As the world awaits the official opening of the Olympic…
The minute repeater, arguably the most difficult single complication to create for a watch, is enjoying a resurgence among top watch collectors. While there are myriad ways to tell the time today, chiming watches hold a special allure with their unique mechanically-produced sound. A minute repeater can be a very discreet, stealth complication that doesn’t scream expensive watch. At a recent visit to the Henry Stern Watch Agency, Patek Philippe’s US president, Larry Pettinelli, revealed that every minute repeater that Patek Philippe creates (exact number is not revealed), first must pass a “sound taste” inspection by the company’s CEO, Thierry Stern. Such is Mr. Stern’s discerning ear is the final test for a Patek Philippe minute repeater, and he will occasionally send a watch back to be refined if the sound is not to his liking.
While rose gold is the company’s go-to metal for most repeaters due to the excellence of the sound quality, there are some solid exceptions, some of which were on display at a recent showing in New York.
The ref. 5307P minute repeater also features a tourbillon, instantaneous perpetual calendar, moon phase, and a day/night indicator. Its bezel and hour markers are also set with diamonds, and the case is crafted of platinum. The sound is pure and “crystalline,” says David Bonilla, technical manager of the Henry Stern Watch Agency, Patek Philippe’s official distributor and service center in the United States. In general, platinum pieces tend to have a very clear tone.
Another outstanding model is the Ref. 7000R, the Ladies First Minute Repeater. The simplicity of the time-only display in the rose gold piece adds a stealth element to the watch, whose chimes are warm yet strong. The watch is equipped with the R 27 PS self-winding movement. Every Patek Philippe minute repeater chimes at a sound level between 30-40 decibels.
Not to be outdone, the men’s 5078R also features the R 27 PS movement in a rose gold case. Its refined dial is made of enamel, with elegant applied Roman numerals indicating the hours and a minute track bordering the dial. A sub seconds hand at 6 o’clock completes the dial design.
It’s hard to overstate the rarity of these extraordinary timepieces, owning one is a Holy Grail for most top collectors. Patek Philippe keeps an exact “fingerprint” recording of the chiming of each watch, to ensure they can return the watch to its original sound after servicing.