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Discover Patek Philippe at Prestons Wilmslow with John Critchlow

23 March 23

John tells us about his experiences with Patek Philippe, the showroom he manages at Prestons Wilmslow, and shares his knowledge and passion about Patek Philippe and its timepieces.

Tell us a bit about yourself. How long have you worked with Patek Philippe?

I’m the Showroom Manager at Prestons Wilmslow, where I’ve had the privilege of working with Patek Philippe for the last three years. The showroom  is beautiful, I always enjoy introducing new clients to the space and making them feel at home. It’s the perfect place to experience Patek Philippe’s wristwatches.

I am incredibly fortunate to have had the opportunity to receive training from Patek Philippe directly, including a trip to Geneva to visit their museum and their factory. It was a once-in-a-lifetime glimpse behind the scenes, and I’ve been so excited to bring those insights back to our clients in the showroom. It was fascinating to walk through the Patek Philippe Museum, to see first-hand how Patek Philippe’s watches have both evolved and stayed true to tradition since the brand’s foundation in 1839.

 Can you tell us anything about the Geneva factory?

It was amazing to visit the watchmakers at work, and to see all the attention to detail paid to each individual element. They showed me how they polish each individual tooth on the wheels and pinions, which are tiny parts inside the watch. No one but the watchmakers will ever look at them again, but polishing reduces friction and helps the mechanism perform more efficiently, and each element of the watch is designed to be beautiful even if it won’t be seen. I think it can be easy to forget that these complex wristwatches are created entirely in-house by Patek Philippe, but when you see it in person it’s obvious how much passion and attention to detail goes into every single watch.

What’s your favourite Patek Philippe watch?

It’s hard to choose, but one of my favourites has to be the Ref. 5370P Split-Seconds ChronographIt’s a grand complication, which means that it’s very mechanically complicated, going beyond showing hours, minutes and seconds to include numerous other features. In this case, the split-seconds chronograph function allows the timing of two different events at the same time. Alongside this technical complexity, I just love the way this watch looks. The dial is crafted from blue enamel, which is handmade and fired many times to achieve a unique finish on each watch. It features Breguet numerals, which are a personal favourite. The interplay between technology and artistry really speaks to me.

Ref. 5370P Split-Seconds Chronograph

Another favourite is the Ref. 6119R Calatrava ‘Clous de Paris’. This is a simpler watch, executed to perfection in rose gold. I love the hobnail pattern on the bezel, which is created by a hand-machining technique called guilloché. The name ‘Clous de Paris’ refers to this type of decoration, which is traditionally used to provide grip on the watch case. I like its use on this highly contemporary watch, as it creates a link back to Patek Philippe’s heritage, as well as looking stunning.

 Is there a particular function or complication that you love?

I must confess to a love for minute repeaters. They sound simple at first; you press a button to make the watch chime on demand, so you can hear what time it is even if you can’t see the dial. In fact, it’s an extremely complex feat of engineering. The time is struck by tiny hammers inside the watch on gongs tuned to different pitches for the hour, quarter hour and minutes.

The first repeaters were silent, creating vibrations which could be felt in the hand but not heard. Nowadays the gongs are audible, and their tuning involves a huge amount of finesse. It takes a highly trained watchmaker 200-300 hours to create a minute repeater, a process requiring rigorous technical skill. Yet no two repeaters sound exactly the same, and tuning them is more art than science. Thierry Stern, the President of Patek Philippe, personally listens to and approves every minute repeater which leaves the factory, to ensure they sound perfect to his ear.

What makes Patek Philippe special as a brand?

I think it’s their dedication to their creations. They are deeply invested in every piece they make. They craft around 66,000 watches per year, have made a commitment to service every single watch since 1839, and will continue that tradition for centuries to come. If they don’t have the parts, they’ll make the parts. That level of lifelong service sets them apart.

 What’s something that surprises people about Patek Philippe?

Our clients at the showroom often have the impression that Patek Philippe only makes dress watches, but in truth you can find a watch for any occasion within their range. Their signature collection, the Calatrava, bridges the gap between formal dress watches and more casual or sporty watches. The Ref. 7200R-001 is a beautiful feminine design, simple enough to suit any outfit but with that classic Patek Philippe elegance. For a more contemporary take, the Ref. 5226G-001 features a textured dial inspired by vintage camera cases. If you’re looking for a nice cross between formality and a sporty feel I would recommend the Ref. 5905, which is wonderfully understated without compromising on function or aesthetic. It comes in stainless steel with a green sunburst dial or rose gold with a brown sunburst dial.

Ref. 5905 Complications

The team at Prestons Wilmslow is always happy to help with questions of styling. We want to make sure our clients choose the best possible watch for their lifestyle and preferences. For example, it can be difficult to judge how a watch will wear when you’ve only seen it on the original strap, so I always show our clients the whole range of strap options available. I enjoy helping them choose a colour and material to suit their personal style, and it can make a big difference to how wearable the watch feels to them.

 Is there a watch you’d recommend for less formal wear?

The Patek Philippe Annual Calendar Ref. 5205G would be my pick for a day-to-day watch. The annual calendar is a signature complication for Patek Philippe, first introduced in 1996. Even if you wear it every day, you only have to adjust the date once at the end of February. This is a beautiful example of the complication, with the moon phase displayed in a sub-dial and the day, date and month in an arc of apertures at the top of the dial. The white gold case is sleek and contemporary, easily styled with any outfit.

Ref. 5205G Annual Calendar

Do you have any advice for someone who wants to learn more about the Patek Philippe collection?

Part of the joy of picking out your first watch is learning about the collection as a whole. I’d recommend keeping an open mind, as the watch you initially fall in love with may not be the best fit once you see it in person. It’s always best to have a selection of models you’re interested in exploring.

With that in mind, I’d encourage new clients to visit us in store before making any decisions. The team and I are here to guide you through the Patek Philippe collection, and our showrooms are the perfect environment in which to experience these watches at their best.

It’s one of the greatest pleasures of my job, to guide our clients and friends through the process, and to celebrate with them. If you would like to discover more about the Patek Philippe collection then please contact us to book an appointment.

Our Showrooms

Over the years, generations of families have become customers of Prestons, and many have gone on to become friends. Today, our teams look forward to welcoming you to our showrooms in Wilmslow, Guildford, Norwich and Leeds.

Prestons Guildford


Our Guildford showroom, which is now located on the opposite side of the high street, is designed to reflect the architectural merit of the Edwardian building it now occupies. The store features newly extended spaces dedicated to the fine watch houses it showcases, alongside a comfortable lounge to allow our clients to explore our bridal and fine jewellery collections. Explore This Showroom

Prestons Wilmslow


Located in the heart of Wilmslow, this showroom features a selection of spaces dedicated to the fine watch houses it showcases. Of course, the bridal collections Prestons have always been famous for remain a prominent feature of the store and surround the famous Aquarium Bar which sits at its centre. Explore This Showroom

Rolex by Prestons, Leeds


This showroom, located in Victoria Gate, features extensive Rolex showcases alongside a discrete VIP lounge. Every element of the interior design radiates the values of the Rolex crown: excellence, precision and attention to detail from louvre walls in walnut, to the careful calibration of colours and patterns within the fittings and furnishings. Explore This Showroom

Prestons Norwich


Located on the historic Norwich high street, Prestons Norwich has been expanded and redesigned to reflect the character of the building it has occupied for over 150 years. The showroom features collections by Patek Philippe, Rolex and TUDOR alongside our fine jewellery collections. Explore This Showroom
Guildford showroom