Skip to main content
Part of complete coverage on

Patek Philippe boss: Quality is more important than growth

By CNN wire staff
updated 10:03 AM EDT, Fri May 17, 2013
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Patek Phillippe -- founded in 1839 and bought by the Stern family in 1832 -- produces around 50,000 watches a year.
  • A Patek Philippe time piece commands a high price and usually increases in value with age
  • Stern told CNN the Swiss company is not subject to the pressure of shareholders demanding short-term results

(CNN) -- The tick of a clock may be his business but Thierry Stern, boss of Patek Philippe, is happy to take his time ensuring the luxury watchmaker sticks to its traditional values.

Stern told CNN the Swiss company is not subject to shareholders demanding short-term results, and could therefore make decisions to benefit the company and its existing clients without facing time pressures.

Watch more: Luxury goods snub slowdown

"It really allows me to do whatever I believe is right," Stern told CNN's Nina dos Santos.

Patek Phillippe -- founded in 1839 by two Polish immigrants and bought by the Stern family in 1832 -- produces around 50,000 watches a year.

Read more: Is Europe facing slow decay?

Unlike its competitors, Stern said the independent watch maker has resisted the temptation to open up "massively" in China because he believed it would damage the company's integrity.

Stern said: "If I try to get the watches from Europe to China for example, I would put myself in trouble... I would lose my client and my credibility."

Read more: UK tax no small beer for London brewer

Despite building the Patek Philippe brand in the Far East, tradition and customer loyalty are of paramount importance to the success of the Geneva-based company. Stern said: "You can sell to Chinese, I don't mind, but please keep the right pieces for the people coming every year."

And Stern said reliability and a local clientele is part of the reason Patek Philippe has not fallen victim to the problems plaguing the single currency euro area.

Read more: GE Europe chief eyes investment in Germany

Stern said: "Today you need to evolve otherwise you die and the watchmakers, they have to evolve."

A Patek Philippe time piece commands a high price and usually increases in value with age, making the luxurious watches an alternative investment to other more volatile assets such as stocks or bonds.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
Marketplace Europe
updated 11:31 AM EST, Thu January 16, 2014
Marketplace Europe visits Latvia to see how the Baltic country has made its transition to the Euro from the Lat.
updated 11:30 AM EST, Thu January 16, 2014
CNN's Nina Dos Santos visits Latvia to speak to the country's outgoing Prime Minister and the prospects for the eurozone's 18th member.
updated 11:40 AM EST, Thu January 2, 2014
Malta is the gateway to Europe and on the frontline of the immigration flows. Isa Soares reports from a detention center on the Mediterranean island.
updated 11:41 AM EST, Thu January 2, 2014
CNN's Isa Soares speaks with people on the streets of Valletta who say their country can't cope with more migrants from Africa and the Middle East.
updated 5:06 AM EST, Thu January 9, 2014
Malta cannot afford to continue supporting migrants from war-torn countries in its over-crowded detention camps, the country's foreign minister has told CNN.
updated 4:23 PM EST, Thu December 26, 2013
Slow recoveries, bailouts, and youth unemployment. Richard Quest speaks to Europe's top CEOs about the issues of 2013.
updated 4:14 PM EST, Thu December 26, 2013
CNN's Richard Quest speaks to economist Bob Parker about defining moments of 2013 and about what to expect in 2014.
updated 1:15 PM EST, Thu December 5, 2013
Estonia is setting the pace for other European nations with a thriving economy and its tech industry, according to the Baltic nation's leader.
updated 2:03 PM EST, Thu December 5, 2013
The Baltic nation of Estonia is developing its oil shale energy reserves in a bid to become energy self-sufficient.
updated 4:25 AM EST, Fri November 29, 2013
Europe must stop being nationalistic if it wants to help a lost generation of workers, the regional boss of U.S. conglomerate General Electric says.
updated 12:06 PM EST, Thu November 14, 2013
Peer at the windows and you'll spot big colorful chairs, plastic plants and a huge bed, but this is no department store.
updated 5:06 AM EST, Tue November 19, 2013
There once was a time, many years ago, when the sounds of bagpipes struck fear into the stomachs of Englishmen.
updated 6:16 AM EST, Mon November 11, 2013
Greece is on the way to economic recovery as investor faith returns to the recession-ridden eurozone nation, an executive at Greece's largest bank has told CNN.
updated 7:00 AM EST, Fri November 8, 2013
Could Greece's famous spice help the country's farmers through a four-year long economic crisis.
updated 9:07 AM EDT, Fri November 1, 2013
One of the masterminds behind the euro says Europe would have suffered a far worse fate if the single currency had never been created.
updated 1:41 PM EDT, Thu October 31, 2013
Nina Dos Santos visits the Dutch city where the European treaty carrying the city's name came into force 20 years ago.
updated 11:10 AM EDT, Fri October 25, 2013
As Spain continues its drive to slash budgets and cut spending, one of the nation's favorite pastimes is under threat as ministers look for ways to boost productivity.
updated 12:17 PM EDT, Thu October 24, 2013
The high commissioner of Brand Spain talks about getting the country back on its fee and attracting business.
ADVERTISEMENT