Dawn On The Lake: Celebrating Patek Philippe’s Grandiose 175th Anniversary With Art And Collaboration
Patek Philippe’s 175th anniversary celebration, which took place on October 13, 2014 at the brand’s impressive factory in Geneva, was a firework of artistic expression.
Not only was this true for the many timepieces introduced in honor of the anniversary, but also for the event itself, which was uncharacteristically colorful.
The explosion of color served an important purpose: it heralds a new era at Patek Philippe, an era that begins with the dawn of a new, yet familiar, future.
Naturally, today all eyes are on the big introductions: the Grandmaster Chime, the Chiming Jump Hour, the World Time Moon, and the Multi-Scale Chronographs. These are all extremely interesting pieces from both a collector’s standpoint and from the way they combine functionality with an artistic expression of heritage. We will certainly come back to some of these in the not-too-distant future.
What I’d like to focus on today is one of the special timepieces likely to be at least a little overlooked among all of the grandiose new timepieces: from the unique oeuvres that Patek Philippe calls its Rare Handcrafts, I’d like to single out the piece called Dawn on the Lake.
More soberly known as Reference 993/100G-001, this exquisite pocket watch encircled by gold, diamonds and enamel was on display in the little chateau behind the main factory that Patek Philippe utilizes to entertain its important guests. Next to the watch was its creator, Anita Porchet.
Porchet is already known to many as the premier enameler in the world of watches. A freelance artist, she has nonetheless worked with Patek Philippe for decades, creating colorful shells for Dome Clocks and intriguing little works of miniature enamel art that pose as dials for unique timepieces.
For the celebratory Dawn on the Lake, Porchet put her artistic ability and stamina to a serious test. The dial on the front comprises five separate miniature enamel paintings. A sixth larger one is found on the outside of the back cover of the hunter case.
And the circle posing as the frame for the watch – simultaneously symbolizing infinity and time – as well as its base, are embellished with pailloné enamel leaves made from flecks of real silver. Some of the enamel is fashioned as ivy, interspersed with diamonds, which hangs “over” the main piece of art.
As a master enameler, Porchet’s role usually starts and finishes with the dial of a watch. What makes Dawn on the Lake even more special is the fact it is Porchet’s first oeuvre in which she has had artistic responsibility for the whole ensemble including support and stand.
Five miniature masters
While the “large” painting on the back (and large is relative here) depicts a scene on Lake Geneva, where Patek Philippe president Thierry Stern grew up and spent many happy hours sailing, the front is a masterpiece in persistence.
All of the scenes in Dawn on the Lake are from paintings in the Stern family collection.
The five paintings that seamlessly run into each other – making it slightly difficult if you do not know what you are looking at to discern one from the other – are inspired by works of five different artists of the same epoch: Paul Klee, Alexandre Perrier, Edouard Valent, Walter Mafli, and Ferdinand Hodler. All five of the miniaturized scenes depict nature, while a loupe held to the Klee section reveals that Porchet even emulated the tiny squares that Klee’s works comprised (as opposed to dots like in pointilism).
The world in miniature
The work that Porchet and other artisans displayed in conjunction with the anniversary that evening is nothing short of incredible: a fitting tribute to not only 175 years of a masterful Geneva horological tradition, but also to the fourth generation of Sterns to lead this company.