By Brecken Branstrator
Pictured here is “The Packard,” an astronomical pocket watch from the private collection of James Ward Packard, which will be on display at the upcoming Patek Philippe event, The Art of Watches Grand Exhibition New York.
New York--Centuries of Patek Philippe’s watchmaking history soon will be on display in New York City.

The brand’s The Art of Watches Grand Exhibition New York opens Thursday at Cipriani 42nd Street, offering the public a look into its 178-year history and some of its most important pieces.

For the first time, a two-story structure has been created in the event venue to accommodate its scale. It will feature 10 themed rooms, including a Theater Room, Current Collection Room, Museum Room, U.S. Historic Room, Rare Handcrafts Gallery and Watchmakers Room.

The U.S. Historic Room will have a curated collection of 27 timepieces on loan from various museums--like the Patek Philippe Museum in Geneva and the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum in Boston—as well as from some of the brand’s most renowned private collectors across the country.

Highlights in the room will include 11 timepieces from two of the most iconic Patek Philippe collectors from the early 20th century: Henry Graves Jr. and James Ward Packard. Between the two of them, these titans of industry garnered some of the most complicated and significant timepieces of their era.

Henry Graves Jr. was a New York banker and fine arts enthusiast who commissioned many timepieces from Patek Philippe. This included the “Henry Graves Supercomplication” pocket watch, created in 1933 and featuring 24 complications, which Sotheby’s sold in 2014 for a record-breaking $24 million dollars.

The collection of Graves’ pieces in the U.S Historic Room will showcase six significant watches from the Patek Philippe Museum, including his 1928 open-face, keyless winding pocket watch with minute repeater, Grande Sonnerie, Petite Sonnerie, Perpetual Calendar and Moon Phases.

James Ward Packard, meanwhile, was an automobile magnate from Warren, Ohio. He also commissioned a number of complicated watches from the brand, including the first timepiece featuring a celestial sky chart made by Patek Philippe.

His astronomical pocket watch, “The Packard,” will be among the five watches presented from his personal collection. Commissioned in 1927, it features a minute repeater on three gongs, perpetual calendar, age and phases of the moon, time of sunrise and sunset in Warren, Ohio, running equation of time and sky chart for the latitude of Warren.

The back of the case also opens to reveal a rotating celestial map with more than 500 gold stars, showing the night sky as it would be on any given night over Warren.

20170711 JFK Clock

Other highlights of the exhibition will be a historic desk clock commissioned by German retailer Heinz Wipperfeld and manufactured by Patek Philippe for President John F. Kennedy (pictured above). The autonomous quartz desk clock was presented to President Kennedy by the mayor of West Berlin, Willy Brandt, during his visit in June 1963, right after his well-known “Ich bin ein Berliner” speech.

The historic desk clock showcases the time in Moscow, Washington, D.C. and Berlin to “signify the establishment of a direct communication line between Washington D.C. and Moscow,” the brand said.

Also prominently featured in the room will be baseball legend Joe DiMaggio’s Patek Philippe Ref. 130J, created in 1948 and one of Patek Philippe’s most sought-after chronograph references, according to the brand.

It’s believed that the owners of the New York Yankees gave the timepiece to DiMaggio. It recently was purchased at auction by a private collector, who loaned it to Patek Philippe for the event.

“The United States has been an extremely important market for Patek Philippe collectors since the 1850s,” said Larry Pettinelli, President of Patek Philippe U.S. “We hope to showcase some of these extraordinary timepieces, as well as putting into context the evolution of Patek Philippe within the U.S. market.”

The Art of Watches Grand Exhibition New York will run from 10:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. every day (with free admission) through July 23.

On Saturday, July 22, Patek Phillipe will hold a family day at the event, featuring specially created balloons and a coloring station. Children will be able to sit side-by-side with a Patek Philippe watchmaker at the bench to be taught about the brand and mechanical timepieces, among other activities.

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