adrien Philippe demands that his name be integrated in the company name for that special day, but Patek stalls. When Adrien Philippe threatens to leave the company, Antoine Norbert de Patek ends the standoff and agrees to draft a new contract with the name Patek, Philippe & Compagnie.

According to Adrien Philippe, "Antoine Norbert de Patek could not warm up to this change and for a long time, the company sign still read Patek et Cie, as did the business stationery … under the pretext that the inventory of printed letterheads had to be used up first. And when we finally agreed on a new sign, he intentionally omitted the comma and placed the names so close together that there wasn't enough space to add the comma that I had so vehemently demanded."

The name Philippe is present on the showcase in London but not separated from Patek with a comma, which would have made it clear that the two names were those of two different people.

In his memoirs, Adrien Philippe commented:
"The signature [of Patek] gradually turned into a small combined masterpiece to create the impression in the general public that the two names were indeed a single name. His name written in prominent letters and mine in weakly traced letters appended to his like a little curlicue."

It wasn't until the death of Patek that Adrien Philippe modified the sign by adding "his" comma. Adrien Philippe probably wouldn't be pleased that the comma has been deemed obsolete since 2009 and was officially and irrevocably deleted again.

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Illustration with the Hôtel de la Couronne next to the
Patek Philippe & Cie. building (1855)

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Patek, Philippe & Cie. building (1890)

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Patek Philippe store (1965)

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Letter with the signatures of Patek and Philippe (1876)

9. The writings of Adrien Philippe

Origins The writings of Adrien Philippe

Publications

2 bound books:

  • Keyless timepieces, Paris 1863,
  • Horological studies at the 1878 Universal Exposition in Paris.
  • 10 articles in the Journal de Genève (9/18/1878 – 11/27/1878),
  • 19 articles in the Journal Suisse d’Horlogerie (1879 – 1881).

Manuscripts from historical archives

  • Over sixty writings consisting of notebooks and loose-leaf collections with which A. Philippe prepared the different versions of his publications.
  • Collection of autobiographical reminiscences in notebooks, undated.
    Manuscript with 57 pages.
  • A dozen notebooks with technical descriptions, compendium of his articles in the Journal Suisse d’Horlogerie:
  • Loose-leaf collection with technical notes,
  • Subject of first patent,
  • The invention of free springs,
  • The adjustment of watches (2 versions),
  • Mechanization of processes in watchmaking,
  • Notes on the division of labor,
  • The use of electricity in watchmaking,
  • The calibers introduced by Philippe at Patek (new calibers),
  • Design of winder in new calibers,
  • Notes for the Industrial Fair in Bern (undated, probably 1873), technical comments with acidic remarks about exhibitors from Western Switzerland, often perspicacious and aggressive.

Articles on the watchmaking school

Probably delivered a speech at the watchmaking school about his views concerning educational requirements. Loose-leaf collection, undated. He revisited the topic in several other of his publications.

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Keyless timepieces, by Adrien Philippe (1863)

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Horological studies at the Universal Exposition in Paris, by Adrien Philippe (1878)

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The Journal Suisse d’Horlogerie

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Some pages from notebooks and other texts by Adrien Philippe

10. The patents filed by Jean-Adrien Philippe in Geneva

Origins The patents filed by Jean-Adrien Philippe in Geneva

1845  -  French Patent No. 1317

"Mechanical system or device for winding and .handsetting of watches via the pendant This device can be used for all watch types, viz. ordinary watches, repeaters, marine chronometers, and even those with independent seconds." Patent application filed on June 5, 1845.

The watch is wound by turning the crown. The crown must be pulled to switch to the handsetting mode. The mechanism is characterized by the fact that the winding pinion and the winding stem are rigidly connected and crafted as one part.

1860  -  French Patent No. 46951

"Keyless watch, called Philippe watch." Patent application filed on November 13, 1860. Addendum filed on December 12, 1861.

