Two Become One: Bromances Behind The Biggest Watch BrandsWritten by Alvin Wong
Because two heads are better than one.
Antoni Patek & Adrien Philippe
This is high-end watchmaking’s own version of a precursory European union. Polish watchmakers Antoni Patek (top) and Franciszek Czapek relocated to Geneva in the 1830s to make pocket watches. Less than five years later, however, they dissolved their partnership. Antoni then hooked up with Adrienne Philippe, an inventive French horologist.
After six years of labouring together, both men registered Patek Philippe & Co. in 1851. The company began building a reputation for high-quality movements, as well as top-notch complications such as perpetual calendars and chronographs. Today, Patek Philippe is owned by the Stern family and is among the most prestigious independent family owned watch companies.
Jacques-David LeCoultre & Edmond Jaeger
The offspring of 16th century French Protestants, who escaped to Le Sentier in Valley de Joux to flee religious persecution, Antoine LeCoultre was an award-winning horologist known for inventing precision tools. In 1833, LeCoultre founded a workshop, LeCoultre & Cie, which was later managed by his grandson, Jacques-David (top).
In 1903, a French watchmaker, Edmond Jaeger, issued a dare to Swiss manufacturers to produce the ultra-thin movements that he had invented. Jacques-David took up the challenge, and this show of one-upmanship birthed a lasting collaboration that saw both men producing movement for prestigious luxury marques. In 1937, they sealed the partnership by renaming the company Jaeger-LeCoultre. The company remains highly prolific and inventive, chalking up over 400 patents and made over 1,200 in-house movements to date.
Jules Louis Audemars & Edward Auguste Piguet
To learn what it means to play to your partner’s strengths, look to Jules Louis Audemars (top) and Edward Auguste Piguet. Born two years apart, both men were friends and schoolmates. Upon graduation in their early 20s, decided to embark on a career in watchmaking.
Audemars was the tech guy in charge of production while Piguet took care of sales. The firm they founded in 1875, Audemars, Piguet et Cie, was at one point during the late 1800s one of the largest watchmaking companies in Switzerland. Having said that, the company’s stature remains elevated today. It is also the only Swiss watch brand still in the hands of the members of its founding families.
Jaques-Bathelemy Vacheron & Francois Constantin
When Jaques-Bathelemy Vacheron (top) was handed the reins of the watch company in 1810 that his grandfather founded five decades earlier, the young business owner found the company at the cusp of growth. The way forward was world domination, and Vacheron found a kindred spirit in Francois Constantin (bottom).
A bright marketer and salesman previously from another company J.F. Bautte, Constantin shared Vacheron’s vision of a global brand. Constantin helped open new markets in France, Italy and most notably in North America. In 1819, he was formally made an associate and the company was named Vacheron Constantin. Interestingly, Constantin was the one who coined the company’s legendary motto "Do better if possible, which is always possible" in a letter he sent to Vacheron the same year.
Alvin promises not to be a douche when talking about watches. He may have scoured the Basel and Geneva watch fairs for the past 15 years, and played an instrumental role to the growth of Singapore's pioneering horological and men's lifestyle publications, but the intrepid scribe seeks to learn something new with each story he writes.