A tour of 600 years of watchmaking history

Road Trip 2011: Visitors to the Patek Philippe Museum in Geneva can wander among dozens and dozens of the world's most beautiful watches. But the collection also features an archive of beautiful timepieces dating back to the 16th century.

The Patek Philippe Museum in Geneva features, among other things, six centuries of the most beautiful watches in the world.

GENEVA, Switzerland--If you're the kind of person who understands that watches can be art, you would be wise to make your way to this city of the world in order to check out what has to be one of the best collections of historical timepieces on the planet.

Housed at the Patek Philippe Museum, hundreds of watches spanning nearly 600 years greet visitors to this stately early-20th century mansion. While much of the museum is dedicated to famous watchmaker Patek Philippe's own works, it is the historical archives that truly reward those who take the time to visit.

I got a chance to explore the collection as part of Road Trip 2011 last month, and after a whirlwind tour of dozens of pieces dating to the early 1500s, I now have little doubt that artistic workmanship has been alive and well in watches for at least that long.

While Switzerland is almost certainly the most famous watchmaking country in the world, the archives feature examples from countries throughout Europe, and demonstrate the desire that other countries have long had for the best such pieces in the world.

From perfume-spouting gun-shaped watches to the world's most complicated watch, from timepieces in the shape of butterflies to those that have traveled to outer space, the museum offers visitors a rich vision of the world of horology. Please check out my complete photo gallery for a true glimpse at what the collection includes.

 

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