Artcile category: Iconic Watches

Timepieces Owned by Kings and Queens

Sep 03, 2007
Throughout the history of watchmaking, Patek Philippe watches have represented the choice of discerning collectors and watch connoisseurs of a certain social status and wealth. Since Queen Victoria's reign until the present day, monarchs, popes, world-known leaders and rulers have acquired the brand's timepieces either to wear, add to one's personal collection or present as a valuable gift to an important guest or in recognition of someone's outstanding bravery or loyalty.

In 1851, only twelve years after the company's foundation, Patek Philippe watches were supplied to Queen Victoria and her consort. The young Genevan manufacture chosen by the queen attracted great attention of all the royal courts of Europe and was appreciated by them as the place to buy watches.

Queen Victoria bought a Patek Philippe watch in November 1851 on the Great Exhibition of London held in Crystal Palace located in Hyde Park. The key-wound timepiece featured pendant style. The queen could wear it hanging from a pin, ribbon or other decorative detail on her clothing. The timepiece could also be worn hanging from the waist - this way timepieces were often worn by well-bred women of the time. The Patek Philippe timekeeping creation was crafted in yellow gold and embellished with diamonds and enamel radiating the beauty worth the queen.

Another Patek Philippe timepiece owned by Queen Victoria was worn by her Royal Majesty pinned to her clothing. It suspended from a diamond and enamel brooch. The timepiece executed in yellow gold incorporated elegant Breguet-style hands showing the hours and minutes in a really clean manner. Jean-Andrien Philippe patented the brooch-style timepiece in April 1845 in Paris.

The pocket watch was provided with a special inscription engraved on its yellow gold dome that represented the second protective cover underneath the hinged lid. The inscription said:' no. 4536 invention brevetee de Patek Philippe Co a Geneve.' Queen Victoria purchased the timepiece during the same Great Exhibition of London organized by her husband and consort, Prince Albert.

Pope Pius IX (1792-1878), who enjoyed the longest pontificate in the Catholic church history, appreciated finer things in life, having fallen in love with Patek Philippe pocket watches. Cardinal Gaspard Mermillod presented him with a Patek Philippe watch. Cardinal bought the custom-made timepiece in 1867, having paid 1, 370 Swiss francs.

The timekeeping creation had a yellow gold 49mm case with outside part enameled with Pope Puis IX's coat of arms. The dome also revealed a special inscription translated as the following: 'father, king, may you rule the souls and the hearts, Geneva 29 June 1867.' The mechanism of the timepiece comprised a quarter repeater with two gongs and a subsidiary seconds dial.

Christian IX and Louise, the king and queen of Denmark, ruled during the same era as Queen Victoria. As a noteworthy historical fact, it was Victoria who Christian IX courted first. With England not taking Denmark seriously, Christian's endeavors came to naught. He finally married Louise, Princess of Hessen-Kassel. The couple had six children.

At their 25-th wedding anniversary, Louise decided to give her husband as a gift a Patek Philippe pocket watch. The Queen of Denmark acquired the timepiece in October 1867 for 1, 640 Swiss francs.

The yellow gold 47mm case of the timepiece sported dark blue enameling. It was set with amazing 45 rose-cut diamonds that formed the originally intertwined letters L and C. One more peculiarity of the watch's design was the enameled ribbon snaking through the letters and featuring the marriage-symbolic dates Ц 1842 and 1867. The dome of the Patek Philippe pocket watch was provided with an enameled portrait of Louise.

In 1897, Victor-Emanuel III, king of Italy and Duke of Savoy in the period of 1900-1946, acquired a Patek Philippe pocket watch with the chronograph function. He paid for the timepiece 910 Swiss francs. The Patek Philippe timekeeping creation sported 30-minute and 12-hour totalizers. The watch's yellow gold 50mm case featured an enameled ducal crown and the initials VE interlaced with the bow of Savoy.

The Patek Philippe watch owned by Hussein Kamal, prince of Egypt in the period of 1914-1917, demonstrated one of the major horological trends of the day - the double time zone. Until 1884 when the globe was divided into 24 time zones at the Meridian Conference, nobody heard about the division of time zones and travelling around the world was really limited. Then, the rich and powerful became greatly interested in timepieces featuring time in two different time zones.

The Patek Philippe watch of Hussein Kamal had a dial under each of the lids on front and back, thus providing two different displays of the hours and minutes. The timepiece was sold to the prince in November 1898 for 550 Swiss francs.

The yellow gold 41mm case of the watch was embellished with guilloche and sported an engraving of the royal crown on both sides, a tughra on the front and an Arabic-letters-signature on the back.

Watches Channel


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posted by: Mike / Nov 30, 2014 02:22 AM
If you have never owned a Patek you cannot appreciate the incredible loyalty and love these watches solicit. I have owned Rolex, Omega, and others but it is only when I wear my complicated patek that I feel regal.
posted by: RDLT / Sep 11, 2009 03:09 AM
Yes, vey reliable until you drop it in the bath or forget it is on in the shower. The Rolex Submariner is the only sensible every day watch, totally indestructible and ruggedly good looking! Pateks are for poofs and nouveau Chinese prepared to shoulder the cost of their excessive advertising sales model.
posted by: Linda / Jul 17, 2008 11:16 AM
No wonder Patek Philippe watches have been the choice of queens and kings - after all, it's one of the most prestigious watch-making companies ever, with timepieces valued for their outstanding quality and reliability. As far as I know, each Patek Philippe automatic movement passes through about 600 hours of quality control. The watches are strictly tested during 15-30 days before they are offered for sale. The company produces watches in small quantities in series ranging from just a few pieces to several hundred.
I do not own a Patek Philippe watch myself, but I'm an avid fan of the brand and I especially like the Calatrava line with its classic round watches with their majestic porcelain dials.

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