Patek Philippe boss: Quality is more important than growth

    Just Watched

    Luxury watch brand stays independent

Luxury watch brand stays independent 05:01

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

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.

        Marketplace Europe

      • spc marketplace europe latvia valdis dombrovskis_00021207.jpg

        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.
      • spc marketplace europe malta immigration africa_00002118.jpg

        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.
      • spc marketplace europe malta immigration vox pops_00001419.jpg

        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.
      • spc marketplace europe malta george vella_00032005.jpg

        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.
      • spc marketplace europe 2013 what went wrong_00020426.jpg

        Slow recoveries, bailouts, and youth unemployment. Richard Quest speaks to Europe's top CEOs about the issues of 2013.
      • spc marketplace europe 2013 defining moments bob parker intv_00010826.jpg

        CNN's Richard Quest speaks to economist Bob Parker about defining moments of 2013 and about what to expect in 2014.
      • spc marketplace europe estonia energy_00000923.jpg

        The Baltic nation of Estonia is developing its oil shale energy reserves in a bid to become energy self-sufficient.
      • spc marketplace europe nani beccalli falco_00041005.jpg

        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.
      • spc marketplace europe greece petros christodoulou_00002025.jpg

        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.
      • spc marketplace europe euro jim cloos_00012617.jpg

        One of the masterminds behind the euro says Europe would have suffered a far worse fate if the single currency had never been created.
      • spc marketplace europe maastricht eu_00002401.jpg

        Nina Dos Santos visits the Dutch city where the European treaty carrying the city's name came into force 20 years ago.
      • spc marketplace europe spain working hours_00010525.jpg

        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.