Patek Philippe Rare Handcrafts 175th Anniversary Commemorative Editions

As heir to a great Geneva tradition, Patek Philippe is dedicated to preserving all the rare handcrafts that have been used to decorate timepieces for more than four centuries.

The best way to safeguard these ancestral skills for the future is to practice them regularly. This commitment provides the impetus for exceptional creations, often one-of-a-kind, celebrating techniques that were threatened with extinction, and sometimes enlisting the aid of the now scarce specialists still able to master their secrets.

To mark its 175th anniversary, the manufacture has created a rich array of timepieces that showcase the inventiveness and virtuosity of the world’s finest artisans.

Wristwatches, pocket watches and table clocks, produced as one-of-a-kind or in small editions, highlight the most beautiful legacies of the watchmaking tradition. Engraving, or the art of transforming a watchcase into a jewel. Enameling and its palette of sophisticated techniques.

Guilloché work, with its elegant geometric patterns. Gem-setting, imparting its magic to Haute Joaillerie. Wood marquetry, lending unique enchantment to a dial. Not to mention the creations that blend several of these disciplines in a single breathtaking work of art.

These exclusive 175th anniversary creations, whose theme was inspired by Geneva and its lakeside setting, are a brilliant tribute to the historical roots of one of the last independent, family-owned watchmaking firms.

Lake Geneva Barques (Calatrava Ref. 5089)
[Set of Four Calatrava Wristwatches with Dials in Cloisonné enamel]

These unique pieces, inspired by paintings in the personal collection of Philippe Stern, honorary president of Patek Philippe, depict the famous traditional Lake Geneva barques. The scenes, depicted on a background of line engraving, incorporate three different enamel finishes: opaque, transparent and opalescent.

Patek_Philippe_Commemorative_Watches_175th_Anniversary_Lake Geneva

30 to 40 different colors, and 13 to 25 cm of gold wire with a thickness of merely 0.05 mm, are used to create a finely detailed display of cloisonné enameling. The white gold case, its sapphire-crystal back protected by a hinged dust-cover engraved with “PATEK PHILIPPE 175e Anniversaire 1839 – 2014”, houses the ultrathin self-winding caliber 240. Case diameter: 38.6 mm.

Patek_Philippe_Commemorative_Watches_175th_Anniversary_Lake Geneva

Models

  1. 5089G-001 “Unloading at the Quai des Pâquis”: Dial inspired by a painting in oil on canvas by Louis Baudit (1870–1960) entitled Scene of Unloading at the Quai des Pâquis, dated 1951.
  2. 5089G-010 “The Espérance Loaded with Wood”: Dial inspired by a painting in oil on canvas by Louis Baudit (1870–1960) entitled The Espérance Loaded with Wood, dated 1951.
  3. 5089G-011 “The Lake and the Chablais Alps”: Dial inspired by a painting in oil on canvas by Arthur Herzog (1862–1913) entitled The Lake and the Chablais Alps seen from Montreux.
  4. 5089G-012 “Lake Geneva Barque Leaving Geneva”: Dial inspired by a painting in oil on canvas by Louis Baudit (1870–1960) entitled Lake Geneva Barque Leaving Geneva, dated 1936.

Breeze and Storm (Calatrava Ref. 5089)
[Set of Four Calatrava Wristwatches with Hand-Engraved Dials]

For these limited edition wristwatches, Patek Philippe has given new life to the oldest form of decorative art associated with watchmaking. The dials are hand- engraved with scenes of Geneva harbor and the fine old Lake Geneva barques with their characteristic lateen sails.

Patek_Philippe_Commemorative_Watches_175th_Anniversary_ Breeze and storm

Each white gold dial required up to 108 hours of work to engrave by hand, using the low-relief, or en modelé, technique. The depth of the engraving may be as much as three tenths of a millimeter.

The white gold case is fitted with a sapphire-crystal case back protected by a hinged dust-cover engraved with “PATEK PHILIPPE 175eAnniversaire 1839 – 2014”, enabling its owner to admire the architecture and finish of the ultra-thin self-winding caliber 240. Case diameter: 38.6 mm.

