Golden Jubilee: Cortina Watch Celebrates 50 Years Excellence
For the 50th anniversary of Cortina Watch, we take a look at the partnerships between the retailer and family-owned brands such as Patek Philippe and Chopard.
Our relationship with time is deeply personal — visceral even. Of course, the very cells in our bodies respond to the passage of time and, at the level of our conscious minds, time provides meaning to our lives. Sometimes, meaning can enter the picture in the form of our relationships with other people — this is where very special watches enter into it. This year happens to be the 50th anniversary of Cortina Watch, but it will actually be 66 years since the respective families behind Patek Philippe and the retailer started on their journey together. To mark this occasion, Patek Philippe has created a special watch, Ref. 5057G-010 along with a unique clock, Ref. 20145M-001 “Singapore Skyline”. Of course, this is all about history, so Ref. 5057 might seem familiar.
Patek Philippe Honorary President Philippe Stern proposed a special watch to Cortina Watch founder Anthony Lim for the retailer’s 25th anniversary, and it was Ref. 5057. We have reported on this watch and how it came about, and the relationship between the Stern and Lim families in an extensive story in 2019. Only 100 pieces of the Patek Philippe Cortina Jubilee 5057R 18K Rose Gold Limited Edition Automatic were made, and this reference boasted a moon phase display, date and power reserve indication alongside a small seconds subdial. Uniquely, it is distinguished as a watch that began as a special creation, but remained in the Patek Philippe offering, in one way or another since its debut 25 years ago.
Introducing Patek Philippe Ref. 5057G-010
A new Patek Philippe Ref. 5057G-010 in white gold has been made specially for the Golden Jubilee celebrations. It features the same triple row guilloched “Clous de Paris” hobnail bezel as the first model created for Cortina Watch back in 1997, and is the same size, at 36mm. This time, the watch features a charcoal grey sunburst dial with a blackgradient rim, white transfer-printed Roman numerals and white gold, pear-shaped hands.
Powered by the Calibre 240 PS IRM C LU, the watch has indications for the date, moon phases and power reserve on two subdials. There is also a small seconds display between the four and five o’clock position. This is an ultra-thin, automatic movement with 48 hours (maximum) of power reserve. Interestingly, this calibre is quite rare, being used in only one other reference that we know of, the Nautilus Ref. 5712, which the story on WatchesbySJX supports. The transparent sapphire caseback features the commemorative inscription “Cortina Watch 50th Anniversary Since 1972”. The watch is a limited edition of just 100 pieces.
The size of the watch and the hobnail bezel are highly distinctive characteristics, with Calibre 240 PS arguably benefitting from the more conservative proportions. Of course, the movement features all the signature technical upgrades that mark all current production Patek Philippe, even if the case and dial are throwbacks. This includes the Gyromax balance and the Spiromax hairspring, and quite possibly ceramic ball bearings in the winding system. This concern for how the heart of the watch performs also speaks to Patek Philippe’s relationship with a key partner such as Cortina Watch, which was the brand’s first authorised Singapore retailer all the way back in 1978.
This was a difficult time for Patek Philippe as it weathered the Quartz Crisis, and a key moment for the fledgling Cortina Watch, which opened its first store just six years earlier at Colombo Court. Both family-owned businesses doubled down on mechanical watches, staking their futures on quality rather than the ephemeral performance of quantity. If nothing else, Cortina Watch and Patek Philippe proved in the 1970s and 80s that patient and steadfast commitment to the values of fine watchmaking would pay off handsomely. Speaking of which, the values of traditional watchmaking are best represented in super-sized form…
Patek Philippe’s unique dome table clock comes in Grand Feu cloisonné enamel for the 50th anniversary celebration. This Ref. 20145M-001 “Singapore Skyline” showcases Singapore’s picturesque urban garden environment, from the Merlion to the Central Business District, Gardens by the Bay, the Esplanade, and Marina Bay Sands, where the second Patek Philippe boutique was opened in Singapore by Cortina Watch.
To bring to life the depictions of the city skyline and its recognizable landmarks, Patek Philippe shaped by hand a total of 9.2m of gold wire with a cross section of just 0.2mm x 0.6mm. A palette of 50 enamel colours was used and each enamelled plate required 10 to 14 firings at temperatures between 890º and 910º Celsius. Fifty gold stars and fireworks, made from gold and silver dust, light up the skyline. Apart from the other intricate details and embellishments, also present is the subtle engraving of “Cortina Watch — 50th Anniversary — Since 1972”. The clock is powered by the Calibre 17’’’ PEND mechanical movement, which is wound up by an electric motor.
Celebrating the strong partnership that spans five decades, Cortina Watch and Patek Philippe will co-host an exhibition to present the limited edition Ref. 5057G-010 and Ref. 20145M-001 “Singapore Skyline” dome table clock, together with the Ref. 5057R-001 25th anniversary model. Also included is Cortina Watch’s collection of several other unique Patek Philippe creations, such as Ref. 1677M “Esplanade”, created for Singapore’s Golden Jubilee in 2015; Ref. 20094M-001 “Bay of Singapore”, created for the Patek Philippe Watch Art Grand Exhibition, hosted in Singapore in 2019; Ref. 20040M-001 “Twilight Taipei”, created to commemorate the first Patek Philippe boutique established in the city’s most famous skyscraper.
