Thursday, February 20, 2014


If you go to Geneva and did not visit Patek Philippe Watch Museum, then you did not visit Geneva at all and you might as well have stayed home in KL and watched ASTRO cable TV!
Entrance to Patek Philippe Watch Museum
Patek Philippe Watch Museum boasts over 2,000 watches!

This is simply the best, finest, most important and most valuable watch museum in observable universe. The over 2,000 pieces on display make my collection of 32 solid gold watches pale into insignificance! 

Entry costs a mere RM 32 and you must allow 3 hours minimum to enjoy oogling at the watches! No Patek Phillip watches are for sale here and only 1 floor out of 3 is devoted to Patek Philippe watches.

Georges Villiers, Duke of Buckingham, miniature portrait 1640

 Open face , key-less fib watch presented to Queen Victoria in 1850 during the Great Exhibition of London at Crystal Palace (now Hyde Park) 
 Calibre 89, the world's most complicated timepiece ever made! It took 5 years to develop and research and 4 years to physically make it, totally 9 years. 
Calibre 89, the world's most complicated timepiece

Total development time: 9

years Research and development: 5 years
Production: 4 years

Total diameter: 88,2 mm. - Total thickness: 41 mm. - Total weight: 1100 grams - Case: 18 ct. Gold

Number of components: 1728
including: 184 wheels - 61 bridges - 332 screws - 415 pins - 68 springs - 429 mechanical parts - 126 jewels - 2 main dials - 24 hands - 8 display dials

Functions: Hours, minutes and seconds of sidereal time - Time in a second time zone - Time of sunset and sunrise - Equation of time - Tourbillon regulator - Perpetual calendar - Century leap year correction - Date of the month - Century, decade and year - Day of the week - Months - Four-year cycle - Sun hand (season, equinox, solstice, zodiac) - Stars chart - Age and phases of the moon - Date of Easter - Chronograph - Split-seconds - 30 minute recorder - 12 hour recorder - "Grande sonnerie" with carillon - "Petite sonnerie" with carillon - Minute-repeater - Alarm - Going train power-reserve indication - Striking train power-reserve indication - Striking train stop work - Twin barrel differential winding - Four-way setting system - Winding-crown position indicator.

The Holy Family watch in the shape of a heart by Johann Martin, Augsburg 1675

Inaugurated in Geneva in 2001, the Patek Philippe Museum presents one of the most important and precious timepiece collections ever compiled. With over 2,000 watches, automata, art objects, and miniature portraits on enamel, it offers visitors a fantastic journey through the 500-year heritage of watchmaking artistry in Geneva, Switzerland and Europe. 

Additionally, it shows a very complete panorama of Patek Philippe watches since the manufacture was established in 1839. Located in a historic building in the middle of Geneva's Plainpalais district, the museum is deemed the “true temple of watchmaking,” dedicated to the industry's specialists but also to interested connoisseurs and visitors from all over the world.


The Patek Philippe Museum is the manifestation of the unbridled passion of Philippe Stern, the
honorary president of the Geneva-based workshops. Mr. Stern was exceptionally successful in evolving the family-owned enterprise and discovered his enthusiasm for collecting watches very earlyon. In the 1960s, his interest was focused on Patek Philippe watches, especially the complicated
timepieces. Around 1980, he broadened his pursuit to include watches that represented horological milestones since the 16th century, and also collected precious Genevan enamels, a world-famous specialty of the city on the Rhône River.

 In the course of the decades, this is how Philippe Stern assembled one of the most magnificent timepiece collections of our era. But he did not collect these masterpieces of technology and aesthetics for his own enjoyment. He wanted to make these witnesses

of extraordinary watchmaking prowess accessible to the general public and proliferate the eminence of Geneva as a cradle of haute horlogerie. And thus, he gradually felt the desire to build a museum for his collection.


