Patek Philippe has always loved London, but in terms of importance to the great manufacturer, the US market might be unrivalled. Size is, of course, a major part of it, but Patek is as secretive as Francis Urquhart. Questions about percentage of sales by territory would undoubtedly elicit an “I couldn’t possibly comment” from a PP spokesperson, but I have no doubt about the scale of the brand’s American component. It is a major, if not THE major consumer of Patek’s watches.
In understanding its pro-USA leaning (not that PP doesn’t show equal respect for all of its markets), one might look at the training regimes undergone by its president, Thierry Stern, and his predecessor and now chairman, his father Philippe. The latter joined the company in his mid-20s, in 1964, and was dispatched immediately to New York to learn the trade. Alongside another newcomer, Hank Edelman, Philippe stared out learning how to fit straps. Two years later, he returned to Switzerland, and would serve as the company president from 1993, when his father, Henri, retired.
In a Hollywood-like biopic manner, Thierry is said to have started out in the mailroom in the company’s New York offices, like his father in the Henri Stern Watch Agency (also known as Patek Philippe USA). There he spent two years, learning about the watch business from the ground up. His mentor would undoubtedly have been Edelman, now a legend in the watch industry and who is, for all intents and purposes, the “Mr Patek” of the USA. In 2009, Thierry became president upon Philippe’s semi-retirement.