A month away from its official release and after placing our order on the Patek.com website, last Friday we received our very own copy of the most definitive and the only authorized Patek Philippe biography. A must have and a must read, this book exceeded our expectations as soon as we opened the shipping container that came all the way from the U.K as the book was carefully packed inside a second white box with the Patek Philippe logo and the words 'The Authorized Biography' on the front. With our Golden Ellipse ref. 3738 on our wrist and a warm coffee by our desk, we first removed the cellophane wrap from the white box and then proceeded to take the book out. With the same excitement that characterizes a small kid unwrapping a birthday present, we took the book out and admired the elegant tissue paper with a Patek Philippe Calatrava cross pattern that the book was wrapped in.
Properly sealed with a Calatrava cross label on the back, we carefully slid the book from the tissue paper and felt the matte uv coating on the dust jacket of the book. A moment that we've been waiting for since the day the book was officially released.
The Patek Philippe: The Authorized Biography book written by Nicholas Foulkes —an acclaimed specialist in art and horology— features 544 pages to be precise and 600+ images of watches, advertisements, the manufacture, the Patek Philippe Museum and some very special candid portraits of different members across four generations of the Stern family.
So far the English edition is the only one being released and will be followed by other languages as of 2018. Drawing on exclusive interviews with the company’s owners and with staff and watchmakers past and present, as well as on hitherto unseen documents from the company’s archives, Patek Philippe: The Authorized Biography celebrates the history of a unique company tracing its history back to its founder Antoine Norbert de Patek’s early life, his meeting with gifted watchmaker Jean Adrien Philippe and the 1932 purchase of the company by the Stern family, who have turned it into the legend that it is today.
Divided in 25 chapters and with three Appendixes containing all Patek Philippe watch references since 1932 sorted by number, calibre and date of first release, this book is a must have and a must read for anyone deeming to call himself/herself a true watch collector or a watch scholar. This Authorized Biography reveals for the very first time, the story of a unique timepiece bought by Queen Victoria for her husband Prince Albert as well as other information that had not been published until know. Additionally, Nicholas Foulkes was granted privileged access to interview the widow of legendary watch designer Gerald Genta who created the Nautilus ref. 3700 in 1976.
The first thing that one gets to read after opening the book —directly on the dust jacket of the book— are some brief preface words from Mr. Philippe Stern —President of Patek Philippe. His words clearly reflect his passion and love for horology and for Patek Philippe. His words: “I am very pleased to see the history of my family’s company come to life in this excellent volume. This is the first time that the Patek Philippe archive has been accessed and brought to life in a factual and definitive work. Nicholas Foulkes has perfectly recreated the atmosphere and details of our 175-year journey.”
Reflecting Nicholas Foulkes' eclectic cultural background, the book maps out a fascinating journey that spans throughout the last two centuries. Its focus is on trends in art and the progression of watchmaking within a broader historic context.
With specially commissioned photography by Andy Barter, Richard Foster, Jonas Marguet, and Jennifer Niederhauser Schlup the book measures roughly 12' x 12' and will be available in a print run of 10,000 copies published in English.
In summary, 'there are watch books and then there's this book'. An impressive book that everyone that loves watches —and especially Patek Philippe timepieces— needs to own. The book can be ordered via Patek's website or purchased at the Patek Philippe Museum in Geneva, the Patek Philippe Salons in Geneva, London and Paris, and from your local authorized Patek Philippe retailers.
Sticker Price CHF220 Swiss Francs plus shipping, which in our case was only an additional CHF20 —approximately $250 USD. For more info on Patek Philippe click here.