An exceptional collection deserves an exceptional sanctuary: In the end, the Patek Philippe Museum was accommodated in a fantastic early 20th-century industrial property after it had been tastefully restored. It is located at 7 rue des Vieux-Grenadiers in the Plainpalais district of Geneva and can look
back on a proud past in watchmaking and related artisanal crafts. It had been built in 1919 and 1920 according to the blueprints of a reputable architect and was subsequently home to gem polishers, jewelers, and the jewelry studios of a famous Genevan watchmaking company.

 In 1975, it was acquired by Patek Philippe on behalf of Ateliers Réunis, which manufactured watch cases, bracelets and chains there. After this workshop moved to the new Patek Philippe manufacturing complex in Planles-Ouates, the building was temporarily vacant; it was then that Philippe Stern decided to present his collection here. The structure was completely renovated between 1999 and 2001, and a floor was added true to the style of the original architecture.

 Philippe Stern entrusted his wife Gerdi with the interior design of the four floors, each spanning 700 m2, and she endowed them with the warm and sublime ambiance of a private salon. The opening ceremony finally took place in November 2001, giving the Patek Philippe Museum the opportunity to present its collections in a framework that was befitting of the technical, artistic, aesthetic, historic, and scientific substance of the exhibits.

The Patek Philippe Museum is not devoted to one brand. It is a globally unique venue dedicated to five hundred years of watchmaking artistry and also accommodates the crafts that have always been intimately associated with timepieces: engraving, enameling, gemsetting, and many others.

Accordingly, the museum collections are presented in two sections. The second floor is an anthology of the history of mechanical timepieces from its early beginnings in the 16th century and extending into the 19th century. It includes exceptional treasures such as a drum watch dating back to about 1530-40, and

an incredible selection of fancy timepieces from the early 19th century. To a great extent, this antique collection is dedicated to timekeeping instruments produced in Geneva, but it also exhibits many unique pieces from other European workshops. It is rounded out with a department for automata and a stunning collection of miniature enamel portraits that testify to Geneva's stature in this domain.

The first floor gives visitors an overview of Patek Philippe's most beautiful creations since 1839, with incomparable masterpieces such as the impressively famous Calibre 89, the world's most complicated portable timepiece, and precious watches that once belonged to royalty, complicated pocket watches and wristwatches, acclaimed Art Deco models, and many other remarkable accomplishments for which

the manufacture can take credit. Overall, some 1,000 timepieces trace the proud history of the famous Genevan watch brand.

The instructive function of the museum comes to the fore particularly on the third floor, which houses a library of more than 8,000 books on watchmaking and related topics. In addition to its permanent collections, the museum also hosts temporary special exhibitions that accent particular themes, such as The “Montres Royales” in 2005, “Les Montres Chinoises” in 2010 or “Timepieces signed Rousseau”

in 2012. For an entire weekend every spring, the museum offers free admission during its open-house days with complimentary tours and in-depth insights into the art of watch restoration as practiced in a specially equipped atelier.

Opening hours:

Tuesday – Friday: 2 pm to 6 pm
Saturday: 10 am to 6 pm
Closed on Sundays, Mondays, and holidays
Public tours every Saturday: in French at 2 pm, in English at 2:30 pm.
Private tours in 8 languages by appointment via 022 807 09 14 or

A short tour
The Museum proposes a visit that begins on the ground floor and continues on to the third, the second, and finally the first floor.

All these tools and equipment are in working order! 
1. Ground floor: Collection of antique tools, watch restoration workshop

2. Third floor: Patek Philippe archives and library

3. Second floor: Antiques collection from the 16th to the 19th centuries

4. First floor: Patek Philippe collection from 1839 until today.

Ground floor

Collection of antique tools, watch restoration workshop

The ground floor of the Patek Philippe Museum accommodates old workbenches used by

watchmakers, jewelers, engravers, and enamel artists, transporting visitors to the atmosphere of venerable ateliers of a bygone era. A collection of over one thousand tools and machines from the 18th to the mid-20th century offers visitors a glimpse into the steps involved in manufacturing a timepiece, from the fabrication of individual components (wheels, pinions, balances, hairsprings, etc.) to the
various methods with which cases and dials were decorated (polishing, engraving, enameling, guilloching, gemsetting, etc.).

