Getting a “Round”: Patek Philippe Twenty-4 Automatic

Legendary Swiss watch brand Patek Philippe forges forward – making even greater strides in the world of women’s mechanical watches.

Just a couple of months ago in Milan, Patek Philippe made a major announcement: the brand was releasing a new collection for women. The unveiling came 19 years after the release of its big designed-for-women watch line, Twenty-4. Now, the collection, Twenty-4 Automatic, brings the heretofore manchette-shaped, predominantly quartz collection to new heights. As Patek Philippe this year celebrates 20 years of the Twenty-4, the new round ladies’ Twenty-4 Automatic watches with mechanical movement round out the series with ease and elegance.  According to Thierry Stern, President of Patek Philippe, “It is time for women of today to have their own watch. Not something that looks like or is an extension of a men’s watch, but something made for them. It was time for us to evolve.”

Patek Philippe and Women’s Watches
Make no mistake, Patek Philippe is not a newcomer to building women’s mechanical watches. Since its inception in 1839, the brand has built watches for women. In fact, as early as 1851, Patek Philippe crafted exquisite pocket and pendant watches, all lavishlu finished with engravings, gemstones or enamel work. In 1851, Queen Victoria purchased a blue enamel pendant watch, and a decade later, in 1868, Patek Philippe crafted its first women’s wristwatch for a Hungarian countess. Over the ensuing century and a half, the brand endowed a host of ladies’ watches with complicated movements, including minute repeaters.

Throughout the past two decades of the 21st century, after launching the dynamic, ultra-feminine Twenty-4 manchette watch with a quartz movement (except for a Haute Joaillerie model that was released in 2003 with a manual-wind caliber), Patek Philippe has released some important women’s mechanical watches. Among them: the Ladies First Chronograph. Annual Calendar, Ladies First Minute Repeater – each limited by production. Turning to its beloved Calatrava, the brand unveiled the Ladies First Minute Repeater, and then a Nautilus Dames and an Aquanaut Luce.

None of these watches, however, was part of a collection geared exclusively for women. They were either one-watch unveilings or watches that utilized existing cases (first designed for men). As such, five years ago, Patek Philippe began a journey that would take the women’s Twenty-4 collection and enhance it with an offshoot style that is perfect for today’s contemporary and sophisticated woman who wants a highly wearable mechanical watch on the wrist.

The Making of the Twenty-4 Automatic
The journey, according to Stern, was not an easy one. Throughout the five years of research and development to achieve the perfect round case with integrated bracelet and feminine over architecture, he and Sandrine Stern, head of creative for the brand, regularly went back to the drawing board, tossing away as many as 40 different prototypes to arrive at the one that was worthy of joining one of the most successful women’s watch collections on the market.

The new Twenty-4 Round Automatic is a sleek timepiece that measures 36 mm in diameter and is offered in bracelet versions only, with a supple new three-row link bracelet with cambered edges for comfort and looks. The watch, which is water resistant to 30 meters, is decidedly feminine and offers hours, minutes sweep seconds and a date indication in a harmonious balance on the dial. Additionally, the sapphire crystal is slightly domed to complement the case profile.

According to Stern, the goal with the new collection is to reinforce Patek Philippe’s ladies’ mechanical watch collection – aiming to reach women who already know of the brand and the Twenty-4, but who want mechanics under the hood, so to speak. Instead of creating an all-new movement for the new Twenty-4 Automatic, though, Patek Philippe turned to a workhorse movement whose precision and excellence stand the test of time. The 217-part Caliber 324 S C self-winding movement powers the all-new collection. The movement incorporates the brand’s Spiromax balance spring in Silinvar, and a rotor finely finished with cotes de Genève.

The entire movement, which offers 35 to 45 hours of power reserve, is elaborately finished with chamfered and polished edges and with Geneva striping, and carries the Patek Philippe Seal. Naturally the caliber can be viewed via a sapphire crystal caseback. “Why should I create an all-new movement when we have something wonderful that we can adapt to this new collection,” says Stern. “The case is totally new and the movement is reconfigured to fit the new Twenty-4.”

Five Variations of the Twenty-4 Automatic
For the launch of the new Twenty-4 Automatic, Patek Philippe unveils five models. Each is, of course, created in the brand’s Geneva Manufacture and finished to the highest standards both inside and out. Additionally, each of these models features a hand polished bezel that is meticulously set with 160 Top Wesselton diamonds (0.77 carats) in a “Dentelle” (lace-like) pattern forming two rows. All five of the new watches feature the aforementioned finely polished new bracelet, along with a new patented fold-over clasp.

Every Twenty-4 Automatic boasts a clean dial design with applied Arabic numerals and baton hands that are coated with luminescence. Each of the versions has a different dail color. The two polished stainless-steel models are offered with either a sunburst gradiated gray/black dial or a rich blue sunburst dial. The rose-gold versions feature either a chocolate brown gradient dial, or a very creative silver/gray dial with an elaborate vertical and horizontal satin finish that yields a linen-like texture designed to recall Shantung silk.

The stainless-steel models retail for $26,083, while the rose-gold versions retail for $45,361. The fifth watch in the collection also boasts the Shantung-style dial, but is ultra-feminine thanks to the extra Dentelle-set diamonds that grace the crown, lugs and outer links of the bracelet. Crafted in 18k rose gold, this version is set with 469 Top Wesselton diamonds (weighing about 1.88 carats). This model retails for $56,702.

Begin Your Own Tradition
To underscore its commitment to today’s generation of women, Patek Philippe is also generating an all-new advertising campaign via digital, video and print assets. The “Begin your own tradition” tag line is a play on the brand’s long lasting, major-impacting campaign, “You never really own a Patek Philippe, you merely look after it for the next generation.” The message in the new campaign is clear: defy the norm; tell your own story.

While Patek Philippe is not abandoning its beloved “generation” campaign, the new “Begin your own tradition” concept relates more closely with today’s generation of buyers. The campaign for the new Twenty-4 Automatic was shot on location in Rome by Dutch photographer Anton Corbijn. Corbijn is not only a photographer, but also a music video director and film director, and has been responsible for the visual photography for both Depeche Mode and U2 over the course of three decades.

The Patek Philippe “Begin your own tradition” campaign features successful women on the rise in their careers in a lifestyle motif, at work, having coffee, going to meetings and the like. The video component is especially compelling thanks to the Roman setting and the meticulous fashion choices of the women. It is expected that the campaign will reach the discerning female audience and draw attention to the new round Twenty-4 Automatic.

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