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As a Patek Philippe exhibition opens in Singapore for the first time, the watch brand looks to a newer, younger audience 

Patek Philippe’s biennial Watch Art Grand Exhibition
The fifth iteration of Patek Philippe’s biennial Watch Art Grand Exhibition is taking place in Singapore

With this its fifth iteration, Patek Philippe’s biennial Watch Art Grand Exhibition has become something of a watch calendar mainstay.  

Following New York two years ago and London before that, this year it moves to the Far East for the first time and to Singapore. The city-state is routinely among the world’s top 10 importers of Swiss watches and home to any number of wealthy collectors.

The exhibition, which Patek says was two years in the planning and should attract as many as 60,000 people during its two-week run, stretches out across 10 themed rooms installed into the S$8bn (£4.75bn) Marina Bay Sands resort that overlooks Singapore’s famous harbour. These walk visitors through the Patek story, covering its current collection, history and movement manufacturing programme.

While the company has used the exhibition as an opportunity to unveil six special edition Singapore pieces – more than 1,500 saleable units in total – its chief executive Thierry Stern insists its primary ambition is to raise the brand’s profile. 

“We sold nearly everything [from this year’s new collection] at Baselworld in March, so it’s not a matter of selling watches,” he told journalists at the event. “It’s a matter of educating people who won’t have the chance to come to Basel or Geneva. It’s too easy to say we are very good and that everybody knows us – it doesn’t work like that.”

On display are pocket watches from the early 16th century to today, as well as this World Time watch

Many will find the most involving areas are the museum and métiers d’art rooms. In the former, Patek has gathered dozens of rare pieces from the collection normally housed in its downtown Geneva museum. 

On display are pocket watches from the early 16th century, Patek Philippe and the world’s first perpetual calendar wristwatch made in 1925, as well as the prototype Calibre 89 - the supercomplication made for the company’s 150th anniversary that, for a quarter of a century, was the world’s most complex watch with 33 complications.

Patek Philippe is one of the world’s leading producers of métiers d’art watches, or watches featuring esoteric artisanal decorations. At the exhibition, it unveiled 32 so-called ‘Rare Handcrafts’ pieces, table clocks and watches featuring enamel dials, miniature paintings, engraved cases, dials depicting traditional scenes or characters in wood marquetry, and details enhanced with guilloché, or engine-turned finishes. 

Mr Stern said he expects the show to generate new customers, some of whom will be children today. Those children, he said, “might also be the future best watchmaker in the world.”

Patek Philippe's Watch Art Grand Exhibition is on until October 13 at the Sands Theatre in Singapore; patek.com

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