The exhibition is housed in a two-story space that has been custom-built inside Cipriani 42nd Street in New York City, and runs from July 13 to 23. It aims to lift the veil on the world of elite watchmaking by recreating the experience of visiting the Patek Philippe factory, museum and salon in Geneva. The impressive show is like a mini-Basel for the masses; it is elegant, glamorous and large-scale – the perfect venue to frame an important collection. It’s a spectacle that only a brand with a serious heritage could pull off. Who but Patek Philippe could troll its archives for a watch made for Queen Victoria, a clock for J.F. Kennedy, or a 1948 chronograph owned by Joe DiMaggio, and at the same time introduce a half-million-dollar, world-first complication, themed to the location of the venue?
The highlight of the commemorative editions is a Patek Philippe first: a world timer with a minute repeater function that strikes hours, quarter hours and minutes on demand for local time in 24 world cities. Until now, minute repeaters with a world time function could only chime home time. The Ref. 5531R-001 strikes the time zone represented by the city aligned with the 12 o’clock position, shown by the hour and minute hands. Because this is a special U.S. edition, one of the traditional cities on the world timer, Mexico, was changed to Chicago, so the watch shows seven U.S. cities. It contains a new movement, Caliber R27HU, with a patent pending for the new striking mechanism. Acoustics were enhanced by attaching the gongs to the caseband instead of the mainplate.
The Ref. 5531R-001, priced at $560,000, is a limited edition of 10 pieces, but Patek Philippe technical director Phillip Borat says the movement, which was five years in development, is not limited to this model. “It will be re-used, and you will see it in Basel next year,” he says. There are five pieces with a depiction of the New York skyline at night, and five of the skyline during the day. The dials are cloisonné enamel, executed by the one-and-only Anita Porchet, Switzerland’s foremost enamel artist. It is Patek’s first enameled minute repeater.
A spectacular parade of special editions
The Art of Watches is open to the public and includes, among other things, a fantastic virtual reality experience that puts you inside a working movement. The exhibition is housed in 10 separate rooms, including a Theater room showing a film about Patek’s history; a Museum room showing highlights from the Patek Philippe private collection; a U.S. Historic room displaying pieces made for important American collectors, including James Packard and Henry Graves; a Rare Handcrafts Gallery where artisans demonstrate metiers; the Grand Complications room with live watchmaking demonstrations; a Current Collection room where the new pieces will be for sale; and the Napoleon room, a re-creation of the ballroom-like showroom of Patek’s flagship store in Geneva.
Among the spectacular parade of special editions is a ladies’ minute repeater, Ref. 7000/250, with a beautiful blue enamel dial. It contains Caliber R 27 PS. The case is set with 160 diamonds using Patek’s proprietary Flamme setting, which allows more light to enter and return from each stone.
A smaller edition of the World Time watch, without the striking function, was also introduced at the exhibition. The Ref. 5230 New York 2017 is a special edition of 300 watches containing Caliber 240 HU. The dial depicts the same New York skyline as that on the Ref. 5531. And for the ladies, there is a World Timer, Ref. 7130, in two 75-piece editions (rose or white gold), with a diamond-set bezel. There is also a ladies’ Calatrava Ref. 7200/50 with either a white or a blue mother-of-pearl dial and diamond hour markers, with Caliber 240 HU.
One of the most popular of the special editions is a Calatrava Pilot watch, Ref. 5522 New York Edition – a 600-piece stainless-steel version of the one introduced at Basel in 2015. And finally, there are several Calatrava watches depicting U.S. scenes, including a wood marquetry dial portraying the Grand Canyon. Patek Philippe has also introduced a series of cloisonné enamel domed table clocks decorated with U.S. scenes, including Brooklyn Bridge by Night, as well as a series of pocket watches with cases crafted using wood marquetry, engraving or enameling to depict U.S.-themed motifs, including the Bald Eagle, Yosemite Valley and Mount Rushmore.