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- Patek Philippe Salons
Now the historic manufacturing headquarters of Patek Philippe has been put at the disposal of its customers, for whom this hallowed building is a kind of spiritual home known simply as “the salon.” During the nineteenth century, Patek Philippe took over the entire building, floor by floor; when the company bought the premises outright in 1891, a decision to renovate was made. The company called on celebrated architect Jacques-Elisée Goss, who constructed a splendid, entirely new, and classically beautiful building.
It was perhaps the innovations inside that truly signaled Goss’s radical achievements. A pioneer of the nascent modern movement, he equipped the basement with powerful electrical generators – technically revolutionary for the time – providing electric lighting in all rooms, as well as a supply of energy to drive the tools and machines.
Goss’s design improved working conditions immeasurably: no other workshops could compare in terms of hygiene standards or the technical resources provided to enhance the quality of an employee’s work. Goss’s final coup was to install a central heating system in the basement, providing warmth for the entire building and allowing each room’s temperature to be independently regulated – an almost inconceivable luxury in those days.
A final restructuring took place between 2004 and 2006, when Philippe Stern decided, among other things, that when you entered the ground floor Salon, you would be embraced by a vision: windows showing the entire Patek Philippe collection in all of its splendor. After all, for years this building brought together on its higher floors every skill and profession needed to create those tiny ticking universes. The very structure is soaked in a love for and knowledge of the craft of watchmaking.
To enter the belle epoque Salon, with its soaring double-height collection room, is to breathe a sigh of contentment and delight. The walls are clad in soothing dark wood, with leather from Córdoba on the facades. The historical Salon is lit by the majestic original chandelier from Maison Baguès, the Parisian company whose work can be seen at Versailles and The Ritz in London; for the modern showroom, Baguès has created a cascading new chandelier which casts its shimmering glow on a backlit alabaster wall. Two antique Tiffany safes, bought from Tiffany when that company left Geneva in 1876, add handsome period charm.
Above all, in this sumptuous, effortlessly calm environment, there is a feeling of quiet intimacy and welcome – it’s a place to look, linger, and joyously experience.
In 1995, the Salon was moved to its present, and rightful, location in the Place Vendôme, where it sits very happily not just in one of the most luxurious squares in the world, but in the heart of an area devoted to jewelry and watchmaking. In September 2009, Paris unveiled its sleek, sculpted, newly renovated Salon; the company celebrated the moment with a radical gesture, launching the very first ladies’ chronograph watch here – until that time, Patek Philippe watches had always been launched in Geneva.
The Paris Salon has a touch of the same captivating elegance that you’ll find in Geneva. With windows in one of the angled corners of this illustrious square, the frontage is discreet – similar, perhaps, to that of an embassy. But step inside, and one seems to be entering a jewel box. The exquisite art deco furniture and richly detailed paneling bring to mind a sumptuous carriage on the Orient Express: warm, soft light floods from table lamps, while opulent chandeliers drench the rooms, evoking a sense of occasion.
Stylized, curved wrought iron on the mezzanine adds to the timeless je ne sais quoi. The glamorous, very singular ambience of this art deco interior delights visitors with its nod to the history of French art, and is consistent with the architecture of the Place Vendôme, most of whose facades are classified as historical monuments. Above all, there is the same warm welcome, whether for a father buying a watch he will hand on to his son, or a chic lady dropping off her beloved Twenty~4® to be serviced.
London has become, perhaps, the crossroads of the world; a fast-paced, vibrant city where tradition meets the utterly modern. Fittingly, the Patek Philippe Salon sits on a crossroads in the very center of Bond Street – that lively, fashionable hub for visitors, browsers, and shoppers; and a byword for cultivated good taste.
The London Salon was for years a bijou space of just over 900 square feet; in 2014, it blossomed when the Stern family was able to acquire 16 New Bond Street. Now, with an area of about 4300 square feet on two floors, the Salon wraps itself smoothly around a street corner and benefits from gloriously airy double aspect windows, which bathe the interior in natural light. The interior is inspired by art deco in a contemporary interpretation.
Here, the mind and soul can expand as the outside hubbub fades away, and one can relax and take in the timepieces at leisure. Above, modernistic chandeliers made for this space cast their gently luminous glow over everything, including artworks selected personally by the Stern family, many of them brought from France. The palette of colors ranges from bright beige to bronze with clever touches recalling the rue du Rhône Salon, such as the tactile, textured surface of the pale leather wall.
But the most vital aspect is the creation of these precious, infinitely precise watches. And in the London Salon a window has been created into the service department so that customers can see watchmakers working on – perhaps even their own – timepieces, using exactly the same machines that created the watch in Geneva. It’s a thrilling glance into the soul of Patek Philippe.
And if a customer would like to discuss something privately, there is another area – not a VIP room, since every customer here is a VIP, but what Patek Philippe have called the “celestial room,” named after a very special watch – where one can have a quiet conversation.
As with Geneva and Paris, Honorary President Philippe Stern and his wife Gerdi have overseen every aspect of the Salon’s creation. They see the salons as extensions of their own living room, and feel that they are welcoming you into their home. So here too, you’ll be greeted with a smile, a coffee, a glass of water, or perhaps a cup of Earl Grey tea, served in the most delicate of china. No hurry, no rush. You can relax and concentrate on the dazzling stars of the show.
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