The holiday season is upon us and Collectability would like to wish our readers all the very best for this festive time of year. Many of you are probably wrapping up with the holiday shopping and possibly sneaking off in pursuit of our own wish list. If you’re lucky enough to live or vacation near a Patek Philippe salon, you may be familiar with the spectacular decorations during the season. In the event you have opted out of trips to the stores and are enjoying some additional downtime, we thought rewinding through the ads of yesteryear would provide you with some holiday amusement.
So why ads? Nick Federowicz, founder of the vintage watch ad marketplace Ad Patina, has been at the center of promoting both appreciation and scholarship for vintage watch advertisements. When asked about the watch communities’ passion for vintage watch ads Federowicz stated, “Vintage advertisements offer so much, such as being a primary source documenting the history of a brand or model. But perhaps more than being a valuable resource, today their relevance has more to do with their power to evoke feelings and strengthen the relationship we have with watches.”
Sure, advertising can certainly distract us from the more important seasonal traditions such as giving back, or spending time with loved ones. Rather than promoting conspicuous consumption and materialism, Patek Philippe has often emphasized a tradition of relationships. Throughout the last century, the relationship between retailers and the manufacturer are almost always mentioned within the marketing. In modern advertisements, family members are more discernible than the timepiece itself. Part of the reason why Patek Philippe advertising has been such a success is due to the fact it promoted values rather than materialism. In the same manner we crave for information on a manufacturer’s history, movements, references and so on, much can be admired, and even discovered, by tracing back through advertisements of the past. Patek Philippe is renowned for not only the highest standard of watchmaking, but also for capturing the hearts of millions who look down at their wrists for more than simply the time. The history of Patek Philippe is one filled with romanticism and storytelling, much of which has come through the company’s advertising.
The 1930’s saw a transition in Patek Philippe advertisements from featuring pocket watches to including wristwatches. It was during this time that the Stern family took over the running of Patek Philippe and recognized the potential increase in demand for wristwatches. Within two years of their stewardship, the production of wristwatches made up for two-thirds of their output. Not only is the ad above distinctive in featuring Babbo Natale (Santa Claus for those studying Patek Philippe in America), but it also includes the noteworthy Italian retailer Eberhard Milan. Advertisements, such as this one, are timeless, transcending both eras and language barriers.
The retailer advertisements of the early 20th century would often emphasize the brand in larger text or in the case of the Jaccard Jewelry ad above, reiterate the name Patek Philippe to be noted by the consumer. Jaccard Jewelry Co. was not alone in boasting of their exclusivity in being the only house in Kansas with the privilege of offering “The Patek Philippe Watch”. Cities all across the United States would proudly proclaim the enthusiasm they held in offering a watchmaker of such quality. When speaking with retailers today, it is evident that these partnerships are still very much appreciated. An interesting note is the use of the word “horometry” as opposed to the more common term of “horology” (the term “horometry” was most popular during the late 1700s, early 1800s).
Charles Mayer & Co. was established in 1840 by Charles Mayer, a German immigrant who began his life in the United States at the age of 19. Interestingly, the 105th year anniversary is acknowledged within this 1945 ad featuring what appears to be a Calatrava with Breguet numerals. Here we see not only “The Foremost Watch”, but also the multi-generational marketing incorporated by informing the reader that a Patek will be “treasured from generation to generation”. If you somehow managed to overlook the very subtle “20% Tax” hopefully you could convince the salesperson to include complimentary gift wrapping!
Easily one of the most iconic Patek Philippe timepieces to come out of the 1940’s was the ref. 1593 or “The Hour Glass” as it is commonly referred to by collectors. The model is among some of the most ingenious designs from the case maker Markowski. Sheldon Jewelers spotlights both the local trust, as well as international exclusivity in being among only 200 retailers in the world offering the brand within this 1951 ad.
Regardless of which watch the J.B. Hudson & Co client decided to place under the Christmas tree, the lucky recipient would surely have been as happy as a young child on this special morning. Although not uncommon, advertisements featuring a multitude of timepieces are among the most exciting to enjoy. Here we see from the top ‘A’: a ref. 2501 “Disco Volante”, the ref. 1593 “Hour Glass”, a classic Calatrava with Breguet numerals, a ref. 1450 “Top Hat” and an elegantly designed ladies diamond model.
The above advertisement is reserved for only the most discerning connoisseurs. Although not specifically mentioned, one notices the time only Calatrava from the New York retailer. More often than not, Patek Philippe timepieces that were sold through Raymond C. Yard would be double signed.
The Miami retailer Maynard-Page advertisement above features a time only Calatrava accompanied with a “Henri Stern buckle” which was designed specifically for wristwatches sold within the United States. From the 1950’s into the 1980’s, these buckles served as an additional indicator for the Henri Stern Watch Agency (Patek’s US distributer) and Patek Philippe retailers that the wristwatches were legally imported into the USA.
J Faren-Price is Patek Philippe’s longest serving retailer in Australia. The advertisement above offers an early visual into the relationship with the Sydney retailer just three years after Patek Philippe returned to the country in 1977. Featuring accessories from the Golden Ellipse collection such as cufflinks, keychain, and a ref. 9504 Golden Ellipse lighter, the era of late 70s – early 80s Patek Philippe is encapsulated beautifully.
The advertisements of Patek Philippe offer a unique vantage point into the brand’s past. They invite collectors to seek further information on personal references, timepieces of provenance, and learn about how the brand’s marketing and history evolved. In addition, it provides insight into the traditions that have been a cornerstone of the brand’s DNA and the relationships that have remained over the course of generations. Collectability looks forward to expanding further upon Patek Philippe’s past, present and future.
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