A Peek Inside Patek Philippe


    Together with Rolex, Audemars Piguet and Richard Mille, Patek Philippe is one of the “Big Four” watchmakers, the four independent brands that generate around half the profits of the Swiss watchmaking industry.

    Founded in 1839 and owned by the Stern family since 1932, Patek Philippe employs around 3,000 people worldwide, including 2,050 at its Geneva headquarters. It is run today by Thierry Stern, who joined the family business in 1990 and took over as its president in 2009. 

    Unlike the directors of Rolex, a watchmaking company that has based its success on the cult of secrecy, Stern regularly speaks out in the Swiss and international press. SWI swissinfo.ch met him at the recent Watches and Wonders trade fair in Geneva. 

    We have a complete manufacturing facility and 95% to 98% of our added value is produced in-house. Of course, we purchase screws and straps from external suppliers and, for safety reasons, we duplicate certain production lines – dials, for example – with outside companies. 

    But I don’t see the point in outsourcing more, because the best way to control quality from A to Z is to do everything in-house, even if it is more expensive. We go so far in terms of craftsmanship, development and research that we really can’t contract these tasks out.

    Since our founding in 1839, we have consistently produced watches and maintained an unchanged strategy: making Swiss watches entirely in-house. Our customers and retailers, who have known us for several generations, bear witness to this constancy. 

    Ukrainians in Switzerland


    Two years ago, the Swiss government activated protection status S for Ukrainian refugees – a first in the Alpine country. Integration into the labour market, however, remains a problem.

    [A] round 66,000 Ukrainians are holders of a status S permit. But the government sees the need to take action: only 20% of working-age Ukrainian refugees currently have a job.

    This is despite the fact that several sectors are desperately looking for labour amid a shortage of skilled workers. Ukrainian refugees often have a high level of education. In November 2023, the Federal Council announced that it wants to double the rate of employment among Ukrainian refugees to 40%.