Rumour was rife since the SIHH in January and it’s now official. Acclaimed the world over for the outstanding aesthetics and technicality of its watches, Patek Philippe has announced the creation of its own quality seal. This new hallmark, says the Genevan Fine Watch brand, goes even further than the Geneva Seal, implemented in 1886 by a cantonal law and whose criteria are, for the most part, aesthetic. “Our objective is to reinforce quality standards. We wish to provide our customers with a complete guarantee of the end product,” declared Philippe Stern, CEO of Patek Philippe, at Baselworld.
Technical and aesthetic demands
Five years in the making, the Patek Philippe Seal will certify that the brand’s timepieces have been manufactured to the highest technical and aesthetic specifications. “We did a tremendous amount of work within the company to produce the Patek Philippe quality bible,” explained Philippe Stern.
Henceforth, the quality specifications applied to the movement will be completed by additional criteria relating to the entire watch, from the exterior elements such as case, dial, hands, pushers, and spring bars for the strap, to the aesthetic and functional aspects of the finished timepiece. “Given that a Patek Philippe watch is first and foremost an instrument that measures time, the Patek Philippe Seal makes a binding statement regarding rate accuracy,” commented the brand.
Stability of rate will first be checked with uncased movements, then with finished watches. An individual certificate, delivered with the watch, will attest to the rate of accuracy of a tourbillon. A Commission de Surveillance (supervisory authority) will guarantee complete compliance with the rules of the Patek Philippe Seal, while a second commission will be tasked with monitoring processes within the Manufacture on a daily basis.
Goodbye Geneva Seal?
The first watches to be embossed with the Patek Philippe Seal should be available in two years’ time. It is a reflection of the ultimate in excellence, a philosophy the company has pursued ever since it was established. Will this new hallmark mark the demise of the Geneva Seal, still a coveted distinction for Manufactures established in Geneva (as all candidates for the Geneva Seal must be)? The opinion behind the scenes at Baselworld was that “the creation of this new seal sits perfectly with Patek Philippe’s approach to watchmaking. No doubt it will oblige the Geneva Seal to revise and possibly reinforce its criteria. It’s the only way it can survive.”
The company preferred not to comment, other than to observe how “everything changes over time,” while Philippe Stern emphasised that “Patek Philippe has always guaranteed its products and its independence.” One of the leaders in the Fine Watch segment, the brand indicated in Basel that it expects its revenues to shrink slightly in 2009 by around 10%. In 2008, Patek Philippe produced more than 40,000 watches, three-quarters of which were fitted with a mechanical movement. This anticipated drop of 10% corresponds to the level of sales in 2007.