Yes, it is Patek Philippe’s 175th anniversary, and yes, we’ve all been waiting for the commemorative watches to be unveiled. Well, today, October 13th is the day that makes Patek 175 yrs old. So wait no more. There are several new watches I’ll get to in due course, but for now let’s start with this, the flagship of the 175th anniversary collection: the Patek Philippe Grandmaster Chime Ref. 5175. This is a 1,366-part grand complication including a grand and petite sonnerie, perpetual calendar and more — 20 complications in all. Oh, and thanks to its swiveling, ornately engraved case, the watch is fully reversible — you can wear either side up. 7 pieces will be made, and 6 of them will be sold — at a price of 2.5 million Swiss Francs apiece. Believe it. The Grandmaster Chime is a watch unlike any in existence.
The Patek Philippe Grandmaster Chime 175th Anniversary Watch, presented by Philippe and Thierry Stern
The Patek Philippe Grandmaster Chime Ref. 5175
Limited edition 7 pieces (6 for sale)
Crown position indicator (winding/alarm setting/handsetting). Solid gold dials, silvery opaline. Time side with manually guilloched center and applied gold Roman numerals. Alligator strap with square scales, hand-stitched, dark brown, hand-patinated. Solid gold fold-over clasp, fully hand-engraved. Reversible case, fully hand-engraved, protected against moisture and dust ingress, not water resistant. Rose gold. Diameter: 47.4 mm. Height: 16.1 mm.
This grand complication is a lot of watch — mechanically, and aesthetically. I’ll break down each of the principal complications below. But for starters, how about that 47mm x 16.1mm solid rose gold case with lavish, hand-engraved laurel wreath motif?
Both case and fold-over clasp are meticulously hand-engraved with laurel leaves that conjure ancient victory wreaths. The two solid gold dials, as you will various aspects of below, are equally impressive. The front dial (as far as normal watches go, with crown on the right) is dedicated to the chiming functions. The back dial puts on display the calendar functions. The design of this classically configured calendar side was influenced by the wishes of honorary president Philippe Stern.
The Swivel Case
An inspired patented mechanism (which alone took three years to perfect) enables the watch to be smoothly reversed in an instant, locking securely into place.
PRINCIPAL COMPLICATONS OF THE GRANDMASTER CHIME
A) Grande sonnerie
This is Patek Philippe’s first combination grande and petite sonnerie wristwatch. The grand sonnerie is often stated as the most difficult complication in all of watchmaking. The grand sonnerie automatically chimes the hours and quarters on three gongs. At the top of each hour, the grande sonnerie sounds the corresponding number of low-pitched tones. At each quarter, it signals first the hours, then the number of quarters, indicated by triple strikes on three gongs, with each quarter having its own melody. When the grande sonnerie is not required, the watch can be set to the petite sonnerie, or in fact to silent…as indicated below “S” “G” “P”
The Patek Philippe Grandmaster Chime has two barrels delivering 30 hours of reserve power — solely for this striking mechanism!!
B) Minute repeater
In the Grandmaster Chime, the minute repeater is an integral part of the mechanism for the grande sonnerie, and is set in motion by applying a gentle pressure to the winding crown’s pusher.
C) Alarm with time strike
For the first time in the history of watchmaking, this watch uses the minute repeater strike sequence as an acoustic alarm signal, providing a gentle alert using the same sequence of strikes. When the alarm is activated, all other chiming functions are disabled, remaining mute until the alarm has sounded or is switched off.
As a reminder that the alarm is activated, the color in the bell-shaped aperture on the alarm dial will turn red; once the alarm has sounded, the color changes back to white.
On the 24-hour subsidiary dial at 12 o’clock, the alarm time can be set to quarter-hour accuracy. However, the alarm will always sound two minutes before the preset quarter-hour to avoid not hearing times that require fewer strikes, such as 1 o’clock. Two minutes before the preset time, the repeater will sound 12:58, with twelve strikes for the hours, 3 triple strikes for the quarter-hours, and 13 strikes for the minutes; this is an acoustic time indication that cannot be missed.
D) Perpetual date repeater
This complication — a world first — was reportedly inspired by a conversation that Thierry Stern had 10 years ago with a well-established collector. The acoustic date repeater signals with a high-low note for each multiple of 10 days and a single higher note for each unit.
A date display is present on both Grandmaster Chime dials. And because this is a perpetual mechanism that recognizes the different number of days in each month and the leap-year cycle, it always displays the right date (the rare exceptions are “secular years” – the next one being in 2100 – which cannot be divided by four hundred).
E) Instantaneous perpetual calendar
In the Grandmaster Chime, the instantaneous perpetual calendar – displaying date, day, month, leap year cycle, and year – has its own elegant dial, with a clean and appealing layout that ensures legibility. Surrounding a four-digit year display (a very rare indication in wristwatches for which a patent application has been filed), four stately dials indicate day of the week (on the left), month (on the right), time in a 24-hour format (top), and date and leap-year cycle (below).
F) Time, second time zone, and moon phases
The Grandmaster Chime presents a unique repertoire of acoustic functions, but it also tells the time in the customary way, with more practical complications: a gold hour hand can be set to a second time zone (coupled with a day/night indicator). And of course why not also include a moon phase complication, an ever-popular horological complication.
In grand total, there are 20 complications on the Grandmaster Strike:
Patek Philippe Calibre 300 GS AL 36-750 QIS FUS IRM
Manually wound mechanical movement
Grande sonnerie, petite sonnerie, minute repeater. Strikework mode display (silence/grande sonnerie/petite sonnerie). Alarm with time strike. Date repeater. Going train power-reserve indicator. Strikework power-reserve indicator. Strikework isolator indicator (chimes enabled/disabled). Second time zone. Day/night indicator for second time zone. Instantaneous perpetual calendar. Display of day, month, and date. Leap-year cycle. Four-digit year display. Moon phases. 24-hour and minute subdial.
Suffice it to say, the Grandmaster Chime (or the seven of them to be more precise), is unlike any watch in existence. As noted, ix of the Grandmaster Chimes will be sold to collectors and enthusiasts, while the seventh with join the collection at the Patek Philippe Museum.
This pièce de resistance is accompanied by three further limited-edition commemorative timepieces for men and ladies that recall legendary models and technologies from Patek Philippe’s heritage: the World Time watches with their patented time-zone mechanisms, the highly precise moon-phase display, the jumping indications, and the chronograph. Stay tuned.