Berna & Patek Philippe
The relationship between Patek Philippe and their distributors should be – and indeed is – a necessarily special one. In just over half a century, the history of the relationship between Berna and Patek Philippe has already shown that it is special but there is a lot more to it than the time factor alone.
Even though Andorra and Switzerland are two different countries with very distinct environments, the histories of these famous firms show that they have many astonishing points in common. Both companies have a long history going back more than 150 years. Only six years separate the dates of their foundation but there is one particular coincidence in that insignificant time difference that we might even consider to be premonitory.
In 1839, Antoine Norbert de Patek and François Czapek founded a company under the name of Patek, Czapek & Cie. In 1844, Adrien Philippe replaced Czapek in the company and the name changed to Patek & Cie. In 1845, the company name changed definitively to Patek Philippe & Cie, the legendary name by which the Geneva firm has been known since then. In that very same year of 1845, the Solans family embarked on its professional adventure in the world of watchmaking and clocks, adjusting and repairing the large mechanical timepieces of the churches, town halls and railway stations of Andorra.
In 1960, Antoni Pons Solé and Pepita Solans held conversations with Patek Philippe and these talks led to them becoming exclusive distributors of the brand for the Andorran market. Since then, there have been several generations of the Stern family at the head of Patek Philippe, and the same has happened with the various generations of the Solans-Pons family, which has been at the forefront of the Andorran market in fine watchmaking.
Throughout all this time, the company, the economy, culture and technology have continued to evolve. Patek Philippe has done the same in Andorra under the guidance of Pons1845. What was once a personalised shop window for Patek Philippe has become an impressive and exclusive 50-square-metre space devoted to the legendary Genevan firm. This evolution has continued and the latest step was taken in February 2020 when the Patek Philippe space at Hvngari was expanded to 60 square metres and moved to a brand-new building that had been acquired by the Andorran firm.
These dates, details and figures are significant in terms of objectively reflecting the relationship between these two prestigious companies. But the same can also be said about the personal relationships, whether it be between the two families or with the clients of Patek Philippe watches. This special empathy between Patek Philippe distributors and their customers is reproduced throughout the length and breadth of the globe, and it has provided us with some curious anecdotes that reflect what the company’s watches represent, and why this goes far beyond the value of a mere, albeit precious, object.
David Pons and Antoni Pons, a watchmaker and a gemmologist respectively, the latest generation of the Solans-Pons family to head Pons1845, remember many of these very special and significant facts that have always surrounded Patek Philippe watches. Two such examples suffice to give us an understanding of the significance and core values of Genevan manufacturing.
One concerns a customer who wished to acquire two Patek Philippe Rattrapante chronographs as gifts for each of his two children. As a passionate and knowledgeable Patek Philippe enthusiast, he knew how difficult it would be to acquire these watches and he was fully aware of the fact that the waiting list was a very long one. However, his unwavering aim was to be able to give these chronographs to his children before they turned 18. He managed to achieve this even though he had to wait no less than 8 years to do so.
This special focus on family values that lies at the heart of Patek Philippe was also evident in the case of two brothers – Patek Philippe enthusiasts and loyal Pons1845 customers – who decided to purchase two identical Celestial watches, one of the largest Grand Complications models that have helped to forge the legend of the Genevan firm.
Family, a hundred-year-old history, succeeding generations, a passion for watchmaking … these are factors and values shared by Berna and Patek Philippe.
It would seem that the year of 1845 was premonitory in terms of the relationship eventually bearing its fruit… time has shown this to be the case.