Its name evokes the elegance of a case, the finesse of a movement, exceptional finishing and extremely reliable horological complications. Patek Philippe is demanding and top-notch in every field, and that of artistic crafts is no exception to the rule. Enamellers, guilloché specialists and gem-setters are carefully selected to comply with a degree of excellence that tolerates no approximations.
Women want it all and will accept nothing less : impeccable aesthetic appeal, an exemplary movement, a watch that is beautiful, comfortable and useful ; a mechanical gem in the noblest sense of the word. “Women’s expectations are entirely unlike those harboured by men,” points out Sandrine Stern, Artistic Director at Patek Philippe. “Their sensibilities are very different and it is extremely important for us to develop an authentic feminine collection that is not merely a miniaturised adaptation of men’s models. Our ladies’ watches have been designed for women with movements that match their desires.”
In the standard collection, one inevitably thinks of the Gondolo, the “shape” watch inspired by the Art Deco period and which perfectly embodies Patek Philippe’s determination to address women specifically. Or else of the Twenty~4® range in which each model – whether in gold or steel – is set with diamonds on the bezel, case, dial or bracelet. “A gem-set piece is always more attractive than a non-set model and what is important for us is to have a magnificent fundamental shape,” says Sandrine Stern. “We begin our research with a non-set model in order to get a clear view of the bezel, the profile that will determine whether one is attracted to the piece while also ensuring that the Patek Philippe style is clearly recognisable. But adding precious stones to a watch is not an end in itself.”
The magic of the invisible
Patek Philippe has displayed longstanding expertise in the field of artistic crafts. “We do not aim to incorporate artistic crafts into the standard collection,” says Sandrine Stern. “If we want to aim for quality, we cannot produce them in large quantities. That is why our various skills are expressed through special or one-of-a-kind pieces featuring enamelling, guilloché patterns and various gem-setting techniques such as grain setting or invisible setting.” What can one say of the Calatrava Haute Joaillerie 4895G on which the dark purple dial is rimmed with baguette-cut diamonds of varying sizes, other than that the virtuoso dexterity of the gem-setter who accomplished this task is truly impressive ? How could one fail to be moved by the Twenty~4® Libellule on which the gem-setting alone called for 650 hours of work ? As for the unique Twenty~4® Roses entirely paved with diamonds, rubies and emeralds, its execution obviously entailed a blend of amazing talent, infinite patience and peerless standards. The voluptuous curves of the rose take shape beneath an extraordinary invisible gem-setting composed of baguette-cut diamonds, rubies and emeralds in varying diameters. This masterful endeavour was undertaken in the Patek Philippe workshops. “All our watches are gem-set in-house, either in La Chaux-de-Fonds, or in our Geneva workshop,” says Sandrine Stern.
The gem-setting workshop headed by Alexandre Duvoisin is staffed by six people responsible for working with the finest gems and the most incredible treasures carefully selected by the company gemmologist. As the workshop foreman points out : “The stones must be perfectly cut”. This is a fundamental prerequisite for the exercise of a difficult art that is all too often made to appear commonplace by the bewildering quantity of gem-set models and jewellery available on the market. Since not all such models are infused with the same degree of quality, the dexterity, concentration and rigorous nature of each gesture performed here stands out all the more clearly. It is a matter of striking the perfect balance between strength and restraint in gently pushing back the matter and imprisoning the diamonds and other precious stones that endow Patek Philippe watches with that special radiance that no woman could resist.