On August 30, connoisseurs of haute horology will be able to view several of the world’s finest examples of the craft as Patek Philippe and Robb Report collaborate on a live webcast presentation of minute-repeater timepieces from the Swiss manufacture. The consummate collection of 12 watches is worth approximately $7.5 million and represents the largest assemblage of the atelier’s chiming watches under one roof in the United States.
The rare reveal will be broadcast from Patek Philippe’s U.S. headquarters in New York City and hosted by Robb Report’s own leading authority James D. Malcolmson. Also present at the proceedings will be Larry Pettinelli, the president of the Henri Stern Watch Agency (Patek Philippe’s U.S. division), and David Bonilla, its technical manager.
“Patek Philippe is the beacon for traditional watchmaking and, in the end, tradition is probably the most compelling aspect about mechanical watches,” says Malcolmson.
Considered one of the most intricate complications created, the repeater (indicating the hour by chime on demand) was invented by English priest Edward Barlow in 1676 as a method for the nocturnal notation of time before the advent of integrated luminescence. Followed up in pocket-watch form by Daniel Quare four years later, the mechanism would, by the mid-18th century, include an elaborate configuration using miniscule hammers and gongs to sound off the hour, quarter hour, and minute.
“Minute repeaters are the oldest of all the major complications and have always occupied a position at the very top of the horologic pyramid,” says Malcolmson. “They represent the only purely subjective area in the field, as it’s all about the sound. Even a layman can compare and appreciate the results of the impeccable workmanship in what has been called one of the last truly artistic forms of watchmaking.”
The real measure of a master, the minute repeater has been perfected by Patek Philippe’s peerless craftsmen, as evidenced by the vast tonal variety, selection of case material, jeweled settings, and additional functionality available. Among the dozen to be displayed will be a white-gold tourbillon ($520,000); a rose-gold triple-date perpetual calendar with cathedral gongs ($690,000); a platinum retrograde perpetual calendar with tourbillon escapement ($715,000); and a platinum automatic perpetual calendar chronograph ($825,000).
“Watch collectors can seldom listen to many minute repeaters firsthand and often buy them sight unseen based solely on the manufacture’s reputation,” notes Malcolmson. “For aficionados of Patek Philippe, this is a unique opportunity to hear such a large number of its watches at one time and have a sense of what they sound like comparatively.”
The exclusive exhibition will be complemented by expert commentary on all of the pieces, along with details on what makes each one so distinctive. Though the exact starting time has yet to be announced, those interested in virtually attending can do so at robbreport.com/firstlook.