It’s a Patek Philippe extravaganza!
Six new versions of existing models have just been released showcasing Patek’s artisanal crafts to celebrate its “Rare Handcrafts” exhibition on display through June 26th at the company’s headquarters on the Rue du Rhône 41 in Geneva. According to the brand, it will be the “richest collection ever to be on display there.”
The pandemic forced the watchmaker to hold back on its 2020 exhibition, resulting in a more extensive array for 2021. (In observance of current protocols, interested viewers are being asked to register online for the exhibition beforehand.) That means a showcase of one-of-a-kind and limited-edition pocket watches, wristwatches, dome clocks and table clocks featuring manual engraving, grand feu cloisonné enamel, miniature painting, guilloché, gem-setting and wood micro-marquetry across 75 distinct pieces. It’s a veritable wonderland for horophiles looking to catch a glimpse of Patek Philippe artisans at work, as well as see these special pieces before they are delivered to private collections. But it’s the spread of new references that may pique the most interest among collectors.
First up is the impressive 44 mm by 17.35 mm double-face Sky Moon Tourbillon Ref. 6002R-001 featuring 12 complications. Launched in 2001 with the Ref. 5002, it is Patek Philippe’s second most complicated wristwatch. It was previously available in an 18-karat white-gold case and a blue enamel dial or, most recently, a white-gold case with a black enamel dial. The latter has now been replaced with a new reference dressed in 18-karat rose gold with a brown grand feu enamel as its centerpiece. Adding an extra level of flourish, the dial, moon phase aperture and the moon rotating disc are delivered in champlevé enamel, requiring the base metal to be milled out with the recesses filled in with enamel. The center dial is adorned in grand feu cloisonné enamel created using a thin flat gold wire. The most overtly ornate decor, however, was reserved for the case, crowns, minute repeater slide and fold-over clasp, all manually engraved with scroll-like and Arabesque ornamentation requiring more than 100 hours of work—that’s 12-and-a-half days of engraving. Needless to say, a simple slip-up on a piece of this nature would be costly indeed, so this level of work requires the ultimate level of expertise.
All of this artistry still can’t distract from the mechanical mastery within. A perpetual calendar with a retrograde date and a moon phase with a leap year cycle are displayed on the front dial. On the flip side, a celestial chart shows the journey of the moon and stars in the northern hemisphere. There’s also a tourbillon and a minute repeater with cathedral gongs for good measure.
Topping off the offer is a pair of matching hand-engraved cufflinks, also in 18-karat rose gold.
While the 43 mm by 13.3 mm Ref. 5304/301R-001 Minute Repeater’s big news is that it now comes outfitted in high jewelry with 80 flawless Top Wesselton baguette diamonds of approximately 6.22 carats, the view of its caliber R 27 PS QR LU movement through its transparent sapphire-crystal dial—a first for the brand in 2006 with the Ref. 5104 version—remains the real fireworks of the piece. It contains a retrograde perpetual calendar, minute repeater and a flyback date display with a red crescent moon tip that marks the numerals on a scale along the periphery of the dial.
For legibility, Patek Philippe uses transparent sapphire-crystal discs with white letters for the day-of-the-week, month and leap-year cycle that rotate into position in apertures with black backgrounds. It required a patented system to attach the discs to minute steel arbors. Likewise, the pierced leaf-shaped hands are done in black-lacquered white gold to stand out against the busy backdrop.
The rose gilt plates are decorated in perlage, while the steel parts come with beveled and polished edges. An 18-karat rose gold mini-rotor is decorated in a leaf motif with rhodium sinks.
The diamonds certainly emphasize the fact that this ain’t a piece for shallow pockets, but they still play second fiddle to the incredible intricacy on display.
For those looking for serious watchmaking in a more subtle package, the 42 mm by 12.2 mm Ref. 5374G-001 will likely be more wearable. It may be extravagant to suggest that a minute repeater with a perpetual calendar would be an everyday wear, but it’s certainly more versatile for nearly every occasion (except sports). This piece first debuted in 2016 in a platinum case with a black grand feu enamel dial. Playing to current dial color trends, it now comes in a high-gloss finished blue grand feu enamel in a, relatively speaking, more accessible case metal in 18-karat white gold. The manually applied enamel powder hue tops off a dial plate in 18-karat gold.
