A Time and Place
Reprinted from Modern Jeweler
The choice of a fifty-year-old watch design to mark the opening of Patek Philippe's new watchmaking center has a satisfying symbolism. For what is the act of commemoration but a conversation between past and future, making manifest the values of one time to another.
Created in 1947, the original Patek Philippe watch has a shape which is both unusual and difficult to execute. The commemorative watch which it has inspired, the Pagoda, will be produced in a limited edition of 2,750, while rarer still will be the thirty commemorative Minute Repeater watches due to be issued at the same time.
For Patek Philippe, the move to Plan-les-Ouates in Geneva is an important event. Previously scattered among twelve workshops throughout the city, for the first time all aspects of the design and the production processed - unchanged in other respects - will be physically integrated within a single structure, full of light and air and designed specifically for its purpose.
To demonstrate the range and ability of its craftsmen, Patek Philippe has chosen to mark this commemoration with its most complicated case design. The Pagoda requires seventy-three separate operations, accomplished by specialists trained in five different crafts. When this limited edition has been completed, the dies used in the manufacturing process will be destroyed.
After a hundred and fifty-eight years of uninterrupted watchmaking, Patek Philippe creates the only timepieces entirely designed, manufactured, and assembled in Geneva, and with all the workshops mow under one roof, the new center will further integrate the developmental and manufacturing stages of the process. In contrast to the cutting-edge technology, the site in Plan-les-Ouates also includes the "Chateau Blan," an historic building dating back to the fifteenth and eighteenth centuries. The "Chateau" has been restored, and will house a museum dedicated to the global evolution of the art of watchmaking.
At the entrance to the new building stands the Spiral, a monumental fifty-two-foot sculpture designed by the Geneva artist Ander Bucher. Gateway to this most modern of buildings, the construction is also, perhaps, a bridge between old and new, like the Pagoda itself, a symbol of the reconciliation of tradition and change.
The Pagoda watches will be engraved with "Commemoration 1997 Pagoda" on the case back and will each carry the Geneva Seal hallmark, the highest official endorsement of wristwatch quality.
The man's Pagoda wrist chronometer, Ref. 5500, is created in a limited edition of 2,000. Fitted with the Caliber 215 manually wound movement, it will be available in yellow gold (1,100), white gold (250), and pink gold (500), and in platinum (150). For the first time, the COSC, Switzerland's official chronometer certification bureau, and the Geneva Seal Authority have jointly issued an exclusive rating certificate for the man's Pagoda.
The lady's Pagoda, Ref. 4900, in a limited edition of 750, is available in yellow fold (500), white gold (100), and pink gold (150). This model is fitted with the Caliber 16-250 movement.
The thirty self-winding wrist chronometers with minute repeater, Ref. 5029, in an officer's style case, are available in yellow gold, pink gold, and platinum (ten of each), only from Patek Philippe stores in Geneva and Paris. Fitted with the rare Caliber R27PS movement and engraved with "Commemoration 1997," these timepieces are delivered with the joint COSC and Geneva Seal rating certificate.