Patek_Philippe_Commemorative_Watches_175th_Anniversary_ Breeze and storm

Models

  1. 5089G-013 “Geneva Harbor”: Inspired by a watercolor by contemporary artist Patricia Rinaldi.
  2. 5089G-014 “The Neptune in the Harbor”: Inspired by an oil painting by Paul Léon Bléger (1889–1981).
  3. 5089G-016 “Storm over Lake Geneva”: Inspired by the painting Boatsby Louis Baudit (1870–1960).

Lakeside Scenes (Calatrava Ref. 5089)
[Set of Four Calatrava Wristwatches with Wood Marquetry Dials]

Inspired by old postcards of Lake Geneva with its traditional barques, the decoration of these limited edition wristwatches feature the rare and precious technique of wood marquetry.

Patek_Philippe_Commemorative_Watches_175th_Anniversary_Lakeside scenes

To create each of these dials, the marquetry master used up to 166 pieces of wood and 45 incrustations of 15 different species of wood, each of which he cut to shape, and assembled meticulously on a plate of solid gold.

The classic round Calatrava-style case houses the ultra-thin self-winding caliber 240, visible through the sapphire-crystal back and protected by a hinged dust-cover engraved with “PATEK PHILIPPE 175e Anniversaire 1839 – 2014”. Case diameter: 38.6 mm.

Patek_Philippe_Commemorative_Watches_175th_Anniversary_Lakeside scenes

Models

  1. 5089G-017 “Old Lake Geneva barque and Château de Chillon” (Postcard published in the early 20th century, from the Musée du Léman in Nyon: Naine-Robert & Co, Geneva, negative no. 1203, collotype before 1911.)
  2. 5089G-018 “Old Lake Geneva barque in Geneva harbor” (Postcard published in the early 20th century, from the Musée du Léman in Nyon: publisher and place unknown, negative no. 455, collotype enhanced with color, before 1904.)
  3. 5089G-019 “Old Lake Geneva barque with view of the Alps”(Postcard published in the early 20th century, from the Musée du Léman in Nyon: Jullien frères, Geneva, negative no. 1778B, b/w collotype, before 1904.)
  4. 5089G-020 “Old Lake Geneva barque in Geneva harbor” (Postcard published in the early 20th century, from the Musée du Léman in Nyon: Jullien frères, Geneva, negative no. 1413, collotype enhanced with color, before 1914.)

View of Geneva
[Pocket Watch With Hand-Engraved Case Back (992/152)]

This open-face pocket watch – a unique piece – gives center stage to one of the most emblematic views of Geneva. There is the Mont-Blanc Bridge and the Île Rousseau, with the historic Patek Philippe building on the rue du Rhône in the background, together with the hillside of the Old Town, and further back, the Salève.

Patek_Philippe_Commemorative_Watches_175th_Anniversary_ View of Geneva Pocket watch

The back of the white gold case has been fully engraved by hand, using the low- relief or en modelé technique, a process that required nearly 150 hours of work. The depth of the engraving may be as much as three tenths of a millimeter.

Patek_Philippe_Commemorative_Watches_175th_Anniversary_ View of Geneva Pocket watch

The manually wound caliber is housed beneath a dial of white enamel on a white gold base, with a subsidiary seconds dial and engraved hands. Case diameter: 44.1 mm. The watch is accompanied by a white gold stand bearing the Geneva coat of arms, on a base of veined white marble.

An Outing on the Lake
[Pocket Watch with Miniature Painting On Enamel Case Back (982/174)]

The ultra-sophisticated technique of miniature painting on enamel was often used to reproduce works by the great master painters. In this unique timepiece, the enameller pays tribute to a work entitled Partie de plaisir sur le lac (Pleasure trip on the lake) dated 1889, by the Swiss painter François Bocion.

Patek_Philippe_Commemorative_Watches_175th_Anniversary_Outing on the lake Pocket watch

To create this enchanting scene on the back of the yellow gold case, the artisan has used finely ground enamel powders mixed with rare oils and applied with tiny brushes – in the same way as paint on canvas.

This complex and minutely detailed process, advancing by a tenth of a millimeter a time, required more than 100 hours of enameling, ten enamel colors and from 12 to 15 firings at temperatures ranging from 750 °C to 800 °C. Case diameter: 44.1 mm. The watch is accompanied by a yellow gold stand set with a garnet cabochon, on a base of Macassar ebony.

