Patek Philippe Celebrates the 20th Anniversary of its “Generations” Campaign and of the Patek Philippe Magazine

The year 1996 saw the inauguration of the manufacture complex in Plan-les-Ouates that united all ateliers under one roof, and the launch of the Annual Calendar that was to become an important brand ambassador.

It was also the birth year of an innovative advertising campaign and of a luxurious upscale magazine created explicitly for owners of Patek Philippe timepieces.

Twenty years later, subtly refined in the course of the years, the Generations campaign still has a strong emotional impact and delivers a coherent brand message; all the while, the Patek Philippe Magazine is deemed a benchmark in its genre.

It is published twice a year in eight languages with a circulation of 285,000 copies. This double success story perfectly matches Patek Philippe’s philosophy and a long-term strategy based on lasting values.

The Generations Advertising Campaign

Launched in the autumn of 1996, the Generations advertising campaign took a persuasively emotional approach, clearly distinguishing itself from conventional watch advertising in those days.

It placed the accent on the staunch and steadfast relationship between the owners of a Patek Philippe and their watches. The certainty of owning an exceptional creation that embodies a magnificent cultural, artistic, and scientific legacy. The assurance of having acquired a precious object that would serve as a companion across many generations.

The campaign developed by the London-based Leagas Delaney advertising agency places the customer in the focus rather than the product. It also differed from then-customary watch advertising in two further respects.

Instead of emphasizing the economic or occupational status of the target audience, it entered into the private domain and the emotional spheres that bond family members. And instead of hailing the past, it presented a dynamic, forward-looking vision which comes to the fore in the slogan “Begin your own tradition.”

To visualize this innovative concept, the campaign relied on photographs that express the affectionate relationships between mothers and daughters as well as fathers and sons. Times of togetherness between the generations. Moments of  earning and sharing.

Four-hand piano playing, the first tie knot, the first shave, a fishing excursion for two, discoveries in sports, glances that meet – many intimate and precious occasions to which everyone can relate. They are depicted in scores of timeless black-and-white pictures accompanied by the somewhat provocative headline “You never actually own a Patek Philippe. You merely look after it for the next generation.” And the watch is discreetly placed in each of these settings.

All these real-life moments were captured by world-famous photographers – Peggy Sirota, Peter Lindbergh, Jeanloup Sieff, Mary Ellen Mark, Ellen Von Unwerth, Marden Smith, Glen Luchford, Craig McDean, Veronique Vial, Robert Wyatt – who with great sensitivity imbued the campaign with their very personal signatures. In the course of the years, the campaign was subtly evolved without diluting the clarity of its message or recognizability.

Some photographs made it possible to showcase certain watch collections, such as maritime visuals for the Nautilus models. To accommodate the curiosity and the growing horological competence of the public, more priority was accorded to product information as well.

In two decades, the Generations campaign had a decisive impact on the realm of watch advertising. It contributed to the growing popularity of Patek Philippe, not only among connoisseurs, but also within the public at large, helping as well to appeal to younger customers.

In 2007, its assertiveness and uniqueness were doubly saluted by the “Prix suisse de la campagne horlogère de l’année” (Swiss award for watch advertising of the year), once conferred by a professional jury and once by the public.

Since 2013, the Generations concept has also been at home in the digital media where online videos showcase very private moments between fathers and sons or mothers and daughters at many different locations in the world. Four new ads (two for men’s and two for ladies’ watches) were released in the fall of 2016, adding new zest and freshness with photos featuring three generations.

Twenty years – roughly one generation – after its launch, this significant international Patek Philippe campaign with meanwhile nearly 50 ad themes has established itself as a role model for longevity and enjoys unique standing in the watch advertising segment, if not in advertising per se.

This lasting success is due to the strong emotional statement, to its universal validity, but also to its perfect congruence with the beliefs of Patek Philippe customers and with the values of an independent family-owned manufacture that is traditionally handed down from father to son.

Patek Philippe Magazine

The idea behind the Patek Philippe Magazine launched in 1996 is credited to Philippe Stern, then the president of the manufacture.

He wanted to share the cultural universe and the values upheld by the company with its customers. The concept was developed by a London-based publishing house that belonged to the Condé Nast Group. It provided access to world famous contributors, journalists, writers, and photographers, making it possible to create a magazine at the pinnacle of cultural and artistic quality.

The luxurious publication is reserved for owners of Patek Philippe watches, addressing the main interests and lifestyles of a clientele with exquisite taste. It covers a broad spectrum of topics from fine arts and architecture, fashion, design, craftsmanship, music, film, photography, and science to travel reports, not to mention portraits of distinguished personalities of our era. Many topics are directly associated with the values of Patek Philippe, not least artisanship, tradition, innovation, independence, and exclusivity.

The Patek Philippe Magazine offers its readers privileged access to the world and behind the scenes of the manufacture, featuring articles about its latest debuts and technical achievements, but also about legendary timepieces, the history of individual collections, and the many skills pursued in the manufacture’s ateliers – both in watchmaking and in rare handcrafts.

In the twenty years since it first appeared, the Patek Philippe Magazine has established an outstanding reputation for its appealing content and editorial quality.

It has been able to benefit from the contributions of many prominent authors, among them José Saramago and Gao Xingjian, winners of the Nobel Prize in Literature, world-famous writers such as Carlos Fuentes, John Fowles and Jung Chang, as well as highly talented chroniclers including Peter York, Will Self and Nick Foulkes.

The equally superb visual material has been created by eminent photographers such as Eve Arnold, Lord Snowdon, Elliot Erwitt, Don McCullin, Rene Burri, Wim Wenders, Jason Bell, Simon Norfolk, Gautier Deblonde and John Swannell.

With its understated, elegant graphic style that reflects the image of Patek Philippe timepieces, the Patek Philippe Magazine appears twice a year with a circulation of 285,000 copies sent to owners of Patek Philippe watches in nearly 175 countries; this is equivalent to a readership of about 600,000 people.

Today, it is published in eight language editions (English, French, German, Italian, Spanish, traditional and simplified Chinese, and Japanese).

The publishing house team places great emphasis on adapting the content to the different linguistic and cultural idiosyncrasies as opposed to verbatim translations. Recent surveys have confirmed that this is highly appreciated by readers who consider the magazine an excellent information source for general topics but also for everything that concerns Patek Philippe.

With its stylish design and intelligent content, the Patek Philippe Magazine has become a veritable collector’s item among friends of the brand, just like the timepieces that it portrays with such panache.

In 2011, the manufacture took a step further and paired the print magazine with the online “Patek Philippe Magazine Extra” format that is accessible at exclusively for owners of Patek Philippe watches.

The content, developed to complement the print magazine, includes interviews with artists, writers, and collectors as well as “the-making-of” videos and previously unpublished archive material.

Exclusive encounters with key personalities of the manufacture, such as president Thierry Stern or Sandrine Stern, the directrice of the creation department, open up fascinating hands-on opportunities to observe typical daily activities at Patek Philippe, work in the ateliers, and sources of inspiration tapped by the master artisans.

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