To complete this nostalgic stage dedicated to traditional values, a watchmaker specializing in the restoration of antique watches, mechanisms, and tools works in the visitor’s presence, in a glassed-in cabinet reminiscent of the ateliers used by the original Genevan cabinotiers. Occasionally, he will use the same tools that served his predecessors long ago.

As an introduction to the fascination that lies ahead, visitors can attend the screening of the film Un héritage de génie (the heritage of ingenuity).

The third floor of the museum is devoted to the history of Patek Philippe and safeguards excerpts from the archives that document the great moments of the manufacture since it was founded in 1839. The archive cases recall the company's founders, displaying among others the handwritten letters detailing Antoine Norbert de Patek’s trials and tribulations on his extraordinary business trip to the United States
around 1850, as well as numerous technical notebooks, sketches and original drawings by Jean-Adrien Philippe.

Visitors can peruse individual editions of the 800 archive books in which Patek Philippe – for over 170 years – has been recording important information about all timepieces ever made in its workshops.

Customer journals are on display as well, including the one that lists Queen Victoria of England. Two framed medallion mirrors on the wall are reminders of the prizes awarded to the workshops for their results in chronometry competitions. They testify to the incredible spirit of innovation and technical superiority of the manufacture, manifested not least in the domain of rate accuracy.

An authentic replica of the office of Henri Stern, Philippe Stern's father and current president Thierry Stern's grandfather, emphasizes the family ties that characterize this last independent manufacture in Geneva.

The third floor also accommodated the splendid library on time measurement and related disciplines as well as miniature enamels and enamel painting. Among some 8,000 books from the 16th century to the present, visitors can view extremely precious and rare works such as selected writings by Galileo Galilei (1564–1642), hairspring inventor Christiaan Huygens (1629–1695), and Isaac Newton (1642–

1727), as well as all grand treatises on watchmaking written in the 18th and 19th centuries. Theinventory also includes many newer books on the history of watches and their technology, philosophical analyses of time as a phenomenon, and countless catalogs featuring watches and miniature portraits.



With thousands of unique exhibits, the second floor of the Patek Philippe Museum offers a very

comprehensive overview of the history of mechanical watches and the different artistic disciplines used to decorate them.
The tour begins with the emergence of the first portable timepieces in the early 16th century and showcases some of the most fetching examples of that era, among them an extremely precious gilt and chased German drum watch dated 1530–1540 that could be worn as a pendant. Until about 1675, the still rather inaccurate watches were primarily objects of prestige that testified to the wealth and
cultural enlightenment of their owners. This also explains why so much attention was devoted to decorations and the diversity of shapes. Many bizarre creations originated from that era, such as watches in the form of the Cross of the Order or the Holy Spirit, of a human skull, or of a dolphin.

 The early 17th century, first in France and then elsewhere in Europe, marked the advent of the first watch cases and dials with enamel paintings. Many masterpieces in the Patek Philippe Museum epitomize this craft that uses luminous and intense colors to depict mythological or religious themes, often

inspired by the epoch's most famous artists.
Next, visitors are acquainted with the early days of Genevan watchmaking. The art of watchmaking came to Geneva with the Huguenots (French protestants) who fled to the Calvinistic city toward the end of the 16th century to escape religious persecution.

 Here, it evolved into a genuine tradition as evidenced by a collection of timepieces that demonstrate the ultimate in technical competence and unique decorative skills. Artisans in Geneva also devoted themselves to miniature paintings on enamel, refining the technique to a degree of perfection that since then remains unmatched.

A new epoch in watchmaking began when Christiaan Huygens invented the balance spring in 1675.