Patek_Philippe_Commemorative_Watches_175th_Anniversary_Outing on the lake Pocket watch

Lateen Sails
[Pocket Watch with Marquetry Case Back and Hand-Engraving (982/179)]

Micro-marquetry in wood lends itself to magnificent adornments, with subtle colors and details of an extraordinary finesse – as seen in this unique piece in rose gold, with a fine old Lake Geneva barque decorating its case back.

Patek_Philippe_Commemorative_Watches_175th_Anniversary_Lateen sails Pocket watch

This decoration is composed of 25 different species of wood, 106 pieces and 30 tiny incrustations set into the marquetry. The hand-engraved rim of the case back forms an elegant frame. The bezel and bow are embellished with the same hand-engraved motif.

The manually wound open-face caliber, with power-reserve indicator and subsidiary seconds, marks the time on a dial in beige enamel over a rose gold base. Case diameter: 44.1 mm. The watch is accompanied by a rose gold stand set with a garnet cabochon, on a base of Macassar ebony.

Patek_Philippe_Commemorative_Watches_175th_Anniversary_Lateen sails Pocket watch

Patek Philippe’s alliance with Geneva was forged 175 years ago, but watchmaking has been intimately associated with decorative arts for over 400 years. During the turbulences of history, many artisans with rare skills found a haven in cosmopolitan Geneva and, working hand in hand with watchmakers, won global acclaim.

Patek Philippe consistently placed great emphasis on creating a stage for highly specialized forms of craftsmanship such as engraving, guilloching, enameling (cloisonné, champlevé, miniature painting, flinqué, plique-à-jour), marquetry, the jeweler’s arts, skeletonizing, and related techniques by giving them prominence on the cases, bracelets, and dials of its most precious timepieces. This remained a focus even in the period from 1950 to the end of the 20th century, when the demand for lavishly decorated watches dwindled.

In the 1940s, after having acquired Patek Philippe, the Stern family also began to collect the finest examples of these handcrafts as witnesses of the pinnacle of ornamental artistry. The private Patek Philippe Museum was inaugurated in 2001 to give the public access to these showpieces alongside the largest known collection of portable timekeeping instruments dating back to the 16th century.

Philippe Stern, the manufacture’s honorary president, and his son and current president Thierry Stern, were always aware of the fact that the artisanal skills needed to craft such sublime creations would not survive in a museum alone. They need to be practiced every day, refined, and handed down from one generation to the next.

Despite the entrepreneurial risks that were involved, a considerable effort was invested to reawaken the interest of enthusiasts in traditional Genevan handcrafts. As a result, the demand for timepieces with exquisite decorations rebounded.

The manufacture was able to recruit the last true masters of these arts and persuade them to share their know-how with up-and-coming craftspeople. Thus, precious knowledge has been saved from extinction at least for the next few years. In the meantime, the desirability of rare handcrafts watches has grown to such an extent that their buyers must exercise just as much patience as the artists who perseveringly adorn them by hand.

To commemorate this year’s 175th anniversary celebrations, Patek Philippe is presenting a number of limited edition Rare Handcrafts models that salute these incomparable artisanal skills. And no motif could be more appropriate than the city of Geneva with its landmarks, its citizens, and its harbor.

This is where Antoine Norbert de Patek was given a warm welcome in 1835. Four years later, he established the manufacture that was renamed Patek, Philippe & Cie. when the ingenious French watchmaker Jean-Adrien Philippe joined the company in 1851.

Since then, the company has remained loyal to the city of Geneva and still owns the original lake-view headquarters on Rue du Rhône to which it moved in 1853.

Incidentally, for many years, honorary president Philippe Stern was a respected regatta skipper on Lac Léman, as Genevans call their lake. In turn, it is famous for its traditional lateen-rigged sailboats and for the Bol d’Or Regatta, one of Europe’s foremost inland sailing competitions. Now, such motifs adorn a collection of forty unique or strictly limited-edition models featuring eclectic handcraft techniques to memorialize Patek Philippe’s 175th anniversary.

Years ahead of its 175th anniversary, Patek Philippe spared no effort to find and enlist the best specialists to convert forty commemorative timepieces into true paragons of artisanal and horological artistry: twenty wristwatches as well as twenty Dome table clocks and pocket watches with their respective holders. They all pay tribute to the different enameling, engraving, marquetry, guilloching, and gem-setting techniques, individually and in combinations.

