One of my first introductions to the art, history and precision engineering of fine watchmakers was a visit to the Patek Philippe Museum in Geneva around a decade ago.
It is a truly inspiring experience, working your way through 2,500 watches and related items that chart the course of horology over five centuries, with Patek Philippe’s personal contribution beginning 1839. The recent introduction of a new museology makes the experience particularly vivid and engaging.
The museum opened in 2001 and celebrates its 20th anniversary this year with two new 100-page publications, one devoted to the antique collection, the other to the Patek Philippe collection. Both will be on sale from next year and are likely to become collectibles in their own right.
The Patek Philippe Museum was created by Philippe Stern, who was president of the brand at the time and is now its honorary president, after decades researching and acquiring historic pieces from the 1970s onwards and only later moving the collection into the 1920-completed building on Geneva’s Rue des Vieux-Grenadiers.
The Museum is constantly evolving under the stewardship of Mr Stern and Peter Friess, director and curator since 2014.
The ground floor displays a number of antique benches used by watchmakers and jewellers and a collection of tools and machines dating from the eighteenth to the mid-twentieth century.
Up one floor is the Patek Philippe collection with timekeepers dating from 1839 to 2000.
On the second floor we find the antique collection plotting watch and clockmaking from the sixteenth to the mid-nineteenth century through 1,200 exhibits.
The third floor recounts the history of Patek Philippe through a selection of historic archives representing great events in the life of the manufacture including hand-written documents evoking its founders, Antoine Norbert de Patek and Jean Adrien Philippe.