In The Magazine

New York Moment

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Who says you can’t travel back in time? Patek Philippe is opening a door to its past with “The Art of Watches Grand Exhibition” running from July 13 to 23. Held at Cipriani 42nd Street, the installation will feature a two-story experience center that reveals the history and significance of the Swiss brand’s timepieces. The free event is open to the public and features a curated selection of luxury pocket watches and wristwatches—from new styles to ones dating back to 1530.

Rather than selling watches, the exhibition is designed to educate visitors of all ages about the historical significance of timekeeping through the decades. The lengthy planning process began with selecting an ideal location. “New York was a logical choice, as this was one of the first landing spots for [Antoni] Patek and [Adrien] Philippe in the 1800s when they began to explore the new world,” said Larry Pettinelli, president of the Henri Stern Watch Agency, Patek Philippe’s U.S. division. “We chose Cipriani for the venue as it has a grand old-world event space and is right out the back door of Grand Central. It was a natural fit, as many commuters and tourists are in this neighborhood.”


Caliber 89 Pocket Watch


In a space of 13,218 square feet, there are 10 themed rooms, each highlighting a particular facet of the brand. Among them is the Napoleonic theme, which transporting visitors to the Patek Philippe salon on the Rue du Rhône, Geneva. Here, limited-edition watches are on display with a live digital backdrop of Lake Geneva. In the U.S. Historic room, there are 27 pieces on loan from institutions and private collectors that once belonged to iconic American figures—they include the autonomous quartz clock the Mayor of West Berlin gave to President John F. Kennedy in 1963 when he made his “Ich bin ein Berliner” speech. For anyone who ever wondered about the inner workings of mechanical timepieces, there’s the watchmaker’s room, featuring demonstrations with experts who will answer any burning questions that come to mind.

John F. Kennedy Clock


More than 20 years ago, the brand came up with its now legendary advertising campaign slogan, “You never actually own a Patek Philippe, you merely look after it for the next generation.” Referencing the importance of quality, its inspiration stemmed from customers who shared plans to pass on their timepieces to their children. “It wasn’t a gimmicky tagline and resonated with people because there is real substance to the message,” said Pettinelli, who has two daughters. “I think it’s important for kids to understand the value of a dollar and appreciate the fine, handcrafted watch before inheriting one.”

Staying true to its belief in the power of education, the exhibition will benefit the Kips Bay Boys & Girls Club, a nonprofit organization in the Bronx dedicated to enhancing

the quality of life for young people by providing educational and developmental programs. Patek Philippe is donating 100 percent of proceeds from the only items that will be on sale: $20 commemorative catalogs. Pettinelli continued, “Not all kids may be exposed to Swiss fine timepieces, but that doesn’t mean one day they can’t aspire to own one.”


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