Engraving

Burins, needles, chisels, and other sharp metal blades with wooden handles are among the tools used for engraving, the probably oldest technique with which timepieces have been embellished for hundreds of years. In the hands of an expert, engraving transforms the case of a pocket watch into a work of art with vivid contours and graceful reliefs that come alive as the light  caresses them.

The most commonplace techniques are line engraving, the somewhat deeper low-relief, and the prominently sculpted relief engraving. Nearly two hundred engravers were registered in Geneva alone in 1789; meanwhile, their ranks have dwindled to perhaps a dozen.

Enameling

The term encompasses a broad spectrum of traditional techniques that to this very day are used to adorn select Patek Philippe timepieces.

The most complex one is miniature painting on enamel, a world-famous Genevan specialty. Often, it involves reducing large paintings to the format of a watch with extreme fidelity. Executed with ultra-fine brushes, the process takes months and includes the application of countless translucent enamel coats as well as numerous firing passes.

Cloisonné enameling results in luminous and colorful decorations of an intensity resembling that of the richest stained glass. The motif elements are shaped with flat gold wire in thicknesses of 0.05 to 0.10 mm. The compartments thus created are filled with enamel paints and fired in an oven. In champlevé enamel, the form elements for a motif are engraved into the metal; the recesses are filled with an enamel compound and fired at over 800°C. Another tradition pursued by Patek Philippe is called flinqué.

This refers to a translucent enamel applied to a guilloched or engraved metal surface to create scintillating sunburst or undulated patterns. The fifth technique, called plique-à-jour, is reminiscent of colorful stained glass windows in churches. For this purpose, the metal is selectively pierced. The pierced portions are filled with an enamel compound and then fired.

Patek Philippe also nurtures the art of paillonné enameling, with which tiny gold- or silver-leaf spangles called paillons are embedded in the enamel. The shapes of the spangles are punched out of ultra-thin beaten silver and gold sheets with steel cutters and applied to a usually darker layer of enamel. Then, they are covered with a layer of highly transparent fondant enamel, which amplifies the sparkle of the sequin-like objects and protects them – in the case of silver against oxidation, for example.

Grisaille

The grisaille technique inspired by the Limoges school of enamelers has its roots in the Renaissance era and today is one of the rarest decorative art forms. A cross between painting and line drawing, it could also be referred to as ‘monochrome drawing with a brush’.

The grisaille artist creates a motif in so-called Limoges white on a dark, typically black enamel background. Extremely fine brushes or even needles are used to create structures in hairline dimensions. Depending on the complexity of the art, the blanc de Limoges is applied in three or four, but sometimes eight and more thin layers, creating very subtle monochrome gradations from black via gray to white.

Guilloching

Guilloching is a mechanical variant of engraving used to create regular patterns such as line grids, waves, intersecting circles, and other ornamental designs. The guilloching machine resembles a lathe. It has a multicam-controlled workpiece headstock that rotates and reciprocates to produce the guilloché patterns.

The decoration is created by a chisel point which cuts into the workpiece during these motion sequences. Patek Philippe still operates an in-house guilloching department with machines that are over one hundred years old. Because they are superbly maintained, they continue to produce manual guillochés of immaculate quality.

Wood marquetry

The result of this artisanal craft might be referred to as a wood mosaic that is frequently accentuated with precious metal inlays. To create richly detailed motifs for watch dials, the individual parts must be very small.

Master marquetarians work with extremely thin veneers and can choose from over 120 wood species with different colors and textures. The often tiny pieces are cut out of the veneer with a high-precision fretsaw and then assembled to form a complete image in a very time-consuming process. It can easily take an entire month to produce a marquetry dial.

Haute Joaillerie

The expertise of the jeweler encompasses elaborate gem-setting techniques that are consummately mastered at Patek Philippe. The unique pieces created in the Genevan ateliers unite all the major setting methods for precious stones such as bead, gridless pavé, and closed, as well as the extremely sophisticated invisible setting, which is considered to be the pinnacle of the jeweler’s craft and entrusted only to the most accomplished specialists. The directives of the Patek Philippe Seal require that precious stones must be set exclusively according to the highest jewelry-making standards.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.