Collector’s Guides • 23 Oct 2015
3 Familiar Watch Functions You Didn’t Know Patek Philippe Patented
Antoni Patek and Adrien Philippe, who were respectively Polish and French, founded Patek Philippe in 1851. Apart from its status as a luxury watch brand, it is also notable for their technological feats and the numerous patents they hold. Among its more than 80 patents, we present 3 patents that are now a familiar function of modern day timepieces that Patek Philippe owns.
1. Perpetual Calendar Mechanism Designed for Pocket Watches (1889)
Each day has 24 hours while some months have 30 days and others, 31. February generally has 28 days but sometimes has 29. Moon phases likewise follow a roughly similar pattern but also have periodic variations. This complication makes putting an accurate calendar on a watch difficult. However, Patek Philippe was able to solve this in 1889 for pocket watches.
Its perpetual calendar mechanism was able to produce the jump in days, months and even moon phases seamlessly. The mechanism is characterised by its combination of its wheel, which carries a bevelled pin, its heart-piece and its levers that simultaneously cause its star-wheels to come into action. Being able to fit these complex mechanisms into the size of a pocket watch was a feat in its day.
2. Double chronograph (1902)
Today, split and lap timing is a standard feature of most chronographs. This was impossible until 1902. Patek Philippe made keeping time of different durations possible with the double chronograph mechanism.
To illustrate simply, pushing the first button on the crown activated both chronographs. Pushing the second button stops the second chronograph from running. The first continues running and the timekeeper may note down the time taken on the second.
What is remarkable is that a second push of the second button resets the second chronograph while a third push starts it again. Pushing the first button again concludes the process. Both first and second chronographs stop. This enables the timekeeper to easily observe timings of individual laps while knowing the time taken for an entire race.
3. Self-winding mechanism (1953)
In 1953, Patek Philippe released its first self-winding watch. This mechanism enabled a watch to be wound simply from the natural wrist motion from the wearer, and was a welcome innovation at the time. Put simply, it worked by transferring energy from motion into the winding mechanism.
A component that swings back and forth (pendulum) as the wearer moved his arm while walking is connected to a series of interlocking gears, wheels and ratchets that slowly winds the spring that powers the movement, thus transferring kinetic energy into potential energy. These parts worked simultaneously to aid in the transfer and thus each arm movement stores a bit of energy in the spring.
Today, self-winding watches are commonly found in many modern timepieces and it all started with this breakthrough more than 50 years ago by Patek Philippe.
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All images courtesy of their respective owners and are linked to their source origin.
–Patek Philippe Official Site
–Stephen Bogoff Antiquarian Horologist
–Times and Watches
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