Antoine Norbert de Patek was a soldier in Poland who in 1832 took part in the Polish rebellion against Russian rule. He was forced to leave Poland, and settled in Switzerland. Seven years later, with François Czapek, a watchmaker friend, he founded “Patek Czapek & Cie”.
The business grew, and differences emerged between the two partners. Czapek left the Firm, which became “Patek & Cie”, and the French engineer Adrien Philippe, who De Patek had met in Paris, joined the adventure. Philippe, a watchmaker from Versailles, invented the keyless winding and setting mechanism.
They very soon teamed up with a lawyer by the name of Vincent Gostkowski and in 1851, the company was renamed “Patek Philippe & Cie”. To stand out from the growing competition, Patek Philippe presented its first in-house movement.
At the Universal Exposition in London in 1857, Queen Victoria and Prince Albert bought a timepiece from them; as a result, the Firm rapidly consolidated its reputation, shooting to international fame.
In 1925, Patek Philippe presented its first wristwatch with perpetual calendar. This creative path was to be pursued down through the decades, embracing other complications such as the split-second chronograph, GMT, moon's phase and many more. Timepieces with the “PP” stamp on their dial soon became established as technical benchmarks.
Charles and Jean Stern, owners of a high-end dial manufacture in Geneva, bought out the Firm in 1932. Since then, Patek Philippe has remained in the family.