Patek Philippe, one of the world’s oldest and most celebrated luxury watchmakers, officially opened its new museum-housing more than 1,600 historic timepieces and a library devoted exclusively to horology-in Geneva, Switzerland on Nov. 8. The project has been active since 1997, but some of the collections were assembled up to 30 years ago.
The Patek Philippe Museum contains not only the world’s greatest collection of the Swiss watchmaker’s exceptional timepieces, but also hundreds of rare and historic watches made in Geneva, in tribute to the city’s long watchmaking heritage.
Alain Vaissade, cultural affairs councilman of the city of Geneva, said “the new museum underscores the significance of Geneva as the world capital of horology.”
Patek Philippe is the only Geneva manufacturer still in operation, without interruption, for more than 160 years and, noted company spokesperson Jasmina Stelle, “the only company able to provide such a complete and comprehensive overview of the accomplishments of horology in Geneva during the 19th and 20th centuries.”
Some of the world’s most eminent celebrities of the last two centuries wore Patek Philippe watches. Queen Victoria, Richard Wagner, Leo Tolstoy, Marie Curie, Rudyard Kipling, and Albert Einstein are among the notables whose timepieces can now seen at the Patek Philippe Museum.
Located in Geneva’s Plainpalais district near the city center, the museum building is a former watchmaking workshop built in 1920, and used also formerly for gem-cutting and jewelry making. Its four floors were extensively remodeled and furbished under the supervision of Gerdi Stern, the wife of Patek Philippe president Philippe Stern. Her objective, she said, was to create “a public venue with an ambiance that radiates the warmth and intimacy of a private residence.”
The museum’s elegantly showcased collections are divided into two sections:
* The first section encompasses more than 600 rare and exceptional European and Genevan timepieces (including automata, miniature portraits on enamel, and rare exhibits), which trace five hundred years of European horology, and
* The second section contains the Patek Philippe exclusive watch collection of more than 1,000 timepieces, with the historic significance, innovative technology and aesthetic breadth of the timepieces. There is also an overview of the watchmaker’s workshops’ history from the beginning to the present day.
Acclaimed horological expert Alan Banbury was a personal consultant to Philippe Stern during the assemblage of the collection. Arnaud Tellier, a respected authority in the field of timekeeping instruments and formerly with the Antiquorum horological auction house, is the museum director.
The Patek Philippe Museum also has a library devoted exclusively to timekeeping. Hundreds of works, some extremely rare, are presently being cataloged. An exhibition on the ground floor encompasses 200 old machines and tool that recount the history of precision mechanical engineering. Visitors also can observe a watchmaker specialized in the restoration of old timepieces as he demonstrates this time-honored craft in a glass-enclosed workshop.
Starting Nov. 13, the Patek Philippe Museum, in Geneva, Switzerland, is open to the public from Tuesdays to Fridays between 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. and on Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.