Talking to Thierry Stern, President of Patek Philippe, about the Grand Exhibition The Art of Watches in New York

“The Art of Watches Grand Exhibition New York 2017” is open to the public and admission is free. It is being hosted at Cipriani 42nd Street from July 13 to 23, 2017, and is the venue’s first event to build a two-story structure. The 13,000 square foot exhibition is subdivided into 14 spaces for a total of ten themes, each with its own distinctive ambiance.

In New York I talked with Thierry Stern about the exhibition, New York and the special limited edition pieces manufactured to celebrate the US market.   

In order not to violate the privacy of visitors, I was not able to take more pictures of the exhibition. When I was there on the opening day last Friday the exhibition was extremely crowded. I am still waiting for more pictures to come, taken by a photographer after hours. So please understand the limited amount of pictures I am showing here. Thank you! 

I definitively recommend you to lean back, relax and to listen to my conversation with Thierry Stern, the President of Patek Philippe. He will not only talk about the exhibition, but also why New York is such a special place for him and where The Art of Watches Grand Exhibition will take place next …

The Art of Watches Grand Exhibition New York 2017

Visitors can watch a movie portraying Patek Philippe’s history, admire the manufacture’s complete current collection, and revel in a unique selection of complicated watches as well as a stunning range of movements. Live on site, watchmakers and craftspeople demonstrate their skills, offering visitors insights into horological artistry and the finesse mastered by specialist artisans such as enamel painters whose guild was associated with watchmaking for centuries. After completing the tour, visitors have the opportunity to relax in the Patek Philippe Café. Guided tours are available on a daily basis as well. For educational purposes, school class visits are being organized alongside a family day. 

With its 2017 exhibition in New York, Patek Philippe wants to give the U.S. audience an opportunity to discover more than one hundred exhibits from the Patek Philippe Museum, among them some extremely rare ones.

This is the first time that so many timekeeping instruments have left the safe haven of the distinguished museum in Geneva.

The museum section is divided into two departments, as is the case in Geneva. The “Antique Collection” provides a wonderful historic panorama of the history of watchmaking with some of the very first portable timepieces from the mid-16th century, richly enameled pocket watches, musical automata, and technical timepieces crafted by Europe’s most gifted watchmakers.

The “Patek Philippe Collection” offers a selection of the manufacture’s most splendid creations from 1839 to the present day.

Notable among them are the royal watches (particularly a piece presented to Queen Victoria in 1851 during the Great Exhibition at the London Crystal Palace), the first Swiss wristwatch (1868), and some of the most famous Patek Philippe “supercomplications” such as the “Duke of Regla”, the Star Caliber 2000 or the Calibre 89 (33 complications) that defended its title as the world’s most complicate portable watch for over 25 years. For the show in New York, Patek Philippe had the prototype of the Calibre 89 in yellow gold – held in safekeeping in Geneva – assembled, completed, and adjusted. This gives the public the first opportunity to admire the complex, fully functional timepiece; it is also the first time that the Calibre 89 has left the Patek Philippe Museum.

In the U.S. Historic Room, to illustrate its multifaceted relationships with the USA, Patek Philippe is presenting 26 timepieces that were once owned by celebrities of the New World.

Notable examples include some of the supercomplicated pocket watches that Patek Philippe made between 1900 and 1950 for two famous U.S. collectors, James Ward Packard, the automotive engineer, and Henry Graves Jr., a banker and art enthusiast. One of them is the legendary astronomical “Packard” delivered in 1927. It was the first Patek Philippe timepiece with a celestial chart and has now crossed the Atlantic again for a good reason.

This selection is completed by further timepieces that were the property of luminaries from U.S. history and culture: Henry Clay Frick, Jasper Newton “Jack” Daniel, Ralph R. Teetor, Asa Griggs Candler, John Larsen, General George S. Patton, Duke Ellington, Joe DiMaggio (on loan from a private collector), and Admiral Richard Evelyn Byrd.  

Not to mention the Patek Philippe table clock presented to President John F. Kennedy on the occasion of his stirring speech in Berlin in 1963 (on loan from the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum in Boston, Massachusetts). 

The ten theme rooms are …

The historic Patek Philippe film is screened here.

Current Collection Room
This room is reserved for the presentation of the current collection. Its interior was inspired by the appointment of the Patek Philippe Salon on Rue du RhĂ´ne in Geneva.

Napoleon Room
The seductive effect of this room is that it spirits visitors away to the Patek Philippe Salon in Geneva, treating them to a fantastic motion-picture panoramic view of Lake Geneva. This is also where the limited special editions created explicitly for the U.S. market are displayed.

Museum Room
Like the Patek Philippe Museum in Geneva, this room is subdivided into two departments, one of the Antique Collection, the other for the Patek Philippe Collection.

U.S. Historic Room
This area, designed especially for the exhibition in New York, showcases exceptional timepieces once owned by American collectors and celebrities.

Rare Handcrafts Room
Artisans demonstrate techniques, especially enameling, with which wristwatches and table clocks are decorated. A selection of watches that would be unthinkable without ancestral skills underscores Patek Philippe’s commitment to rare handcrafts.

Watchmakers Room
Master watchmakers from Patek Philippe invite visitors to take a close look at the inner workings of mechanical timepieces.

Grand Complications Room
A unique overview of the most complicated and innovative Patek Philippe timepieces concentrated in one place. They contributed considerably to the reputation of the manufacture.

Movements Room
This space is dedicated to the extensive range of Patek Philippe movements – from simple calibers to highly elaborate ones developed for the world’s most complicated watches.

Interactive Room
This room allows visitors to experience a hands-on, in-depth tour of the Patek Philippe manufacture.