A Grand Exhibition

All eyes will be on Patek Philippe as they unveil a monumental showcase to “The Art of Watches” later this week.

By Jonathan Bues

A historically important pocket watch from the 1850s, decorated with a portrait of the first U.S. president, George Washington. The timepiece features a keyless winding system invented by Patek Philippe’s cofounder, Adrien Philippe.

The summer months tend to see New Yorkers escaping the Manhattan heat on their way to decidedly cooler destinations such as the Hamptons. But starting this week there will be a very compelling reason to stay in town.

Over a 10-day period at New York’s Cipriani Midtown, Patek Philippe will host a Grand Exhibition that will include a build-out in Cipriani’s capacious Midtown banquet hall. Situated in one of New York’s great spaces, a former bank complete with cathedral ceilings and impressive turn-of-the-century architectural queues, Patek Philippe will hold court. Commuters and visitors from the suburbs take note: the space is directly across the street from Grand Central Terminal.

The exhibition is expected to be the largest assembly of key Patek Philippe timepieces in one place outside of the watchmaker’s own Geneva Museum. The exhibition will be structured in such a way as to usher visitors from room to room, each with a focus on a different period and theme central to fine watchmaking. Among the many rooms of the build-out will be a dedicated salon highlighting the most vital timepieces from the great American collectors. The room will feature 27 of these priceless masterpieces, including watches formerly owned by the likes of Henry Graves, John F. Kennedy, and James Ward Packard.

Larry Pettinelli, President of Patek Philippe U.S. says, “The United States has been an extremely important market for Patek Philippe collectors since the 1850s. We hope to showcase some of these extraordinary timepieces, as well as put into context the evolution of Patek Philippe within the U.S. market.”

While Grand Exhibitions have been held by Patek Philippe in the past, most recently a very successful and well-attended one in London in 2015, the scope of the upcoming New York event is larger than anything that Patek has done before outside its home city of Geneva.

Here, we present a guide to some of the most important timepieces on view starting on Thursday in New York City.

Renderings of the grand parlors that will be part of a massive build-out in Cipriani’s 42nd Street location.

A highly complicated pocket watch created in 1927 by Patek Philippe and commissioned by the American Industrialist James Ward Packard. “The Packard,” as it’s known, is an astronomical pocket watch. When the caseback is opened, it reveals the first rotating celestial map made by Patek Philippe. Over 500 stars enamelled in gold display the night sky as it would appear on any given night in Packard’s hometown of Warren, Ohio. The ultra-complicated timepiece also includes a minute repeater, perpetual calendar, date window, day-of-the-week indicator, running equation of time, moon-phase dial, and dials that display the time of sunrise and sunset in Warren.

A clock displaying the current time in Washington, D.C.; Berlin; and Moscow, that was owned and used by former President John F. Kennedy.. The clock was designed to resemble a nautical instrument recalling President Kennedy’s naval service.

Along with James Ward Packard, Henry Graves was the other great American collector of Patek Philippe timepieces during the early part of the 20th century. This timepiece, one of his important commissions, will be on display at the Grand Exhibition in New York.

The Grandmaster Chime Ref. 6300, originally created by Patek Philippe to mark the company’s 175th anniversary in 2014. It is one of the most complicated timepieces ever, with 20 complications making up the double-faced watch. One side focuses on the time and sonnerie, while the opposite shows the full instantaneous perpetual calendar. The total number of components inside the Grandmaster Chime is an astounding 1,580.

This enamel diamond-and-gold masterpiece was originally presented to Queen Victoria at the Crystal Palace in Hyde Park during The Great Exhibition of London, in August of 1851. Colloquially known as “The Queen Victoria,” this timepiece established the connection between the British Royal Family and Patek Philippe that remains strong today.