MILAN — There were flowers, there was art, photography, music and a ballet — and a sprinkle of secrecy.
Patek Philippe chose Milan to unveil its new women’s Twenty-4 Automatic watch in October and planned an event whose details — even the reason for its taking place — were kept under wraps until president Thierry Stern took the stage positioned under a glass structure erected in the courtyard of the storied 17th-century Palazzo Serbelloni. “It’s been nearly 20 years after the debut of the Twenty-4 Manchette watch and we’ve been working on this new women’s timepiece for the past five years and through 40 prototypes,” said the affable executive.
The Geneva-based company is launching the first model of the collection with a self-winding mechanical movement in a round case. “In today’s evolving market, it’s key to listen to your customers, and we know that ladies would like to have their own fine watch and they don’t want it look like a men’s watch,” Stern explained.
Asked about choosing Milan for the launch — a first for Patek Philippe — Stern highlighted the city’s link to “fashion and beauty. We have to be in Milan. If it works in Italy, it will work everywhere.” He also said Italy is “a good market” for the company, which is one of the last family-owned watch brands. Stern succeeded his father Philippe in 2009 as the fourth-generation president of the company, which was established in 1839 at Patek & Czapek in Geneva. Jean-Adrien Philippe joined the company in 1845.
A striking selection of storied Patek Philippe ladies’ timepieces that are normally on display at the brand’s museum in Geneva was shown during the launch event in Milan, including the very first Swiss-made ladies’ wristwatch crafted in 1868 for a Hungarian countess; Queen Victoria’s blue enamel 1851 timepiece, as well as the first Patek Philippe strikework wristwatch for ladies, a five-minute repeater in platinum from 1916. There was also a retrospective of the brand’s advertisements for women’s watches from the Thirties until today.
The new Twenty-4 Automatic adopts the aesthetic appeal of the rectangular Twenty-4, first launched in 1999 and reflecting the idea that it was suited for any time of day or night, with an exclusive bracelet featuring gently cambered central links framed by delicate two-tier outside links.
The self-winding version stands out with a totally new round case of 36-mm. in diameter.
The beveled, diamond-set bezel is an elaborate construction that echoes the profile of the central bracelet links at 12 and six o’clock, emphasizing the harmony of the overall design.
The case and bezel are cold-formed in high-tonnage presses and then carefully machined to refine the contours. The dials are uncluttered, with applied Arabic numerals in gold as well as baton hands with rounded ends and luminous coatings. The sapphire-crystal glass is slightly domed.
The Twenty-4 Automatic is available in five versions: two in steel with diamond-set bezels, two in rose gold with diamond-set bezels and one in rose gold with diamonds set in the bezel, the bracelet and the crown. The diamonds are flawless Top Wesselton grade to comply with the exacting standards of the company.
The version in stainless steel comes in two dial colors: sunburst blue or sunburst gray, delicately gradated from the center. The rose gold watches are also available in two color combinations: a sunburst chocolate brown and gradated dial or a silvery gray dial graced with an exclusive double horizontal and vertical satin finish.
There is a stunning model lavishly adorned with 469 diamonds for a total of about 1.88 carats, including the crown, the lugs and the outer links of the bracelet. All bracelets are fitted with a new functional and convenient patented fold-over clasp.
The Twenty-4 Automatic is the first model in the collection to feature a round case. The steel version with diamond-set bezel is available with a blue sunburst or gray sunburst dial with black gradation. The core of the timepiece is the caliber 324 S C self-winding movement, which is visible through the sapphire-crystal case back, displaying hours, minutes and sweep seconds.
Prices range from $26,083 to $56,702.
To convey the message of a modern and independent woman wearing the watch, Patek Philippe invested in a major international advertising campaign dedicated to the new design both in print and through online platforms.
Flanking its “Generations” campaign launched in 1996, showing intimate moments shared by fathers and sons as well as mothers and daughters and underscored by the message “Begin your own tradition,” Patek Philippe for the Twenty-4 model presented a campaign with the headline: “Who will you be in the next 24 hours?” It illustrates the evolution of women’s self-confidence with an international campaign targeting customers aged between 30 to 40 and was developed by the Leagas Delaney agency in London.
Patek Philippe tapped Dutch photographer, music video and film director Anton Corbijn, who has worked with the likes of Depeche Mode, Bryan Adams, Nirvana and Coldplay as well as Agent Provocateur, and produced several feature-length films including “A Most Wanted Man,” based on the John le Carré book of the same name.
The Patek Philippe video was shot in Rome and shows model Jelena Kovacic as a busy woman tackling various everyday activities. The video is in 45-, 30- and 15-second versions.
The campaign also features print ads with themes inspired by the video and photographed by Corbijn, always featuring two images, one with the woman as the protagonist, the other showing the watch on her wrist. The motto of the campaign is “It lives my life.”
In addition to streaming the video on the brand’s web site and other digital platforms, the advertising initiative is complemented by specially decorated show windows at the Patek Philippe stores in Geneva, Paris and London as well as by animation displays at points of sale throughout the brand’s selective global network.