03.07.2015 - Patek Philippe

Patek Philippe takes over the Saatchi Gallery: The Grand Exhibition

For two weeks only, luxury watch brand ‘Patek Philippe’, the 175-year-old watch brand, took over the Saatchi Gallery in London that opened their doors to the public to give a unique insight into the companies rich history.

London holds a position in the history of time keeping, as Greenwich Mean Time was adopted internationally as a global time standard in the late 19th century. Furthermore, London is where Patek Philippe sold pocket watches to Queen Victoria – one of the first royal collectors – and Prince Albert during the ‘Great Exhibition’ of 1851, held in Crystal Palace. It was only fitting for this huge exhibition to be held here.



Queen Victoria’s Patek Philippe was on display


Included in the exhibition were around 400 timepieces that capture the art, beauty, science and utility that watchmaking represents. The watches on show have a combined value of tens of millions, featuring the oldest known Patek wrist chronograph (1924) and their first ever striking wristwatch (1916). Each of the exhibits tells their own story, which were displayed through interactive displays. Even artisans were on hand to demonstrate enameling, guilloche work and precious stone setting.



The Oldest Known Patek Philippe Wrist Chronograph, On Show At The Exhibition.


There were 15 rooms to explore throughout the exhibition, including a room dedicated to timepieces with ‘complications’, the rarest and most complex pieces. Another of the breathtaking rooms was the Napoleon room, which was built to replicate the brands Geneva headquarters.

Despite the huge cost, Patek Philippe are adamant this wasn’t some sort of advertising campaign, with the companies managing director, Mr. Mark Hearn, saying, “the objective of the exhibition has never been to sell watches. We can do that anyway, without the need of an exhibition.” Mr. Hearn also went on to say, “[the exhibition’s objective] will be to inspire and help visitors to understand and appreciate watchmaking.”

There were some new special pieces on show at the exhibition, such as a unique pocket watch named Tudor Rose that was made to celebrate the event. Also on display was the companies 175 year anniversary watch, named “Grandmaster Chime’.



The Two Faces Of The ‘Grandmaster Chime’


This special watch is no joke. It features 20 different complications, all of which are shared between two dials that can spin between the massive lugs. Only 6 of these masterpieces are up for sale, retailing at around £1,700,000. The Grandmaster Chime spent eight years in development, and features a whopping 1,366 parts, with the case itself taking 4 years to develop featuring an additional 214 components – more than most movements have. The 18k rose gold was chiseled by hand under a microscope, including a circular laurel wreath carved out into the bezel. Many words could be used to describe this unbelievable watch, but Regal optimises it the best.



The Grandmaster Chime In Its Special Presentation Box With Commemorative Medallion.


Overall, the exhibition was a great chance for anyone with an interest in horology, or art, to gain an understanding into one of the oldest and most well known watch makers in the world. It was more than just looking at some amazing watches, but finding out what it takes to build one of these watches, or even the history of them. We’re not sure if there will be another chance to see the ins and outs of this amazing family run watchmakers, but we hope they’ll keep creating more masterpieces in the years to come.


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