Patek Philippe Puts the Full Scope of Its Artistry on Display with a Virtual Exhibition of Rare Hand-Crafted Pieces


In case Geneva wasn’t on your travel itinerary earlier this year, you can now take an online tour of Patek Philippe’s Rare Handcrafts 2022 exhibition. The digital tour, designed to show off contemporary interpretations of ancient techniques by the house’s artisans, is a virtual peacock’s fan of virtuosic objets d’art.

The sumptuous show is an aesthetic swerve from the sleek, austere luxury that probably comes to mind when thinking of the heritage horologist. The brand does audacious color and ornamentation just as well, combining Swiss precision and artisanal techniques into a stellar 59-piece collection that was displayed for three weeks in the flagship’s salons in April. The selection of pocket watches, wristwatches, and clocks weren’t just timepieces, but handcrafted heirlooms and exquisitely enameled objects.

All the items are rich in technique and narrative, but the dome table clocks are particularly decadent in their splendor and construction, offering 360 degrees of storytelling—like desktop murals or sculptures.

Patek Philippe's pocket watch based on Cuban tobacco leaves.

This pocket watch’s white-gold dial was hand-guillochéd with a pattern of tobacco leaves, evoking Cuba’s famous cigars. Great artistry and skill is required to combine different guilloché motifs on the same dial plate to achieve relief effects and contrasts. The border of the case back, the bezel, and the bow were hand-engraved. A green tsavorite cabochon adorns the crown. Courtesy of Patek Philippe.

In more portable formats, a selection of monkey-adorned watches derive from the work of Nicolas Huet the Younger (1770–1830), the French naturalist and resident painter of Paris’s Muséum d’Histore Naturell (as well as Empress Josephine’s personal menagerie). The four designs—featuring an African Diana monkey, a squirrel monkey, a marmoset, and a South American callithrix—are limited to editions of six watches per simian. Other animals, such as zebras, cheetahs, lions, and camouflaged chameleons, make guest appearances on other watches. The natural world then segues to themes of aviation and lively depictions of life in Las Vegas and Cuba.

The seemingly disparate subject matter has a cohesive through-line in that they all encapsulate and depict the beauty and wonder of our world. Here are some of our favorites from the collection.

An astonishing monkey based upon a Nicolas Huet the Younger illustration. Courtesy of Patek Philippe.

An astonishing monkey-adorned wristwatch, based on an illustration by the 18th/19th-century artist Nicolas Huet the Younger. Courtesy of Patek Philippe.

Kites, A Chinese dragon-inspired dome table clock. Courtesy of Patek Philippe.

The enameler used 13.5 meters of 24-karat yellow gold wire to outline this scene of Chinese-inspired dragons. Each plate required from 8 to 10 firings ranging from 800°C to 900°C. An hour circle embellished with black-enameled Breguet numerals frames a dial center in cloisonné enamel that continues the motif on the panels and dome. Courtesy of Patek Philippe.

Foliage dome table clock by Patek Philippe.

Peer into an enchanted forest through interlaced blue and green leaves. The hour circle displays blue transfer-printed numerals, and frames a dial center adorned with a sunburst motif coated with translucent blue enamel. Courtesy of Patek Philippe.

a Lake Geneva dome table clock courtesy of Patek Philippe.

This unique piece drew inspiration from the panoramic wallpapers made by the French family firm Ananbô and depicts views of Lake Geneva. Courtesy of Patek Philippe.


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