Singapore is a melting pot of different cultures thanks to its strategic position as a trading port and financial hub, out of this was born a rich heritage that continues to be reflected in almost every aspect of its society even today. Patek Philippe also upholds the same tenets, valuing both heritage and modernity, which is why it was apt that this year’s Watch Art Grand Exhibition was held at the Sands Theatres at Marina Bay Sands, especially as Singapore is celebrating its bicentennial year.
Previously held in Dubai, Munich, London, and New York, for seven years Patek Philippe has captured the hearts and imaginations of watch lovers, as well as the global public in general, with its Grand Exhibitions. Singapore and Southeast Asia are home to many watch collectors and connoisseurs with a passion for fine craftsmanship, rare handcrafts, and mechanical watchmaking. The tight relationship between all of these was showcased in the Singapore and Southeast Asia room, in which historical timepieces inspired by the region were put together to pay tribute to the rich history, culture, artistry and natural legacy.
Six limited-edition wristwatches, inspired by Singapore, were specially made for this year’s event. All were displayed in the Current Collection Room, just beyond the entrance, modelled after Patek Philippe’s salon on Rue du Rhône in Geneva—except for the 5303R-010 Minute Repeater Tourbillon in the Grand Complications room. The Napoleon Room that came next was also a replica of the brand’s historic salon, complete with a projected motion-picture panoramic view of Lake Geneva, which acted as a pleasant transition before entry into the Museum Room. Having transported the largest number of precious antique and Patek Philippe pieces from the Patek Philippe Museum in Geneva for the first time for an off-site exhibition in Asia, horological history was displayed from the earliest portable watch to the latest creations. Notable pieces included Queen Victoria’s pendant watches, the first Perpetual Calendar wristwatch, and founder Antoine Norbert de Patek’s pocket watch—all providing a beautiful prelude to even more Rare Handcrafts on display in the next room.
“For every Grand Exhibition, we research thoroughly about these pieces to be displayed according to the theme and criteria to fit the specific market before presenting them to the local office for planning and execution,” Sandrine Stern, Patek Philippe’s Head of Watch Creation, explained. Each one is made using the finest materials by master artisans in enamel work and wood marquetry, among many other techniques. One of these artisans was Master Enameler Anita Porchet, who gladly answered all the questions the visitors had.
Visitors were able to admire each unique piece before proceeding to the Watchmakers Room to meet the watchmakers, see them in action, and learn more about their work. Of course, all these beautiful watches require movements and complications to work, which is why the next two rooms were dedicated to showing how these watches tick ever so precisely. Watchmakers and apprentices from the Patek Philippe Institute in Singapore were on site to demonstrate how these mechanical feats were achieved.
For those who wished to try assembling a Patek Philippe movement, the Interactive Room provided two virtual-reality machines for a fun time putting together the movement of the Grandmaster Chime. Moreover, the exhibition also dedicated two Family Days to introduce younger visitors to the inner workings of a watch with a mechanical clock-making kit. Even more immersive was the “Time Treasures” hunt, which encouraged kids to find clues to create their own watch inspired by the exhibition.
By including all ages in learning about the brand inside and out and to enjoy the finest horology at the Watch Art Grand Exhibition, Patek Philippe stayed true to its mission as the last family-owned independent watch manufacturer in Geneva. As reflected in its successful Generations campaign, a Patek Philippe watch is never truly owned as it is only cared for the next generation, as shown by its familial legacy of more than a century—and still going strong.
This story appears in the November 2019 issue of Indonesia Tatler. For the full story, grab the copy at your nearest newsstand, or subscribe here.