It was just about 10 days ago in Plan-les-Ouates (outskirts of Geneva), Switzerland, that Patek Philippe officially announced the opening of its new 10-floor manufacturing facility. It also announced the launch of a new stainless steel Calatrava watch that was designed to celebrate this monumental occasion. I covered the story in depth then in my column on Forbes, but now I would like to take a closer look at both of these pieces of news.
New $600 Million Patek Philippe Manufacture
Construction on the new Patek Philippe manufacture project, conceived of in 2014, was begun in 2015 and took five years to complete. The purpose was to enlarge the brand’s growth ability — not to create more watches — but to grow all departments (rare handcrafts, research and development, fine watch assembly, and so much more ) under one roof. The cost: CHF 600 Million (approximately $600 million). The facility breaks all records when it comes to space and modern architecture.
The building, designed by Frisk de Marignac Pidoux in Geneva, consist of six above-ground floors and four below-ground floors. It brings all of the Geneva ateliers owned by Patek Philippe under one roof. From modern machinery and CNC machines for cutting and milling parts, to the hand-crafted movement making, testing and certification of watches, and even the rare handcrafts — everything comes together in the 133,650 square-meter space. The building also houses the refurbishing of its antique pieces here and customer service. It has an auditorium to seat 299 people and its entire research and design department occupies the third floor. There is even a penthouse restaurant with enough seating for 880 guests, and four VIP lounges. The new cruise-ship-plus sized Patek Philippe building also complies with the “Haute Performance Energétique (HPE)” standards and the energy laws of the canton of Geneva.
Originally, the building complex was built in 1996, but the brand has outgrown that space. The new building is a major accomplishment for the brand. The building volume alone is more than 540,000 square meters – or the size of 7 Airbus A380 planes. The basement volume equals more than 90 olympic swimming pools. Between the concrete and steel frame work (which equals two Eiffel Towers), the facility may well be the largest watch Manufacture ever built. Of the total CHF 600 million budget, the majority was allotted to the building, while CHF 100 million went to interiors and equipment.
Currently, Patek Philippe builds just about 62,000 watches a year for worldwide consumption. Each of those watches houses a growing number of components thanks to Patek Philippe’s expertise in complications. It does not intend to increase that number.
Meet the Patek Philippe Ref 6007-00A-001 Steel Calatrava
To celebrate this massive accomplishment, and in typical Patek Philippe style, the brand unveils a special limited edition watch: Ref. 6007A-001 Calatrava. The new commemorative piece is aptly built in stainless steel – reflecting the steel used in the new building. Because Patek Philippe rarely crafts watches in steel, that fact alone will make this piece in very high demand. Additionally, the 40mm watch boasts an exclusive design concept and just 1,000 pieces will be made — each retailing for $28,351
The bold blue dial with railway track scale and triangular markers, features a great graphic center that features a finely grained carbon-style texture. It boasts baton hands for the hours and minutes and features a date aperture at 3:00. Even the calfskin strap with textured pattern to match the dial center is in blue with white stitching.
The commemorative watch is powered by the self-winding caliber 324 S C movement that is visible via a transparent sapphire case back. Each watch back is marked with a Calatrava cross and the words “New Manufacture 2019” – denoting the year that the first departments moved into the building.