The self-winding caliber R 27 Q contains a minute repeater that strikes two cathedral gongs, as well as a perpetual calendar and a 24-hour display. It is surrounded by refined finishing details like satin-finished recesses on the case flank and a moon phase aperture topped off in a champlevé technique. Tiny details like the cabochons that decorate the end of the lugs also add an extra touch of finesse, while the white-gold leaf-shaped hands are filled with luminous coating for legibility against the dark setting.
It comes on a shiny blue alligator strap and its sapphire-crystal caseback is also offered with an interchangeable solid back. It replaces the Ref. 5374P-001 in platinum with a black grand feu enamel dial. It is pure Patek and, in our opinion, the most desirable of the new high-complication timepieces.
The 36 mm by 10.14 mm Ref. 7040/250G-002 minute repeater’s pared-down dial shows just the hours and minutes with a subsidiary dial for the seconds, allowing for the dial work on its grand feu flinqué enamel to take center stage. It’s executed in striking handcrafted guilloché in a sunburst motif that was inspired by the Ref. 992/137G-001 “Siamese Fighting Fish” pocket watch from 2019. It comes surrounded by 168 flawless Top Wesselton brilliant-cut diamonds in two offset rows using the company’s patented Flamme technique in which notches are cut into the gold between the stones to give extra sparkle to the gems.
But its seemingly simple elegance is deceiving. Inside, the self-winding caliber R 27 PS contains a minute repeater and a recessed 22-karat gold mini-rotor. The movement is visible through the sapphire-crystal caseback.
With its 18-karat white gold solid caseback, this is a discreet beauty with brains. It comes on a patinated ocean-blue alligator leather strap with an 18-karat white-gold buckle set with 26 brilliant-cut diamonds.
It takes a very specific sense of sartorial style to appropriately rock a Golden Ellipse decorated in an engraved vegetal or floral motif that spans the entire dial. The unusual case shape of the Ellipse, alone, sets the piece aside for collectors with a more nuanced attraction to watch design. (Collector Roni Madhvani, owner of more than a few Ellipses, illustrates this stylized approach to watch collecting best. See @roni_m_29 for details.) The new 34.5 mm by 39.5 mm by 6.58 mm Golden Ellipse Artisinat looks strikingly similar to the platinum with black grand feu enamel dial 2018 Golden Ellipse, presented in a limited edition of 100 pieces for the 50th anniversary of the model. A closer look at the dial, however, reveals that the design motif has been reworked into a different pattern. Another difference? It comes in 18-karat white gold.
The process involved in creating the ornate dial involved taking an 18-karat gold dial plated and piercing it to great recesses fill with black grand-feu enamel, the raised motif is then carved out through engraving. Like the engraving techniques on the Ref. 6002R-001 above, the design also uses scroll-like and Arabesque shapes.
The self-winding time-only caliber 240 movement beneath is powered by an off-center recessed mini-rotor in 22-karat gold.
With a hand-stitched shiny black alligator leather strap and a prong buckle closure, the Ref. 5738/51G will be an addition to the existing Ref. 5738P in platinum with a blue sunburst dial and the Rf. 5738R-001 in rose gold with an ebony sunburst dial.
Calling all hypebeasts! Another new Nautilus has entered the fray and this discreet beauty is set with a whopping 2,553 flawless Top Wesselton brilliant-cut diamonds totaling approximately 12.69 carats. You have seen it before in the Ref. 7118/1450R-001 in rose gold, but the latest version comes in white gold set with serious ice arranged in a snow setting. Great care is taken to make sure that as little of the precious metal is showing as possible, so that its wearer can show off its diamond assets to full capacity.
The 35.3 mm by 8.65 mm Nautilus comes with a self-winding caliber 324 S movement, which is visible through the case back. Its fold-over clasp is secured by four independent catches, but you may need to employ a full security detail to truly ensure its safety.
Bling-hounds have long been customizing their Nautiluses with diamonds thanks to a variety of outside operators like Mad Paris, but why not get the real deal?