History of Patek Philippe

written by YWH team 1 January 2016
History of Patek Philippe

The history of Patek Philippe starts in the 19th century with the Polish watchmaker Antoni Patek (or Antoine Norbert Patek de Pradwdzic, or Antoine Norbert de Patek; 14 June 1812 – 1 March 1877). He was born in Piaski Szlacheckie , Poland and moved to Warsaw at the age of 10. After joining the Polish army in 1828 he settled in France in 1832, more or less as a refugee. In 1834 he had to move to Switzerland and he started making pocket watches in 1839 in Geneva, along with his fellow Czech partner Franciszek Czapek. He was a Czechoslovakian watchmaker with the Polish nationality. Also, a certain Mr. Moreau was involved with the company. Patek and Czapek separated in 1844, and in 1845 Patek joined with the French watchmaker Jean Adrien Philippe.

The French Jean Adrien Philippe (16 April 1815 – 5 January 1894) is the inventor of the key-less winding mechanism. That patented invention earned him a Gold Medal at the French Industrial Exposition (World’s Fair) in 1844. And there he first met Antoni Patek. On the 15th of May 1845 Philippe became head watchmaker at Patek & Co. in Geneva. He had an agreement that entitled him to one-third of all company profits but his role in Patek & Co. became so important that he became a full partner. In 1851 Patek Philippe & Co. was officially founded.

Due to a big worldwide economic crisis Patek was forced to sell his shares and in 1932 the brothers Charles and Jean Stern became the new owners. Since long time they were exclusive suppliers to Patek Philippe as they owned Fabrique de Cadrans Stern Frères, a company that manufactured dials.

Today the company is headed by Thierry Stern, who is a member of the fourth generation of the Stern family. A watch from Patek Philippe, the Grandmaster Chime Ref. 6300A-010 from 2019 is holding the world record for being the most expensive wristwatch in the world.

The history of Patek Philippe:

1812 – Birth of Antoine Norbert de Patek
1834 – Patek moves to Switzerland
1839 – Patek starts making pocket watches in Geneva with Franciszek Czapek
1839 – (1st of May) Patek, Czapek & Cie. is founded
1844 – Czapek withdraws after increasing disagreement
1844 – Name changes to Patek & Co.
1845 – (15th of May) Adrien Philippe enters
1851 – (1st of January) Names changes to Patek Philippe & Co.
1851 – Czapek establishes Czapek & Co.
1868 – Production of their first wrist watch
1876 – (13th of November) That first wrist watch is sold to the Hungarian Countess Koscowicz
1891 – Adrien Philippe hands over management to his son Joseph Emile Philippe and Francois Antoine Conty
1901 – Company becomes public and is named Ancienne Manufacture d’Horlogerie Patek Philippe & Cie. S.A.
1932 – Patek Philippe & Co. is bought by Charles and Jean Stern
1935 – Enters the American market

1958 – Henri Stern, son of Charles Stern, becomes the president
1993 – Philippe Stern, son of Henri Stern, becomes the president
2009 – Thierry Stern, son of Philippe Stern, becomes the president

The full list of oldest watch brands in the world might interest you…

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