The founding of Patek Philippe in 1839 can be traced back to the Polish insurrection of November 1830. Taking part in the revolt against Russian rule was a young cavalry officer, Antoine Norbert de Patek. Like many other of his compatriots, he was finally forced to flee.
Patek eventually settled in Geneva in the mid 1830’s and predictably became involved in the city’s watch making industry. Patek Czapek & Co was founded with a fellow Pole, François Czapek in 1839. In 1844 Patek met the French watchmaker, Adrien Philippe in Paris where the latter presented his pioneering stem winding and setting system by the crown. Czapek decided to leave the company in 1845 and go on his own. During their five year partnership, the company produced 1120 cylinder-escapement watches ornately decorated with religious, dynastic or patriotic motifs. Adrien Philippe replaced Czapek as Patek’s partner and the company then changed its name to Patek & Cie and before changing once more in 1901 for Ancienne Manufacture d’Horlogerie Patek Philippe & Cie, S.A.
Patek Philippe was chosen in 1851 to supply watches to Queen Victoria and her consort. Thus the company’s fortune was made and Patek Philippe was established as the watch makers to the courts and ruling families of Europe. In 1868, Patek Philippe made their first wristwatch. They have also pioneered the perpetual calendar, split seconds hand, chronograph and minute repeater in watches.
In 1932, the company was purchased by two brothers Charles and Jean Stern and since then, Patek Philippe S.A. remains a family owned firm, with 3rd and 4th generation at its head.