CHIEF EXPERT MR. PHILIP PONIZ
Born in Poland, the birthplace of Patek Philippe, Mr. Philip Poniz developed an interest in horology in his teenage years, when he began to collect Patek watches. He visited Glashütte Manufactory before it was revived post-war by the Lange family, and learned their production methods, not knowing he would later employ one of its workers in his US company.
Mr. Philip Poniz made his first movement at age seventeen, having hand-crafted all of its parts by himself. Eventually, Mr. Philip Poniz would establish a reputation that he could restore any watch. Since 1965, Mr. Philip Poniz has restored thousands of watches, including of some of the most complicated, important, and expensive ever made. He has made a few watches from scratch, and dozens of watch cases.
Mr. Philip Poniz’s research, which began in 1971, has yielded many significant discoveries. Mr. Philip Poniz proved the existence of John Rich, an enigmatic figure whose signature is found on some of the most complicated musical automatons from the end of the eighteenth century (after Cox and Jaquet-Droz), and whose existence has been questioned on the basis that it was only a trade name or continuation of one of the Cox or Jaquet-Droz companies.
He has also uncovered numerous horological fakes, and proved that some watches believed to be fakes were only restorations.
From 1999 to 2002, Mr. Philip Poniz studied the early history of Patek Philippe. Initially, Mr. Philip Poniz had planned to do the research jointly with Arnaud Tellier, who had access to the company’s records, but these records had mysteriously disappeared since the 1970s.
Thus, Mr. Philip Poniz set to work by himself. Friends introduced Mr. Philip Poniz to descendants of Antoine Patek and gained access to the company’s archives. While searching through Swiss, Polish, and French museums and libraries, Mr. Philip Poniz found a trove of unknown correspondence. This discovery allowed him to complete his study and publish “Patek Philippe: The Forgotten Beginnings.” This paper has the longest bibliographical reference list of all known publications about Patek Philippe, and it is available online here: http://www.docstoc.com/docs/17815158/Patek-Philippe-The-Forgotten-Beginnings (unfortunately, this copy is missing the bibliography).
A few years after The Forgotten Beginnings was published, the Patek Philippe Museum’s publication “Timepieces for Royalty” heavily drew from Mr. Philip Poniz’s research for its revised company history.
In 2000, Mr. Philip Poniz discovered the mother company of Patek et Czapek. It turned out that Czapek was in a partnership with Moreau under the name Czapek et Moreau, a partnership which on May 1, 1839, transformed into Patek et Czapek, with Moreau as a silent partner. Slightly later, Mr. Philip Poniz discovered the identity of Moreau, an enigmatic figure who remains mysterious even to the Patek Philippe Company. This is the subject of a forthcoming publication.
In 2002, Mr. Philip Poniz discovered the missing plates of the Geneva goldsmiths. Chapuis and Babel had written that the plates had been destroyed by Napoleon’s military forces. This was correct, but it seems Chapuis and Babel did not know there were two copies. The second set of plates had apparently been taken out of the assay office and hidden for two centuries! This led Mr. Philip Poniz to compile a list of all Swiss casemakers, those of Geneva in particular. Eventually, the list expanded to include all kinds of known and unknown Swiss horological and goldsmiths’ marks, trademarks, initials, and other curiosities. The list currently boasts approximately 30,000 entries. Mr. Philip Poniz also owns a company that does restorations for special collectors and special watches.
Most recently, Mr. Philip Poniz discovered the first French jeweled watch, and the first world deck watch; he proved that the so called “Chinese watches” were also exported to Russia; and he disproved the widespread notion that Breguet’s watches were always made differently.