Five years after breaking ground, Patek Philippe’s new 10-storey headquarters is big enough to conceal seven Airbus A380s and has a basement the size of 90 Olympic swimming pools
atek Philippe recently released a press release announcing the completion of its new mega-manufacture in Plan-les-Ouates, Geneva.
More interesting than the sheer size of the thing – which, at 189 meters in length, 67 meters in width and requiring the steel of two Eiffel Towers to build, was, by itself, mind-blowing enough – was what the allocation of space within the hangar-sized headquarters revealed about the business plan of the last family-owned watchmaker in Geneva.
For, while a considerable amount of square footage is taken up by a 299-seat auditorium and a penthouse restaurant large enough to accommodate 880 guests, also considerable, the press release explained, is the space given over to the production of spare parts needed by the brand’s customer service department – a division that Patek Philippe openly credits for helping raise annual revenues to more than £1 billion (£1.15 billion in 2019, according to Morgan Stanley).
While production has remained at around 62,000 watches a year, production of complicated watches – that’s chronographs, annual and weekly calendars, minute repeaters and world time watches – has grown to account for almost half of Patek Philippe’s inventory. The brand's phenomenal modern success hasn’t been down to the fact it’s been making more watches, but because it’s been making more complicated – read 'expensive' – watches.
The result is a growing number of in-house calibres and an increase in the average number of components per watch. Add to this growing demand for highly-elaborate, bespoke commissions, the need to service an increased number of intricate watches, and a desire to foster this trend for the next 20 or 30 years, and the upshot is the need for a nerve centre of such gargantuan proportions.
A Calatrava to commemorate the occasion
As has come tradition with company milestones, Patek Philippe marks the completion of its new manufacture with a limited-edition commemorative watch. Rather than precious metal, the case of the Calatrava Ref. 6007A-001 is comprised of polished steel, a material that’s highly sought-after among collectors for the fact that it is seldom found in Patek Philippe’s collections.
The 40mm, time-and-date model features a date aperture at three o'clock and is powered by a self-winding movement. Its grey-blue dial features a carbon-fibre style texture at its centre, a white-printed five-minute scale and a railway-track hour circle at its perimeter. Only 1,000 pieces will be produced.
Calatrava Ref. 6007-001, £21,710, Patek Philippe, patek.com