Since the early days of mechanical watchmaking, artisans have always invested considerable care in decorating their
clocks and watches. Timepieces were mainly beautiful, artistically finished treasures before they advanced to become
reliable precision instruments. In Geneva, the individual decorative techniques found fertile ground in the famous “Fabrique” where all watchmaking-related occupations were assembled. Since 1839, as an heir of the grand Genevan tradition, Patek Philippe systematically commissioned the most talented artists to ennoble its creations. From 1970 to 1980, when the demand for such decoratively enhanced watches slumped and several ancestral techniques were on the brink of extinction, the manufacture mobilized its resources to preserve and breathe new life into all of its precious know-how and in particular miniature painting on enamel.
At its historic headquarters on Rue du Rhône, the Patek Philippe manufacture is showcasing an extensive selection of over 75 pocket watches, wristwatches, dome clocks, and table clocks from its latest rare handcrafts collection. It is a rich range of one-of-a-kind and limited-edition pieces that pay tribute to challenging manifestations of craftsmanship such as manual engraving, grand feu cloisonné enamel, miniature painting on enamel, guilloching, gem setting, and wood micromarquetry.
On this occasion, Patek Philippe is also presenting six new watches from the current collection that are endowed with especially elaborate decorations.
To this very day, Patek Philippe is dedicated to safeguarding and handing down all these competencies, but also to further evolving them in close collaboration with the artists who set their sights on new horizons. Moreover, the manufacture supports the development of totally new techniques for decorating watches, one of which is wood micromarquetry. The significance of artisanal professions for Patek Philippe also comes to the fore in the generous amount of space reserved for craftsmanship in the new, impressive production building that was officially inaugurated in Plan-les-Ouates (Geneva) in the spring of 2020.
Every year, to highlight the full beauty and radiance of these refined techniques, Patek Philippe presents a collection of one-of-a-kind and limited-edition pieces enhanced with the most exquisite artisanal skills.
The 2020 selection proved to be particularly rich, comprising more than 70 pocket watches (with their matching stands), wristwatches (Calatrava, Golden Ellipse, minute repeaters for ladies, Ladies’ Nautilus) and dome table clocks with motifs taken from eclectic sources of inspiration such as nature, fine arts, and cultural traditions from five continents. Because it was not possible to present the 2020 collection last year, Patek Philippe carefully safeguarded it in anticipation of its display to the general public and to watch connoisseurs. The exhibit at the Patek Philippe Salons in Geneva is enriched with several 2021 creations that in particular salute the Genevan heritage. It offers a unique opportunity to admire this array of extraordinary works of art in its entirety before they are dispatched to private collections around the world. While exploring the exhibits, visitors can also observe the artisans at work as they demonstrate their virtuosity on site at the highest level of perfection.
The techniques of rare craftsmanship are not reserved only for one-of-a-kind pieces in limited editions.
Patek Philippe also uses them to decorated certain timepiece models in the current collection, such as individual grand complications or watch design icons. On the occasion of the “Rare Handcrafts 2020-2021” exhibition, the manufacture is presenting six new versions of familiar watch models that were turned into uniquely seductive pieces by gifted artists.
The double-face Sky Moon Tourbillon wristwatch (12 complications) combines a manually engraved rose-gold case with a decor in brown grand feu champlevé enamel and a guilloched ornament (Ref. 6002R-001).
The Ref. 5304 self-winding grand complication with a minute repeater and a retrograde perpetual calendar now comes in rose gold decorated with 80 baguette diamonds (Ref. 5304/301R-001).
The Ref. 5374 grand complication with a minute repeater and a perpetual calendar is joined by a new white-gold version with a blue grand feu enamel dial (Ref. 5374G-001).
The current Patek Philippe collection welcomes a new minute repeater for ladies with a dial in blue grand feu flinqué
enamel and a bezel with a Flamme diamond complement (Ref. 7040/250G-001), as well as a new Golden Ellipse Haut Artisanat in white gold with champlevé enamel and manual engraving (Ref. 5738/51).
The manufacture also demonstrates its virtuosity in the master jeweler’s art with a new version of the Nautilus Haute Joaillerie in white gold with a random diamond pavé setting, also called snow setting (Ref. 7118/1450G-001).