May 1, 2014, marks an important milestone in the Swiss watch industry. It is 175 years ago to the day that Patek Philippe — perhaps the world’s most prestigious Swiss watch brand, and the last family-owned watch company in Geneva — was founded.
In a letter released to the press, Patek Philippe president Thierry Stern states:
“Today, May 1, 2014, I am happy to announce the 175th anniversary of Patek Philippe, and the imminent launch of a special timeline at patek.com to showcase our history – the longest uninterrupted history of any watch brand. The timeline will be continuously enriched throughout the year, with fascinating stories from our past and present.
“We believe that one of the secrets of our success has been our independence (we are the last family-owned watch manufacture in Geneva). Over the years, this freedom has allowed us to be truly creative, innovative, and pioneering – as demonstrated in our impressive repertoire of patents, our unique designs, and our dedication to rare handcrafts.
“My great grandfather, Charles Stern, and his brother Jean, took the reins of Patek Philippe in 1932. It was Charles’ son – my grandfather, Henri Stern -and my father, Philippe, who inspired my passion to stay true to the vision of the company’s founders, and to keep creating and producing the best watches in the world.
“I feel proud to be at the company’s helm during this most important historical milestone. And I look forward to maintaining the long-standing spirit of creativity and innovation for which the company is known.
“May I take this opportunity to thank you for sharing our passion for Patek Philippe.”
To mark its 175th anniversary year, Patek Philippe unveiled a new, larger booth (below) at this year’s Baselworld watch fair in March, and launched a handful of new timepieces, including the Nautilus Travel Time Chronograph (Ref. 5990/1A-001; you can read a review of it here) and Annual Calendar Calendar Chronograph (Ref. 5960/1A-001). Patek told WatchTime at the fair that more new watches (including, possibly, some special anniversary editions?) will be launched in the fall.