From then on, it was no longer necessary to reset watches several times a day. The watch transformed itself from an object of prestige to a precision instrument with a daily rate accuracy deviation of merely one or two minutes. The Patek Philippe Museum pays tribute to the beginnings of scientific horology

toward the end of the 17th century and its remarkable evolution well into the 18th century with exquisitely refined timepieces of impressive precision, many endowed with additional complications.

The exhibits include the so far oldest known watch with a minute hand (crafted in London between 1675 and 1680), the first Lépine calibers that enabled the construction of slender cases, a French quarter-repeating carriage clock with grand and small strike, English timepieces, the first watches with seconds hands (dating back to the mid-18th century), about a dozen significant watches made by Abraham-Louis Breguet, and countless further technical treasures.

During the Age of Enlightenment, the accent shifted perceptibly to aesthetics, and watchmakers invested as much effort in the exterior elements and decorations of their watches as in the movements.

The cases were lavishly embellished with a wide variety of artisanal techniques. Movements were integrated in rings or in the handles of walking sticks. Ladies' watches, worn as pendants or chatelaines attached to belts, became sparkling manifestations of the master jeweler's art. The faces of dials were highly varied, featuring telescoping hands that followed the perimeter of oval bezels, small

figurines with arms that functioned as hands, or delicately pierced decorative scenes and other
whimsical ornamentations.

The famous Genevan “fabrique” which brought together under one roof all watchmaking professions as well as specialists in related fields, gained global fame for its prolific creativity. Beyond watchmaking, the city of Geneva became a hub of enamel arts with a focus on miniature painting on enamel as well

as complementary techniques that could be used to decorate watches and other precious items –champlevé enamel, cloisonné enamel, enamel on guilloched metal, paillonné enamel (fine gold flakes embedded in transparent enamel), and not least the famous “fondant genevois” (Genevan flux), which was invented toward the end of the 18th century and imbued the creations from Geneva with their incomparable luminosity.

The museum's showcases present scores of creative techniques in stunning displays that offer a complete synopsis of Geneva's heritage in enameling. These exhibits are complemented by a unique collection of miniature portraits on enamel, many bearing the signature of the most celebrated artists of their time.

A wave of eccentric trends characterized the late 18th century and also had an impact on watchmaking until about 1830. It was the golden age of the so-called fancy timepieces, and they, too, are well represented in the treasured collection of the Patek Philippe Museum. The fashionable timepiece was

no longer content to tell the time but instead assumed the guise of musical instruments, animals, insects, flowers, fruit, baskets, or keys – or was integrated in various items of daily use, such as knives, tobacco jars, candy boxes, perfume flasks, sewing kits, opera glasses, etc.

 As tourism gained momentum, the first souvenirs designed as mementos of a trip to Geneva, Montreux, or the Alps appeared.

Deemed the pinnacle of mechanical virtuosity, the art of automaton construction was highly popular at this time and is represented in the Patek Philippe Museum with awe-inspiring exemplars – animals, for instance, that move with stunning fluidity, singing birds that tweet melodies and beat their wings, perfume pistols, watches with automata on their dials, as well as several musical automata.

The tour of the second floor ends in the section that displays the Genevan watches produced for the Turkish market from the last quarter of the 18th to the mid-19th century. Lavishly decorated, these timepieces feature very special numerals and usually floral decorations.

The watches crafted in Geneva for the Chinese market were especially intriguing because they were nearly always made in pairs. This idiosyncrasy inspired the Genevan watchmakers to ever greater finesse, culminating in watch twins with mirror-image decorations.


The first floor of the Patek Philippe Museum is reserved entirely for the manufacture's creations from 1839 to 1989, complemented with a few more recent chefs-d'oeuvre. Ranging from pocket and pendant watches to wristwatches and mantle clocks, the nearly 1,000 extraordinary timekeeping instruments on display provide an all-encompassing retrospective of one of the most creative

manufactures of all time.

Mechanical watches had already been known for almost 350 years when the Polish count Antoine Norbert de Patek resolved to establish a manufacture in Geneva with his countryman François Czapek.

