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
19 June 2020
Perhaps what was most interesting about the press release that announced the completion of Patek Philippe’s new mega-manufacture in Plan-les-Ouates, colloquially referred to as Plan-les-Watches, Geneva, was not 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, fairly mind-blowing – but 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, you see, 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 watches (read expensive).
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 the increased number of complicated watches Patek Philippe has been producing, and a desire to foster this trend for the next 20 or 30 years, and the upshot is a 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 seldom found in Patek Philippe’s collections – and for that reason a material highly sought-after among collectors.
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