The Art of Watches Grand Exhibition by Patek Philippe

- A free, temporary museum has popped up in Midtown Manhattan. Cipriani on East 42nd Street has been transformed into a museum of watches.

The Art of Watches Grand Exhibition by Patek Philippe, a once-in-a-decade experience, is open to the public.

Thierry Stern, president of Patek Philippe, said the idea was to bring the atmosphere of Geneva, Switzerland, to New York, so they recreated the Swiss museum in Manhattan.

The replica of the Napoleon Room even has a view of Lake Geneva and a limited series of watches created exclusively for customers in the United States.

Stern said the original Napoleon Room was where Patek Philippe first started selling watches in the 1850s.

The Museum Room has over 100 pieces, some of them hundreds of years old. One of the first watches ever made, from the 1500s, is on display. Stern said it is still in perfect condition after all those years.

The original Caliber 89, the most complicated watch ever made is on display, left the Geneva museum for the first time.

The first American timepiece ever made, from the 1700s, is also on display.

The American Room has a clock the Mayor of Berlin gave to President John F. Kennedy in 1963. It is right next to a watch that belonged to Joe DiMaggio.

Stern said people are very surprised when they visit the Grand Exhibition. Visitors can't believe that this little Swiss watch company has made so many beautiful pieces for so many famous people.

That little Swiss watch company started in 1839, has been owned by the Stern family since the 1930s, and continues an incredible tradition of craftsmanship today.

From enameling to engraving and marquetry with wood to the watchmakers who create the complications and movements, Stern said you can do everything you can dream about – it is just a matter of time.

At the Grand Exhibition, you can see the watches and their movements up close, and even use virtual reality to get inside a movement.

If you can't make it to the Grand Exhibition in person, this month's Robb Report magazine features two extraordinary Patek Philippe pieces belonging to Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth II.

David Arnold, managing director of Robb Report, said the exhibit lays out so much history that if you're in New York you should attend. And if you're not in New York you should fly in because it really is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, he said.

The Grand Exhibition is free and open to the public from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily through July 23, 2017, at Cipriani, 100 East 42nd Street.

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