In 1839, Count Antoine Norbert de Patek and fellow countryman Francois Czapek founded the watchmaking firm Patek, Czapek & Co. Although Patek, Czapek & Co.'s beginnings were not grand - they began with fewer than a dozen employees - the firm would eventually become one of the world's most respected watchmakers, Patek Philippe & Co. The company introduced the first minute-repeating pocket watch in 1845. In 1851 Queen Victoria and Prince Albert purchased No. 4536 at the Grand Exhibition, setting the precedent for clients who would later include Czar Nicolas II, Charlotte Bronte and Albert Einstein. In 1867, Patek Philippe & Co. showed complicated timepieces at the World Horology Exhibit in Paris, and at the request of Countess Kocewicz, they created the first Swiss wristwatch on record in 1868.
During the late 19th-century, Patek Philippe & Co. introduced a number of patents, for everything from "precision timer" regulator adjusters to mechanisms for perpetual calendars, double chronographs and extra-thin calibers. By 1925 Patek had created the first wristwatch with a perpetual calendar, and they introduced the famous Calatrava watch in 1939, No. 198340, Ref. 96. The World Time Chronograph was introduced in 1940 (No. 8652442, Ref. 1415-1) and Patek's Gyromax balance was patented at the end of the decade. The Split-Second Chronograph (No. 868331 Ref. 2571) debuted in 1955, and the water-resistant Nautilus was created in 1974. In 1989, Patek Philippe & Co. unveiled the most complicated mechanical wristwatch to date, the Caliber 89, which was subsequently surpassed by the Star Caliber 2000. In all, Patek Philippe & Co. has received over 70 patents since Count Patek and Czapek opened their doors on the Quai des Bergues.
Information compiled from the Patek Philippe Museums' website, Patek Philippe by H. Vogel, and Patek Philippe Geneve by Gisbert Brunner.