To view these precious timepieces along with the other aforementioned exhibits, one can visit the travelling exhibition which shall be held at the Patek Philippe boutiques across the region. The tour begins at ION Orchard and Marina Bay Sands and subsequently moves to Taiwan, Thailand and Malaysia before heading back to Singapore towards the end of 2022.
You can come to grips with this story in person, perhaps at the Patek Philippe boutique managed by Cortina Watch at ION Orchard. That store opened in 2009, and expanded to become the largest Patek Philippe boutique in Southeast Asia in 2016, at 265.48 square metres. This happened during a minor downturn in the fortunes of watch brands overall, but both Patek Philippe and Cortina Watch remained bullish. We will be turning our sights to key Patek Philippe boutiques in the region in a future article, mainly because Asia’s largest such store is also managed by Cortina Watch, in Taipei, Taiwan.
“Patek Philippe and Cortina Watch share an intertwined relationship in Asia, from the establishment of the Patek Philippe boutiques across Southeast and East Asia, to our shared passion for fine watchmaking and craftsmanship. Not only have I personally experienced this through the generous friendship of Mr. Thierry Stern and Mr. Philippe Stern, so have many of our clients who have had the privilege of visiting the manufacture. We have retained the aesthetic codes of the 25th anniversary Calatrava, launched in 1997, for the 50th anniversary limited edition. This is in homage to the past and present leaders of both companies who have nurtured our longstanding partnership. I hope that it will continue to strengthen over the next 50 years, and with the next generations after us.” — Jeremy Lim, CEO of Cortina Watch.
“The friendship between my grandfather, father and Mr. Anthony Lim started over 66 years ago and it still stands strong today, much like the relationship between Patek Philippe & Cortina Watch. This is a unique and precious relationship that truly transcends generations, and I am proud to be part of this very special celebration and to present the Ref. 20145M-001 “Singapore Skyline” Dome Table Clock to Mr. Anthony Lim on behalf of my father. We look forward to another 50 years of great partnership and for our next generations to keep this friendship going.” — Thierry Stern, President of Patek Philippe.
Of course, Cortina Watch has built a number of meaningful partnerships over the course of its history. Another watchmaking family that has a special relationship with Cortina Watch is the Scheufeles of Chopard. Like Cortina Watch, the watchmaker and jeweller is a family affair, and a recent reminder of this was the Happy Sport — Tale of an Icon exhibition. Organised by Cortina Watch and Chopard, this public showcase held at Paragon displayed the links between the two organisations and families, which goes back to 1992. That year will ring some bells for those familiar with the Chopard Happy Sport, which debuted in 1993.
The exhibition served as a reminder of the 30 years of history between Chopard and Cortina Watch, as well as 29 years of the Happy Sport model. We were struck by the inclusion of the original inspiration for the watch, the Happy Diamonds watch of 1976 (a creation of in-house designer Ronald Kurowski, and frequently misattributed to Gerald Genta), which was brought in from Geneva. Of course, Chopard Co-President Caroline Scheufele riffed off this to come up with her own design, the 1993 Happy Sport watch; arguably the Happy Sport design story eclipses that of the Happy Diamonds, perhaps because the latter is no longer a square model.
As seen here, the final part of the exhibition is a message to Cortina Watch from Caroline’s brother and Chopard Co-President Karl-Friedrich Scheufele and his wife. This is also where two special editions for the 50th anniversary come into the picture, the Happy Hearts Cortina 50th Anniversary and the Happy Moon Cortina 50th Anniversary. The Happy Hearts watch is an automatic 36mm limited edition in steel of 50 pieces, bearing all the codes of the Happy Sport.
Nett proceeds from sales of this limited edition will benefit the Singapore Heart Foundation (SHF). The Happy Moon watch, on the other hand, comes in three versions, although all are modelled on the Happy Sport and are 36mm. Each version has its own special dials — blue aventurine, green aventurine and red mother-of-pearl — and are limited to five pieces each. These are cased in yellow, white and rose gold. All feature moon phase indicators and are powered by in-house movements.
“It has been an absolute pleasure to work with Chopard and the Scheufele family through the years. As family-owned businesses, we share many common values and it is especially meaningful for us to be able to celebrate Cortina Watch’s 50th Anniversary not only through the unveiling of exquisite timepieces, but more importantly, by sharing the joy of giving by giving back to society together with our longstanding business partner. We hope that this vibrant exhibition and our milestone collaboration with Chopard will bring about precious memories to be cherished in years to come,” said Jeremy Lim.
“We sincerely congratulate you all, the family and of course all the members of your staff on this important occasion because 50 years is quite something. It shows resilience, it shows your creativity, it shows everything you have built with passion over these years. And we are very happy that we have been working with you for 30 years, in fact, we went back to our records and we started in 1992. And we are very happy to commemorate this happy occasion with you with some special moments,” said Karl-Friedrich Scheufele.
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