With Cipriani 42nd Street in New York City as the perfect setting for this Grand Exhibition, we were invited by Patek Philippe to the opening cocktail and preview of 'The Art of Watches Grand Exhibition' last Wednesday July 12th, 2017. This magnificent exhibition, open to the public with free admission for only 11 days from July 13th thru the 23rd is meant to showcase Patek Philippe’s tradition of high-precision watch manufacturing as well as to give the visitors an insight into the company’s 178-year history.
For the very first time ever a 13,218 square feet —approximately 1,227 square meters— two-story structure has been created within Cipriani 42nd Street. This massive structure that is a building within a building was required for an exhibition of this scale. The exhibition features ten dedicated rooms that include the Theater Room, the Current Collection Room, the Museum Room, the U.S. Historic Timepieces Room, the Rare Handcrafts Gallery and the Grand Complications Room, amongst other areas.
With our Patek Philippe Aquanaut ref. 5065A on the wrist, we embarked into a breathtaking night that we will never forget. The Patek Philippe 'The Art of Watches Grand Exhibition' is without a doubt, the most impressive watch exhibition we have ever attended and as far as watch events this year, it was for sure the best thus far. For those of us lucky enough to have visited the Patek Philippe Museum in Geneva, this was like a second visit at a smaller case. Don't miss reading our lengthy report on the Patek Philippe Museum here.
The Grand Exhibition is divided in two floors with rooms one thru six —Theatre Room, Current Collection Room, Napoleon Room, Museum Room, U.S. historic Room and Rare Handcrafts Gallery— located on the ground floor and then rooms seven thru ten —Watchmakers Room, Grand Complications Room, Movement Room and Interactive Room— on the first floor.
The Atmosphere, Food & Drinks
With a wonderful DJ playing some of the best lounge and EDM tunes at the opening cocktail, we were delighted by a wide selection of Italian inspired hors d'oeuvres —risotto, caviar, ravioli— and full on signature Italian pasta, seafood salads, antipasto, charcuterie, cheeses, frutti di mare, desserts and of course the finest selection of liquor, champagne, signature Cipriani Bellinis and our usual Negronis.
The Exhibition - The Napoleon Room
To give you an idea of the grandeur of this setup, the Napoleon Room is where the visitor will be transported to the Patek Philippe Salon on Rue du Rhone in Geneva. In this room, Patek has recreated the view from their windows at the interior of the Patek Philippe Salon in Geneva. Here, the visitor can see footage of the 'Jet d'Eau' on 'Le Lac Léman' just as if they were standing right there in Geneva and looking out the windows. In this room, is where the nine special watches that created to commemorate the exhibit are showcased.
The Exhibition - The Current Collection Room
This room as inviting as it gets with plush and posh burgundy red chaises forming a cross is where the current collection is showcased. The setup is designed to replicate the Patek Philippe Salon on the Rue du Rhone in Geneva. Collections displayed here include the Nautilus, Aquanaut, Calatrava, Twenty 4, Gondolo and Golden Ellipse.
The Exhibition - Rare Handcrafts Gallery
Watchmaker and artisan demonstrations are some of the interactive activities taking place during the exhibition as a way to educate visitors on the inner-workings of fine watchmaking the rare arts of engraving, marquetry, enameling, hand-painting, rose engine machine engraving —guilloché— and other horological forms of art. At the Rare Handcrafts Gallery, artisans do live demonstrations of techniques used to decorate enamel timepieces, pocket watches and dome clocks.
Additionally, a special selection of 17 Rare Handcrafts including dome table clocks and pocket watches showcasing these fine horological techniques are displayed here. From the Dome table clock 'Brooklyn Bridge by Night' with grisaille enamel and Limoges white to the Flinqué Enamel 'The Hour Circle' table clocks and a wide selection of very unique pocket watches with case backs paying tribute to the history, culture, and a number of the most beautiful landscapes of the USA, the visitor will leave in awe after visiting this particular room that happened to be one of our favorites.
The Exhibition - Museum Room, & U.S. Historic Room
Very much like the Museum in Geneva, the Museum Room will be divided into two sections. The first section is for the Antique Collection (1600’s-1900’s) with some of the greatest historical timepieces spanning the last five centuries and the second section highlights historical Patek Philippe timepieces dating back to 1839. Here is where you will find the earliest watches ever made including the world's first perpetual calendar, the legendary "Duke of Regla" which is a pocket watch with five-gong minute-repeating mechanism that plays the Westminster chimes —the Big Ben’s melody of London’s Houses of Parliament— on a petite and grande sonnerie and even the Patek Philippe Aviator's watch that served as inspiration for the references 5524 and 5522.
A very special room created for this Grand Exhibition is the U.S. Historic Room where significant timepieces from historic U.S. collectors like Packard and Henry Graves Jr. amongst others are on display. In this area, the visitor can also find George Washington's pocket watch, JFKs multi-city —Moscow, Washington and Berlin— desk clock and even Joe DiMaggio's Patek Philippe Chronograph ref. 130J.
The Exhibition - Watchmaker's Room, Grand Complications Room and The Movement Room
These three rooms are the most interactive as Patek Philippe master watchmakers will take you on an exploration of the inner workings of mechanical timepieces. In the Grand Complication room, one can enjoy Patek Philippe’s most complicated and innovative timepieces all in one space at one time. Lastly, in the Movement room, a room dedicated to many different types of Patek Philippe movements ranging from the most basic calibres to the calibre powering the Grandmaster Chime one can experience a fascinating and ultra cool virtual reality area where one can virtually explore the interior of the calibre powering the Grandmaster Chime Grand Complication ref. 5175.
A Night to Remember
A beautiful evening and a grand exhibition that has been perfectly orchestrated by Patek Philippe, Mr. Thierry Stern —President of Patek— and Mr. Larry Pettinelli —Patek Philippe's U.S. President. A watch exhibition unlike any other that will for sure make history in the U.S. and worldwide. For sure this will be a night we will never forget! As we sipped down that very last Negroni, we left with a big smile on our face and a handful of memories.
Special thanks to everyone at Patek Philippe for inviting us and to Mr. Stern and his wife for taking the time to do that special collective wrist shot with us. From top to bottom: Patek Philippe Triple Complication reference 5208P, Ladies' reference 5077R and Aquanaut ref. 5065A.