Since 2009, Patek Philippe has been defining its own standard of excellence with the Patek Philippe Seal, or PP Seal for short, in place of the Geneva Seal with which the pinnacle Swiss watchmaker previously certified its movements. Yet, many still do not know the difference between the two seals, which prompted me to write this post.
While the Geneva Seal, or Poinçon de Genève, has long been considered the gold standard in the industry, its scope was limited to the finishing and decoration, and only of those of the watch movement (though those standards were upgraded in 2012, several years after Patek Philippe switched to the PP Seal). Most notably, testing for precision was merely an optional part of the Geneva Seal, though that is now integral after the 2012 revamp.
These gaps partially prompted Patek Philippe to introduce its own PP Seal in 2009. And perhaps Patek Philippe’s withdrawal was a factor behind the reform of the Geneva Seal’s standards.
The PP Seal is a fairly comprehensive certification for the vertically integrated manufacture, covering almost every aspect of the watch, from the movement to the case and other watch parts such as the dial and the bracelet. It takes technical, functional and design-related aspects – and even the ownership experience – into account.
Its focus on finishing and decoration extends beyond the watch movement, to include the dial and case that are already subject to strict rules on which surfaces are to be satin-finished or polished, or the quality of gemstones used. For example, diamonds used in Patek Philippe products must conform to the Top Wesselton colour specifications and must be gem-set and never glued on. Applied numerals and markers on Patek Philippe watches are always made of gold, and so too are the hands, unless special considerations dictate otherwise.
Moving to the technical aspects, the PP Seal also defines standards for acoustics on its repeaters, famously and informally known as the Stern’s listening tests – a reference to the company’s owners listening to each repeater before it leaves the factory – but are in fact also measured and recorded with special instrumentation. And you are probably never going to see an outsized Patek Philippe watch, because the PP Seal says that the finished watch must possess a case that optimally fits its movement.
Rate accuracy is a key part of the PP Seal. Unlike the optional version in the Geneva Seal, testing is done on both the raw and encased movements, so when Patek Philippe guarantees an accuracy range of -3/+2 seconds per 24 hours on their watches (for calibres larger than 20mm in diameter), those figures apply to the finished watch and not merely on the calibre alone.
Finally, the PP Seal promises an international aftersales service team that will strive to maintain and repair every single Patek Philippe watch sold since 1839, ensuring that your family heirloom will remain ticking for generations to come.
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Low Ka Wei – Singapore
Low Ka Wei is a freelance editor and writer. He cut his teeth at men’s lifestyle magazines NewMan and Arena and last helmed luxury lifestyle title The Peak where he was editor from 2009 to 2014.