Timepiece Chronicle

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The Museum Collection of Patek Philippe at the Saatchi Gallery: LIVE PHOTOS

The Museum Collection of Patek Philippe at the Saatchi Gallery: LIVE PHOTOS

Last time I shared my photo report of the current collection of Patek Philippe that was being displayed at London's Saatchi Gallery. Now it's time for the museum pieces. Oh boy. Just wow. This is what I came to the exhibition to see and I'm so glad I made the trip. Last year my wife and I had planned to visit the Patek Museum in Geneva on our last day in Switzerland, however we massively underestimated how tired we'd be after getting up at 4am to travel across the country to have a tour round CERN, so we weren't able to make it. If this is just a peek at what Patek have there, then I'm definitely up for returning (as if I wasn't already).

Below are four brilliant examples of chronographs that Patek had in a display case of around twenty pieces. Unfortunately in a museum setting with dozens of people milling around you, it's not exactly the done thing to hog one window and take endless pictures, so I was only able to get a few. It's only when you see a 2499 in the flesh do you suddenly realise what all the fuss is about, though I am still more partial to the curved lugs and case of the 2571.  Seeing all of these pieces together really makes you appreciate just how advanced and beautiful these pieces still are decades after being made. Every aspect of these pieces has been painstakingly designed and manufactured to be the best at what they do.


What struck me most of all whilst at the exhibit was the sheer variety of pieces that Patek has produced over the years. It shouldn't really be a surprise with a blue chip Swiss watch manufacturer with a history like Patek's, but until you see what pieces they've made, it's hard to comprehend the quantities. Perpetual calendar pocket watches in the 1970s, huge aviator pilots watches, the first split seconds chronograph EVER, chirping bird automatons, jungle themed enamel dials: the list goes on and on and on. 

There were several automatons being displayed at this exhibit, but this bird cage was something else. This is from another age, owned by the Ottoman Imperial Family who ruled their Empire from 1299 to 1922. We think of today's culture as being one of extravagance where the hyper rich can purchase anything they want. It's in seeing this stunning work of artistry and mechanics with its seemingly alive mechanical birds and hidden music box that we realise that we've no idea what true luxury is. Along with the fall of the reign of Kings and Emperors, the era of bespoke pieces like this fell as well . In 1830, before CAD and industrialisation, a team of technicians/artists made this work of art through sheer force of will in the face of technical restraints of the era.

Next time we'll be taking a look at the rare handcrafts and watch art on display at the Saatchi Gallery that show Patek is still committed to creating truly beautiful works of art.

ex·trav·a·gant. ikˈstravəɡənt/. adjective. Example: A solid gold case with enamel detailing with Grande Sonnerie, Petite sonnerie, music and a singing bird. Each of the five birds are activated either every hour or on demand with the larger two turning their heads, opening & closing beaks, flapping their wings, tail and jumping between the two bars. The three yellow birds move their heads and open their beaks. 

ex·trav·a·gant. ikˈstravəɡənt/. adjective. Example: A solid gold case with enamel detailing with Grande Sonnerie, Petite sonnerie, music and a singing bird. Each of the five birds are activated either every hour or on demand with the larger two turning their heads, opening & closing beaks, flapping their wings, tail and jumping between the two bars. The three yellow birds move their heads and open their beaks. 

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