1863  -  French Patent No. 58941, U.S. Patent No. 43464

"Mainspring and spring barrel for pocket watches and freestanding clocks." Patent application filed on July 30, 1863. Addendum filed on November 9, 1863. Second addendum filed on February 8, 1864. Mainspring referred to as "free" spring. The outer end of the mainspring is not attached to the inside of the spring barrel and can therefore slide in the drum, preventing fracture or overtensioning of the spring. This invention also enables two spring barrels to be wound simultaneously and is a precondition for all future developments of self-winding watches.

1881  -  French Patent No. 142376, U.S. Patent No. 173053

"Refinements of horological movements: Adjustment device on the balance cock of a watch referred to as Philippe precision regulator." Patent application filed on July 1, 1888. Precision fast/slow adjustment system for watches (micrometer device for precision adjustment of the index tail).

1891  -  U.S. Patent No. 20483

"Caliber." Patent application filed on January 13, 1891.

Ebauche based on a sketch by Jean-Adrien Philippe, fitted with a crown, a spring barrel ratchet wheel with a wolf-tooth profile (winding train) and a barrel arbor with a square pivot for the ratchet wheel.

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French Patent No. 1317 and descriptive memorandum (1845)

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French Patent No. 46951 (1860)

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U.S. Patent No. 43464, French Patent No. 58941, and addendum (1863)

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U.S. Patent No. 173053, French Patent No. 142376 and descriptive memorandum (1881)

11. The manuscripts of Antoine Norbert de Patek

Origins The manuscripts of Antoine Norbert de Patek

Manuscripts by Antoine Norbert de Patek from the historical archives

  • Two letters sent to Adrien Philippe in Paris in April 1845 inviting him to come to Geneva.
  • A letter to Adrien Philippe sent from London in which Patek reports that the keyless bow winder had garnered much praise (1847).
  • A folder with copies of the 35 letters sent to associates in Geneva from his travels in the USA in 1854–1855.
  • Accounts booklet with travel notes and expenses incurred during his long voyage in eastern Europe in 1858.
  • His diary/address book listing the best watch retailers, the most dependable banks, as well as the best and worst payers.
  • Copies of the 18 letters sent to his associates between 1874 and 1876. They were written in spas where Antoine Norbert de Patek received treatment for his rheumatism and anemia.
  • His testament written in 1871.

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Folder with 35 letters written by Antoine Norbert de Patek in the USA (1854–1855).

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Letter from Antoine Norbert de Patek from London (1847).

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Accounts booklet with travel notes and expenses incurred during his voyage in eastern Europe (1858).

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Letters from Antoine Norbert de Patek dated 1874 and 1876.

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Antoine Norbert de Patek's diary/address book.

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Antoine Norbert de Patek's testament (1871).

12. The Calatrava Cross

Origins The Calatrava Cross

The Calatrava Cross

A brand identity also includes graphic elements.

Around 1880, companies began to register their factory brands, which were sometimes associated with a logo.

  • The first brand registration for “Patek Philippe et Compagnie” was submitted in 1882 as the acronym “PP & C°”, accompanied by a decorative calligraphic curlicue which soon disappeared again. (1)
  • The Calatrava Cross was registered as a logo on April 27, 1887. (2)
  • The registration was renewed on January 25, 1908, with the explicit mention of the designation Calatrava Cross. (3)
  • Six new logos were registered in 1891, of which three featured the Calatrava Cross. This may have been done to prevent counterfeiting and fraudulent use of the logo. (4)

Two of these registrations were associated with “Patek-Genève” and “Patek et Cie-Genève” although these company names were never used in this form. These logos may have been submitted for registration because Patek Philippe wanted to prevent them from being used by unauthorized third parties.

The reasons that prompted Jean-Adrien Philippe and his partners at the time (Antoine Norbert de Patek had meanwhile passed) to adopt the Calatrava Cross are not known. Quite likely, it was the pleasing form of the cross with four fleur-de-lis, which are considered to be symbols of French royalty and can also be found on the coat of arms of the village in which Jean-Adrien Philippe was born. (5)

13. The birth of a great brand