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A Photo Tour of the Patek Philippe Museum in Geneva>>>>>>>>

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Published on 08-31-2009 06:21 AM

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By: John B. Holbrook, II

May 5th, 2009
Copyright 2009 – All Rights Reserved

During the Spring of 2009, I had business in Europe which gave provided the opportunity for me to spend a day in Geneva. Having not been to Geneva prior to this visit, I had always hoped I would have the opportunity, so that I might visit the Patek Philippe Museum in Geneva. Many thanks to Milos "Watchfan1" for putting me in touch with the right people at Patek USA to assist in not only setting up a private tour of the museum, but also getting permission to take photographs while in the museum as photos are not normally allowed to be taken when inside the museum. As far as I know, this is the first time Patek has allowed a photo tour of the museum to be posted in the online community - a WATCH TALK FORUMS exclusive!

Unfortunately most museum lighting is woefully inadequte for the task of high quality photo taking, and the Patek Philippe Museum is no exception. It took an inordinate amount of post photo editing to bring you, the reader these photos. In some cases, there simply wasn't enough light to provide adequate depth of field for hand held shooting with my DSLR - I did the very best I could.

Here's the outside of the museum and the entrance - the building was remodeled in 1999 and the museum opened in 2001:

Building Window Property Sky Brickwork

White Vehicle Building Car Window

The first floor of the museum is primarily taken up with the reception area, a fully functioning restoration workshop where all the museum timepieces are maintained, an auditorium for symposiums, and antique workbenches used in watchmaking which I believe were used by watchmakers in the original manufacturing facility in Geneva:

Furniture Interior design Wood Hall Flooring

Furniture Table Wood Interior design Flooring

Portraits of Antoine Norbert de Patek (1812-1877) and Jean Adrien Philippe (1815-1894)

Head Chin Facial expression Picture frame Art

Product Automotive tire Writing implement Office supplies Rim

Some of the prestigious awards and medals Patek Philippe has won in years past:

Yellow Office equipment Wood Font Office supplies

My tour guide then took me to the top (4th) floor of the building, which houses the Patek Philippe archive and library, as well as Henri Stern's office. It is Henri Stern who is primarily responsible for creating the Patek Philippe Museum and assembling the priceless collection it contains. Henri Stern's wife Gerdi also made a significant contribution to the Museum as well, as she was responsible for decorating the Museum. She hand picked out the exotic woods used in the displays - a different wood is used on each floor of the Museum.

Picture frame Property Table Lighting Interior design

The library and archive was most impressive - it houses more than 4000 literary works (antique and recent) on horological subject matter. I even spotted a book about Rolex in the Library. I could have spent hours just wandering around the books, but we quickly moved on:

Property Cabinetry Wood Interior design Hall

We then went back down to the third floor of the Museum, which houses the Antiques Collection - pieces dating from the 16th century to the 19th century. We then continued down to the 2nd floor, which houses the collection from 1839 to present.

Furniture Table Chair Interior design Wood

The Museum contains some of the earliest known timekeeping devices created by man:

Watch Clock Jewellery Artifact Font

Gold Silver Body jewelry Jewellery Glass

Royalty often commissioned specialized artists to reproduce well known works of art onto pendants and other jewelry:

Picture frame Art Wood Glass Jewellery

It was this same type of skill which would later be used to paint the exterior of pocket watches:

World Gas Technology Font Space

Rectangle Body jewelry Art Material property Glass

This later evolved into enameling and sculpturing which went into pocket watch dials, and later wrist watch dials - skills which first evolved in Geneva.

Watch Body jewelry Silver Pocket watch Clock

Textile Badge Creative arts Ornament Souvenir

White Light Black Silver Ornament

Amber Clock Font Jewellery Natural material

Gold Ornament Jewellery Body jewelry Clock

Gold Amber Yellow Font Material property

Watch Silver Material property Clock Body jewelry

Product Clock Font Wall Watch

Natural material Clock Body jewelry Jewellery Pocket watch

Here's one of the more famous (notorious?) pieces in the Museum's collection - a pocket watch owned by famous bourbon maker Jack Daniel.
Amber Gold Body jewelry Jewellery Tints and shades

Watch Clock Silver Analog watch Alarm clock

A pocket watch owned by a doctor who was very proud of his profession:
Body jewelry Amber Jewellery Earrings Font

Silver Pocket watch Body jewelry Material property Jewellery

Pocket watch Clock Amber Material property Jewellery

A collection of EXTREMELY complicated (as in having several mechanical complications) pocket watches.
Watch Brown Analog watch Light Clock

One of the absolute highlights for me was to see the amazing Patek Philippe Calibre 89 - considered one of the most complex timepieces ever built in the world. This amazing clock-watch features 33 high-end functions, 1,728 parts, and 24 hands. It was created to celebrate Patek's 150th anniversary in 1989.
Wood Interior design Display case Science Glass

Gas Circle Ornament Metal Jewellery

Watch Analog watch Pocket watch Clock Quartz clock

Prior to the Calibre 89, this watch owned by Henry Graves Jr. was the most complicated timepiece. Henry Graves Jr. and James Ward Packard vied with one another to own a timepiece with the greatest possible number of complications from about 1900 - 1927 and both commissioned several timepieces from Patek in this quest.
Pocket watch Clock Jewellery Circle Tints and shades

Watch Clock Quartz clock Wood Circle

Modern and vintage Patek wristwatches:

Watch Brown Analog watch Light Rectangle

Watch Analog watch Clock Everyday carry Rectangle

Watch Photograph Analog watch Product Clock

Watch Brown Analog watch Rectangle Clock

Watch Analog watch Clock Wood Font

Watch Brown Analog watch Clock Watch accessory

Watch Clock Watch accessory Glass Fashion accessory

Watch Analog watch Light Product Clock

Watch Analog watch Photograph White Light

Watch Analog watch Clock Silver Watch accessory

Wood Flooring Watch Clock Hardwood

Prior to visiting the Museum, I wasn't aware Patek ever made any two-tone watches:
Watch Analog watch White Light Product

Watch Analog watch Clock Watch accessory Natural material

Watch Clock Material property Eyewear Everyday carry

Gold Gadget Jewellery Font Auto part

Watch Analog watch Light Rectangle Clock

I hope you enjoyed this pictorial of just a few of the wonderful treasures which await you when you visit the Patek Philippe Museum in Geneva - the photos here really just scratch the surface of what awaits you when you visit in person. According to the sign out front, the hours of operation are as follows:

Wood Font Rectangle Commemorative plaque Art

For more information on the Patek Philippe Museum (including information on admission), click here to visit the Patek Museum website. I HIGHLY RECOMMEND that you call ahead to set up a guided tour of the museum. Certainly it was a thrill for me just to visit the museum, but the wonderful tour guide with me really brought the collection alive for me. Keep in mind I don't (yet) own a Patek Philippe, but Patek is so synonymous with high horology that touring this museum really is an education not only in Patek history, but of all things relating to horology. So any fan of mechanical watchmaking will enjoy a trip to the Patek Philippe museum - I know I did!

**Photos & Text Copyright 2009 WATCH TALK FORUMS. No part of this report can be reproduced outside of WATCH TALK FORUMS without the expressed permission of John B. Holbrook, II.

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