Patek Philippe has a long history of being a vigilant company: carefully guarding its heritage, and most importantly, commitment to its customers. Changes do not happen overnight at Patek Philippe, each one being cautiously considered, taking as much time as necessary to make a well-informed decision with purpose. The words “fad and trendy” do not exist in the Patek Philippe vocabulary, instead being replaced with the words “tradition and trust”. So it is that Philippe Stern and Thierry Stern, the family owners of Patek Philippe, started to consider the possibility of creating their own standard of excellence several years ago that is now the “Patek Philippe Seal”. Let’s have an inside look at the purpose and benefits that this decision brings to the Patek Philippe customer.
The purpose of the Patek Philippe Seal was to create a new, world recognized benchmark for Patek Philippe watches that would incorporate all of the standards that have always made a Patek Philippe watch special. This decision was not made in an egotistical manner but rather was aimed at formalizing and communicating what stands behind the Patek Philippe quality, internally and outside the company, and to bring a stronger guarantee of excellence to their customers. The directives of the Patek Philippe Seal are very strict, stronger than any other benchmark from any other watch company and most importantly envelop the watch in its entirety. And so after more than 120 years, Patek Philippe has started to replace the long standing Geneva Seal with the Patek Philippe Seal beginning in mid 2009. This change over will take approximately 2 years to complete and like the Geneva Seal will only apply to mechanical watches.
The Geneva Seal was established in 1886. The main purpose was to certify the quality of origin for watches being manufactured within the Canton (State) of Geneva, Switzerland and could not be used by watch companies located outside of the Canton of Geneva. The criteria of the Geneva Seal are pointed to the quality and finish of the movement parts only, governing the visual presentation of all components and their mechanical functionality. Time keeping accuracy, cases, dials, and all other aspects of a finished watch are not included in this criterion. The Patek Philippe Seal is not meant to replace the Geneva Seal, many other quality watches from other brands will continue with the Geneva Seal, while only watches manufactured by Patek Philippe will be endowed with the Patek Philippe Seal.
How and why, does the Patek Philippe Seal differ from the Geneva Seal? Firstly, the Patek Philippe Seal encompasses the entire watch that is being delivered to the customer as whole, not fractional pieces of the finished product. Of course all watches will continue to respect the exact standards of fit and finish that have always existed at Patek Philippe such as to meet a timing rate of -3/+2 seconds per day for watches with mechanical movements of more than 20 mm in diameter. This timing test is administered on the finished/complete watch in a dynamic manner that more accurately resembles real wearing conditions as compared to the current industry standard (COSC) that is carried out in static positions for the movement only. The reasoning here is simple, a customer purchases a watch, not only a movement, and expects his/her watch to keep accurate time. It is a well known fact that once a movement is fit into its case the overall accuracy will inevitably change, so guaranteeing the finished product accuracy is very important.
The Patek Philippe Seal goes far beyond the time keeping accuracy of every Patek Philippe watch. Each and every component is controlled numerous times prior to being assembled to create a watch, and controlled again as a completely finished Patek Philippe watch. By the time a Patek Philippe watch is completed there have been hundreds of quality assurance inspections carried out, and each inspection must meet the directives mandated by the Patek Philippe Seal, without exception. Even the precious gems used as adornments are not immune to the scrutiny of the Patek Philippe Seal as they must be of the highest quality (Top Wesselton) in all aspects and must be set to very exacting specifications. Never are adhesives used, and all gems are set in either radial, or linear positions in order to amplify their cut and brilliance.
Service is the final, and possibly most important, guarantee of the Patek Philippe Seal. To create a fine watch is only half the story, especially if there is nothing standing behind it after the sale. Patek Philippe has always stood behind every watch they have produced, no matter the age. The Patek Philippe Seal guarantees, in writing, that every aspect of your watch will be serviceable for many future generations. Great after sales service requires a strong and tight-knit structure between the manufacture, distributors, and retailers. Every watchmaker who services a Patek Philippe watch must complete continuous and vigorous training, which guarantees that every watch can be returned to the customer meeting original factory specifications.
It is the discipline of the Patek Philippe manufacture, and the personal guarantee of Philippe Stern and Thierry Stern, that puts weight behind the Patek Philippe Seal. They are the guardians of the Seal collectively. It is not by accident that your Patek Philippe watch keeps perfect time, your minute repeater sounds perfect, the case is of the highest quality in terms of finish and material content, and the movement parts are all hand-finished to the highest standards in the industry. There is no substitute for respect. Respect for watchmaking, respect for the customer, and most importantly, respect for the longevity of your watch and its relationship with the parent company, Patek Philippe.