In 1842 Adrien Philippe invented a mechanism for watches which allowed them to be wound and set by means of crown rather than a key. His patented invention earned him a Gold Medal at the French Industrial Exposition of 1844 (World's Fair). At the Exhibition Adrien Philippe first met Antoni Patek and a year later became head watchmaker at Patek & Co. in Geneva under an agreement that entitled him to one-third of all company profits.
Adrien Philippe proved to be very capable at his craft and a product innovator whose value to the firm was such that by 1851 he was made a full partner and the firm began operating as Patek Philippe & Co. In 1863 he published a book in Geneva and Paris on the workings of pocket watches titled Les montres sans clef.
His partner Antoni Patek died in 1877 and in 1891 the 76-year-old Adrien Philippe handed over the day-to-day management of the business to his son Joseph Emile Philippe and Francois Antoine Conty.
Jean Adrien Philippe died in 1894 and was buried in St-Georges Cemetery in Geneva.