 During the first years, production mainly targeted the Polish market as evidenced by many early timepieces with religious or patriotic motifs. It was in Paris in 1844 that Patek met Jean-Adrien Philippe, who had invented the stem winding system that eliminated the need for a separate key, and the two men decided to join forces. With its technically and aesthetically superior timepieces, the manufacture quickly earned a solid reputation. At the Great Exhibition in London in 1851, one of the

first keylessly wound watches even piqued the fancy of Queen Victoria.

 Today, this timepiece can be admired in one of the museum's showcases, right next to the first Swiss ladies' wristwatch that was crafted for a Hungarian countess in 1868.

The end of the 19th century saw the inception of the Art Nouveau period, with its sinuous lines and shapes inspired by the realm of plants. Patek Philippe rose to the occasion with what is probably one of the most creative and refined portfolios, encompassing countless timepieces with precious decorations based on a vast range of techniques such as engraving, guilloching, enameling, and gemsetting.

By the end of World War I, the Art Déco epoch emerged with its lucid geometrical forms that found fascinating expressions in Patek Philippe watches. Wristwatches began to supplant pocket watches, presenting themselves with cushion- or tonneau-shaped, rectangular and square cases of timeless beauty; on occasion, they still provide inspiration for the manufacture's contemporary models.

From 1902 to about 1930, the “Chonometro Gondolo” timepieces – produced exclusively for watch retailer Gondolo & Labouriau – were marketed in Brazil solely to members of the Patek Philippe Club with an original lottery-type selling scheme.

The Calatrava was launched in 1932. Its design followed the rules of the minimalist Bauhaus

philosophy, and it spawned one of the most iconic collections ever conceived by Patek Philippe.

But apart from its effervescent creativity in timepiece design, Patek Philippe from the very beginning demonstrated its peerless competence in the construction of “complications” – the term which denotes

all functions that transcend the display of hours, minutes, and seconds.

 The most beautiful exemplars among the manufacture's complicated timepieces are displayed in two rooms, one for pocket watches,

the other for wristwatches. The exhibits include astronomical watches, tourbillons, perpetual calendars, minute repeaters, timepieces with grand and small strikes, chronographs (among them the world's first split-seconds chronograph launched in 1923), watches with an equation of time, etc.

 Patek Philippe's famous World Time watches and complicated timepieces crafted explicitly for ladies, such as the 1916 five-minute-repeater, are presented here as well.

Visitors can unveil the secrets of the Calibre 89, the world's most complicated portable timepiece (33 complications), which was crafted by Patek Philippe on the occasion of its 150th anniversary in 1989.

 It took nine years to develop the three key complication types (calendar, chronograph, and repeater) to an unmatched degree of perfection and to supplement them with exotic astronomical complications such as the date of Easter, sidereal time, an equation of time, and a stunning celestial chart with 2,800 stars.

 In addition to this greatest horological masterpiece of all time, the Patek Philippe Museum also exhibits other supercomplications that were crafted in the first half of the 20th century for the Duke of Regla as well as American industrial magnates Henry Graves Junior and James Ward Packard.

The review of the 20th century also presents a magnificent selection of 1970s jewelry watches, many of them with highly imaginative designs.

The showcases contain the most enchanting examples of pocket watches, wristwatches, and
pendulum clocks from the second half of the 20th century.

 Watches featuring cases decorated with engravings, enamel miniatures, or cloisonné enamel enable Patek Philippe to safeguard the continuity of these artisanal skills and traditions to this very day.

The wondrous journey through the history of Patek Philippe ends with the exhibition of commemorative timepieces that were crafted on the occasion of the 150th anniversary of 1989, the inauguration of the new manufacturing complex in Plan-les-Ouates in 1997, and for the millennium year 2000.

1 comment:

Adriana Esmerald said...

Awesome the museum of the watches! I like all the photos from this blogpost, they are all incredible! I am also a big fan of the Patek Philippe watches and i wishh to add at least one to my collection.