While Patek Philippe are kept most popularly in the mind today through a handful of steel sports watches and the lyrics of chart-topping songs, the company has a history of remarkable innovation that is sometimes overlooked. In the middle of last century — 1950 to be precise — the Genevan firm released a solar-powered table clock, an invention that predated their first-ever automatic wristwatch movement by several years. It is surprising that Patek Philippe were actively investing in light-powered technology so long ago, as even today most watch companies choose not to work with solar power in favour of battery or mechanically powered timekeepers. Despite this, the Patek Philippe Solar Clock is an excellent example of how forward thinking the brand has been over the course of their history.
This innovative approach to powering a clock was looked at closely by Walt Odets in a post he wrote on what was the effective birthplace of the watch internet way back in 2002. Walt wasn’t known for his surface interactions with technical topics, so this is a deep dive into one of the more interesting pages of the history of Patek Philippe. You can read his full analysis right here.