Even if you have been to Tokyo, Patek Philippe gives us good reason to go back. From June 10-25, 2023, the brand is hosting its Watch Art Grand Exhibition Tokyo event which promises to 165,000 draw visitors in to experience this grand maison and all that it creates. This year marks the sixth and largest Grand Exhibition to date, and promises the unveiling of technical world firsts, dozens of one-of-a-kind timepieces and so much more — all boasting the finest artistry and craftsmanship that this independent brand can offer.
Open to the public, the exhibition offers guests the opportunity to discover the incredible haute horology timepieces built by this famed brand. The venue will occupy more than 2,500 square meters – all decorated by Patek Philippe to emulate the center of Geneva, from old town streets to a lakeside pavilion and into the manufacture.
As is the case with the Grand Exhibition, Patek Phillipe will bring more than 500 watches and objects of art to display in Tokyo at the largest exhibition the brand has ever hosted. The watches will demonstrate the different arts Patek Philippe’s skilled craftsmen and women execute – from highly complicated watchmaking to gem setting, enamel work, miniature hand painting, marquetry and more.
Additionally, the brand will bring its current collection for display and, as it does at every exhibition, will be unveiling some new pieces created expressly for the Grand Exhibition in Tokyo. More than 50 one-of-a-kind pieces — from wristwatches to pocket watches and dome table clocks – all inspired by Japanese culture will be on display. Patek Philippe also brings in craftsmen and the tools needed to demonstrate their arts to visitors. Among the new pieces are some technical world firsts.
Another 190 pieces are being brought to the exhibition from the brand’s Geneva museum, including objects dating from the 16th century that are rare examples of the oldest watches in the world. Antique Patek Philippe collection watches will include the first perpetual calendar wristwatch, circa 1925, and a James Ward Packard pocket watch, circa 1918.
With each exhibition, the size and scope of the Grand Exhibition increases. The first was in Dubai in 2012, Munich in 2013, London in 2015, New York in 2017 and Singapore in 2019. It is expected that approximately 165,000 visitors will flock to the Tokyo even, which will take place in the Sumitomo Sankaku Hiroba (triangular plaza) in the Nishi-Shinjuko business district. The space is at the foot of the triangular Shinjuko Sumitomo skyscraper.
In addition to the Grand Exhibition, Patek Philippe also hosts smaller exhibits from time to time to showcase the brand’s love of and desire to perpetuate the world of haute horology. Recently, during Watches & Wonders exhibit in Geneva, the brand displayed a host of spectacular rare handcrafts in its old-town Salon. Highlights from that event included a Leopard pocket watch made of wood marquetry, hand engraving and champleve’ enamel. The piece is an extraordinary lifelike portrait of a leopard made of 363 tiny veneer wood parts made using 21 different species of wood and 50 inlays. The border of the case back, the bezel and the dial side are embellished with a hand-engraved foliate pattern. It is displayed on a solid gold handcrafted stand on a base of black ebony from the Congo Basin. It is powered by a manually wound movement.
In stark juxtaposition to the leopard, an impressive “1948 Nations Grand Prix” Calatrava wristwatch was on display. It was one of 10 watches made to celebrate the Nations Grand Prix that was held in Geneva from 1946-1950. Hand painted and enameled, the dial depicts a racing car in Grand Feu cloisonne enamel using 17 different colors. Each dial required a dozen or so firings at about 820 degrees Centigrade – a risky but necessary step. These are just two examples of the incredible craftsmanship offered by this family-owned independent brand.