Swiss Watchmaker Patek Philippe Invites New York to an Exquisite Time

'The Art of Watches, Grand Exhibition New York 2017'
By Isabelle Kellogg
Isabelle Kellogg
Isabelle Kellogg
July 2, 2017 Updated: July 2, 2017

The “smart” watch industry may believe it’s getting closer to dominating how we count the hours and tell the passage of time, but Swiss watchmaker Patek Philippe is out to prove that people of all ages are genuinely interested in what goes on under the dial of a very expensive, handmade watch. 

With its “The Art of Watches, Grand Exhibition New York 2017,” an open-to-the-public exhibition, Patek Philippe is taking over the historic former Bowery Bank building, now an event space called Cipriani 42nd Street, from July 13 through July 23. 

Sketch of the entrance to
Sketch of the entrance to “The Art of Watches, Grand Exhibition New York 2017.” (Patek USA)

On a special Family Day, Saturday, July 22, children will be able to sit side by side a watchmaker at the bench, among other activities. 

“We are extremely pleased to offer families a look inside the world of complicated watchmaking. Being a family-owned business we are always interested in showing the next generation the artistry within the industry,” said Larry Pettinelli, president of the U.S. division of Patek Philippe, of the special day, in a press release.

Maybe it’s the fascination with the tiny moving parts, or the angelic chiming sounds that indicate the passing hours that attracts watch nerds, connoisseurs, and the curious to exhibitions like this one.

The exhibition will be dispersed over 10 ornately decorated, Golden Age-era rooms totaling 13,218 square feet.  A dazzling, two-story entrance will welcome visitors who can wander through a series of exhibits and presentations to discover the company’s 178-year history and learn about the family-owned company’s significant contributions to the world of haute horology: the tradition of precision in luxury watch manufacturing.

(Patek USA)
(Patek USA)

Ten specifically designed rooms will be set up as immersive environments in which visitors can explore exceptional pocket watches and wristwatches dating back to 1530, as well as watch a movie with historical references to the company’s major accomplishments in watchmaking.   

Various rooms for the exhibits include the Napoleon room will house limited edition timepieces; the U.S. Historic room will showcase significant timepieces from U.S. collectors; in the Rare Handcrafts Gallery, artisans will demonstrate techniques used to decorate enamel timepieces and domed clocks; in the Watchmakers’ room, visitors will be able to see the inner workings of mechanical timepieces with Patek Philippe master watchmakers on hand. The Grand Complication room will present the most complicated and innovative timepieces to underscore the company’s competence in technical watch manufacture and innovation.

The Calibre 89 was created in 1989 to celebrate Patek Philippe's 150th anniversary. It was the most complicated watch in the world at the time. (Patek USA)
The Calibre 89 was created in 1989 to celebrate Patek Philippe’s 150th anniversary. It was the most complicated watch in the world at the time. (Patek USA)

The Museum room will resemble Patek Philippe’s company museum in Geneva with an antique collection of some of greatest historical timepieces spanning the last five centuries, including the earliest watches ever made.  On view as well will be historical Patek Philippe timepieces dating back to 1839 when the company was founded. 

After viewing the exhibits and watchmaker demonstrations, visitors can relax at the Patek Philippe Café. 

“The Art of Watches, Grand Exhibition New York,” across from New York’s Grand Central Station, will be open to the public free of charge from July 13 through July 23, 10:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.

Isabelle Kellogg
Isabelle Kellogg