Patek Philippe’s latest ladies timepiece collection presents an old favourite under a covetable new guise.

Portrait of Tammy Strobel

Patek Philippe’s latest ladies timepiece collection presents an old favourite under a covetable new guise.

Clockwise from top: The new campaign was lensed by famed Dutch photographer and cineast Anton Corbijn. Patek’s historical timepieces were showcased along with archival features by magazines, including Harper’s BAZAAR. Steel and diamond Twenty~4 Automatic, $34,400, Patek Philippe. An artist working on a guest’s portrait. A ballet performance that preceded the great unveil. A paper dress by Italian paper artist Caterina Crepax. Arabic numbers grace the new Twenty~4 Automatic watches.

A rose by any other name would smell as sweet. But as Patek Philippe’s new ladies watch collection shows, sometimes a different flower under an established name works wonders: The watchmaker’s popular Twenty~4 collection, first launched in 1999, has just been updated with new timepieces. And they couldn’t look, or feel, more different.

For one, the new designs have left behind the manchette shape so often seen encircling women’s wrists with its linear form. Instead, they bear a comfortably sized 36mm round case encircled with two distreet rows of offset diamonds that add just the right touch of sparkle to its gleaming form. All the better to ensure that the watch delivers on what its name suggests: To take women through every hour of the day, no matter the occasion, with a quiet yet unshakeable confidence that pedigreed sophisticates will appreciate. 

Even more pertinent is the fact that these 2018 editions are now equipped with Patek’s trusty caliber 324 S C: A self-winding movement prized for its accuracy and dependability; so much so that the brand has relied on it to drive many of its beloved watches, including its Aquanaut, Calatrava and much coveted Nautilus. Visible through the watch’s sapphire caseback, and crafted in accordance to the strict requirements of the Patek Philippe Seal—a standard of excellence so rigorous that it supersedes the de rigueur Geneva Seal of the industry—it’s a watch that any discerning woman can be proud to sport. 

“The Twenty~4 had a quartz movement and a beautiful design. But today, it’s time to evolve. We decided that women should have their own watches; not a gimmick; not something that looks like a man’s watch, yet not something totally new. Why should I do something totally new when the Twenty~4 is amazing?” says President of Patek Philippe, Thierry Stern, in his welcome speech to guests at the launch. Held in the courtyard of the brand’s Milan office, an international bevy of jounalists have flown into the city to discover the collection for themselves at the event. A glass conservatory, dressed up in coloured lights and filled with lush greenery, has been specially constructed for the occasion, offering a sight straight out of a fairy tale. Inside, the magic continues with a host of activities that have been organised to keep guests entertained on this chilly autumnal evening.

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Clockwise from top left: The Twenty~4 Automatic now sports a new shape. Queen Victoria’s pendant watch from 1851. Rose gold and diamond Twenty~4 Automatic, $74,400, Patek Philippe. The watches were hidden under Crepax’s dresses, which lifted to the ceiling to unveil them. A wall of plants to greet guests.

To the right of the entrance is a line of vitrines showcasing historical watches from the brand’s archives (including the blue enamel pendant watch that was presented to Queen Victoria in 1851) that reinforce its illustrious heritage in the field of ladies’ timepieces. To the left are talented artists whose purpose for the night is to nimbly sketch the likeness of guests through various mediums as they wait for the grand unveil. Taking centre stage are the incredible dresses of Milanese paper artist Caterina Crepax, under whose deft fingers paper’s form and structure are manipulated into a suppleness that would make silk blush. 

It’s an evening celebrating art and the artistry of making difficult, complex things look effortlessly simple. Much like the stars of the show, the Twenty~4 Automatic timepieces whose timeless, verstaile looks belie the efforts that went into its making. 

“I needed to adapt the movement and its size; I needed to adapt, also, the communication about it. So now we have a beautiful watch, an achievement of over five years of prototypes, of which a minimum of 40 of them got thrown away,” continues Stern. “I worked with Sandrine [Stern, Patek Philippe’s Head of Creation and wife of Thierry Stern] on this and every time we thought we had something, we said, ‘no, we have to find something better’. So tonight this is what we would like to offer you.” 

The hard work has paid off. Elegant at first glance, the watch’s sophistication becomes even more apparent when it is in one’s hands. The sensuous curves of the watch case echo the cambered central links of the collection’s distinctive bracelet for a harmonious whole. The clear legibility of the dial ooze utilitarian-chicness with golden Arabic numerals and baton hands (coated with luminescence for after-party functionality) that have been executed with utmost finesse. The timepiece’s reassuring weight and natural fit when worn on the hands is coupled with a new patented fold-over clasp to ensure you never have to fumble with something that was made to feel like second skin. 

The new collection comprises five diamond bezel creations: Two steel pieces with a grey or blue sunburst dial; and three rose gold numbers with a sunburst chocolate dial or a textured Shantung silk-like effect, the latter of which comes in a dressier version with additional diamonds on its crown, lugs and bracelet. 

The Twenty~4 Automatic is a true product of the creation ethos that runs through Patek Philippe’s core being—which is to deliver nothing but pure, elegant perfection. And much like its brethren, it doesn’t need to announce itself with bells and whistles because beauty as sublime as this speaks volumes by itself.