Journalists who were at the Patek Philippe’s Baselworld presentation earlier this year were among those to receive firsthand breaking news of the fifth Grand Exhibition by the last family-owned independent Genevan timepiece manufacturer.
For those lucky enough to have visited the previous chapters in Dubai (2012), Munich (2013), London (2015) or New York (2017), they would have more than an inkling of what to expect for the upcoming one in Singapore.
Occupying 1800 sqm and spanning ten themed rooms, the presentation is like a personal visit to the watchmaker’s historic salons on Rue du Rhône in Geneva, its manufacture in Plan-les-Ouates and the Patek Philippe Museum — encapsulated and reimagined for the Southeast Asian audience.
What makes this Grand Exhibition edition so special is its synchronicity with the Singapore Bicentennial—an earmark of the significance of the island state and the Southeast Asian nations in terms of their appreciation for fine horology. In addition, the event will also celebrate the launch of limited special-edition watches alongside a rare handcrafts collection infused with the cultural and artistic expressions of the region.
On the eve of its official opening, here is a rundown of what to expect at the exhibition:
Watching the film chronicling Patek’s history in the Cinema Room is the best way to get immersed in its world. Then step into the Current Collection Room, with interiors inspired by the Patek Philippe Salon on Rue du Rhône in Geneva, to appreciate the watchmaker’s current collection.
Next, view Patek’s limited special editions created specifically for the Southeast Asian market at the intimate Napoleon Room, surrounded by spectacular motion-picture views of Lake Geneva.
Absolutely not to be missed is the Museum Room, where a selection from the Patek Philippe Museum (inaugurated in 2001) including very rare timekeeping instruments will be exhibited in Singapore for the first time. It is also the first time that such a big collection has been loaned from the museum and showcased abroad.
Sectioned into two separate divisions similar to the Patek Philippe Museum at Lake Geneva are the Antique Collection and Patek Philippe Collection. The former opens up Patek’s celebrated history of watchmaking encompassing pieces such as the earliest portable timepieces from the mid- 16th century including a drum watch crafted in Nuremberg, Germany (S-892) in 1548; enamelled pocket watches; musical automata; and technical watches crafted by the most talented European watchmakers.
The latter section reveals the watchmaker’s horology prowess with the display of the manufacture’s most spectacular creations from 1839 to the present day, such as a royal watch gifted to Queen Victoria during the Great Exhibition at the London Crystal Palace (P-24/1851), the first Swiss-made wristwatch (P-49/1868), and a repertoire of famous Patek Philippe “super complications” such as the Calibre 89 (the world’s most complicated portable mechanical watch for over 25 years), and the Star Caliber 2000 (21 complications).
Besides those, visitors are also privy to view the pocket watch that Antoine Norbert de Patek obtained for his 30th birthday (P-1/1842) and the first documented wristwatch with a perpetual calendar (P-72/1925).
Among the most prized of ancestral skills used in the embellishment of Patek wristwatches and table clocks is the work of enamel painters whose guild has fostered a centuries-old link to watchmaking. Get up close with these specialist artisans as they demonstrate their artistry and techniques at the Rare Handcrafts Room.
Also, watch live on site the manufacture’s master watchmakers display their finesse and expertise on the inner workings of mechanical timepieces at the Watchmakers Room.
Underscoring the reputation of Patek Philippe is its mastery of grand complications of which the Grand Complications Room is the space to head to for hardcore horology collectors and aficionados. The concentration of the most complicated and innovative Patek timepieces in this unique overview is unparalleled.
The Movements Room is dedicated to the expansive catalogue of Patek Philippe movements from simple calibres to elaborate ones, while the Interactive Room offers a hands-on experiential tour of the manufacture and its calibre engineering processes.
Last but not least, the Singapore 200th Anniversary Room highlights the twin trajectories of Patek’s timepieces and events, coupled with Singapore’s historical milestones. A salute to the island-state and its neighbouring countries, this specially appointed exhibition complex gives a glimpse of their history, culture, art and natural surroundings via an extraordinary selection of timepieces on loan from museums and private collectors.
The highlights include: a Genevan pocket watch that depicts the port of Canton in miniature painting on enamel (S-112/1830); a dome table clock (Ref. 20074M) decorated with the “Thai Ornaments” motif in cloisonné enamel infused with silver spangles; peach-shaped pendant watches (S-303A-B/1810); a dome table clock themed “Tropical Island” (Ref. 20087M); and two pocket watches (P-1457) that once belonged to King Rama V of Siam.
Having taken in the Swiss watchmaker’s glorious watchmaking sphere spanning its vision and independence; innovation and creative freedom; tradition and exceptional know-how; quality and craftsmanship; aesthetic and rarity—along with its achievements and legacy, it is time to adjourn to the Patek Philippe lounge café for a perfect end to an eye-opening discovery.
The Watch Art Grand Exhibition Singapore 2019 is presented by Patek Philippe at Sands Theatre, Marina Bay Sands, from 28th September 2019 to 13th October 2019.
Find out more about this free public exhibition with ticket reservation details at patek.com/watchart2019.