As many admirers of Patek Philippe ladies’ watches will know, women were pivotal in the development of the Swiss brand. Among them was Countess Koscowicz of Hungary, who bought an elaborate bracelet watch in 1868 and, quite unwittingly, went down in the annals of history as being the owner of the world’s first Swiss wristwatch.
Inspired by this forward-thinking client - and allowing for a dose of poetic licence in our run-up to Christmas - I have conjured up a gift list for the Countess’ imaginary 21st century descendants. I like to imagine the Countess sitting in her castle watching the first snow blanket her gardens as she wraps the seven Patek Philippe watches she has picked out for the different women in her fictional family.
Callista is a famous painter and when the Countess saw this mesmerising rose gold Gondolo high jewellery model, she knew it was a match made in heaven. The stylised tonneau-shaped case, inspired by watches Patek produced for a Brazilian jeweller at the turn of the last century, will appeal to Callista’s artistic sensibility, as will the delicate hand-guilloché gold dial that swirls with floral motifs, set with 367 diamonds and gold cabochon hour makers. A flurry of 480 snow-set diamonds have settled on the bezel with their magical light, while inside a manually-wound mechanical movement will keep time for up to 44 hours.
Coral is the fashion designer in the family and renowned for her glamorous and extravagant designs. Extroverted and vivacious, this vibrant Patek Philippe Calatrava watch caught the Countess’ eye. The draped ribbons of baguette-cut diamonds that swathe the dial echo Coral’s passion for haute couture, and the gorgeous fuchsia dial with a satin-like sheen is a perfect match for her outgoing style. Inside the 34mm white gold case is a manual-winding mechanical movement, which can be viewed through the sapphire crystal caseback.
Caroline is a woman of great intelligence and style. As a career diplomat, her social agenda is demanding and the Countess has selected this stunning high jewellery Twenty~4 watch. A declination of Patek Philippe’s famous Gondolo watch, this Twenty~4 model offers a sleek, refined silhouette set alight with the fire of 36.30 carats of white diamonds. The 24 x 27.75mm white gold case curves perfectly to sit on the wrist and is set with dramatic baguette-cut and round diamonds - an ideal chaperone for formal occasions.
Chiara finished law school and is now working with an international firm, flying around the world non-stop. For this world traveller, the Countess has chosen the 36mm white gold World Time watch in the hope that with 24 time zones on the dial and a day/night indicator, Chiara will never forget the time at home and avoid calling her parents in the middle of the night. Both functional and elegant, the diamond-set bezel is very in keeping with Chiara’s sophisticated, exacting character. Equipped with a mechanical automatic movement, the world time complication is a breeze to adjust thanks to a simple pusher located at 10 o’clock.
For Charlotte, who is getting married in the spring, the Countess has selected a very beautiful model from the Calatrava collection in a 33mm rose gold case with the loveliest cream-coloured guilloché dial and diamond-set bezel. A classic among Patek Philippe watches since it was first presented in 1932, the Calatrava speaks volumes about the understated elegance associated with the brand. She’s even hoping Charlotte will wear it for her engagement party in the New Year.
Constance is Charlotte’s twin sister but far too busy with her work at the NGO to even think about having a boyfriend, and prefers to spend her free time horse riding, skiing or scuba-diving. The Countess has made a perfect choice with this handsome 35.2mm stainless steel Nautilus watch with a sporty blue dial and other features that will be appreciated, such as the luminescent coating on the numerals and hour markers, a practical steel bracelet with a fold-over clasp and, naturally, water-resistance to 60 metres for her scuba-diving adventures.
For Caterina, who will be resuming her second year at university after the Christmas break, the Countess has chosen an Aquanaut. It is her first Patek Philippe watch and because she is doing so well at university, the Countess wants to get her started in the family tradition. Nothing too delicate mind you, it will have to be something that can keep up with her lifestyle and this Aquanaut model is a very suitable choice: young at heart with its chocolate coloured dial, the watch comes in a robust 35.6mm stainless steel case and rubber strap and is water-resistant to 120 metres. With a sprinkling of diamonds on the bezel for a touch of femininity, the watch is equipped with a quartz movement for carefree maintenance.
The light is fading and the Countess takes the seven packages and places them under the tree as seven chimes break the silence. The Countess smiles and looks down at her wrist to admire her very own Minute Repeater in a rose gold case - Patek Philippe’s first grand complication for women that chimes the hours, quarters and minutes on demand. Proof positive for the Countess that women continue to occupy a very special place at Patek Philippe.