Patek Philippe is celebrating their 175th anniversary, and Thierry Stern chose to celebrate this landmark during the entire year starting from the beginning of Baselworld 2014 to the end of Baselworld 2015. This week Patek launched a number of limited editions, commemorative pieces, to celebrate their anniversary. Most insiders expected an even more complicated pocket watch than the calibre 89, that was created for the brand’s 150th anniversary. However Patek chose for another, at least as spectacular, commemorative piece, by introducing a wrist watch with no less than 20 complications. Here’s the Patek Philippe Grandmaster Chime ref. 5175.
Twenty complications in one wrist watch, that really is a lot. Usually when there’s a super complicated watch, whether it’s a pocket watch or wrist watch, it has massive dimensions. And while 20 complications is already incredibly impressive (wait until you see the list of complications), the (relatively) moderate dimensions of 47 mm in diameter by 16.1 mm in height. No bigger than the average Panerai, and you get 20 additional complications. OK, it’ll set you back 2,5 million Swiss Francs IF you’re able to acquire one. But chances are low, because there will be just 6 pieces for sale, and one additional piece for the Patek museum.
As said, the Grandmaster Chime Ref. 5175 comprises no fewer than 20 complications, including coveted functions such as a Grande and Petite Sonnerie, a minute repeater, an instantaneous perpetual calendar with a four-digit year display, a second time zone, and two patented global debuts in the domain of chiming watches: an acoustic alarm that strikes the alarm time and a date repeater that sounds the date on demand. The latter was invited by non other than Thierry Stern (Patek’s president of the board) himself!
Here’s a list of all twenty complications:
- Grande Sonnerie
- Petite Sonnerie
- Minute repeater
- Strikework mode display (Silence/Grand Sonnerie/Petite Sonnerie)
- Alarm with time strike
- Date repeater
- Movement power-reserve indicator
- Strikework power-reserve indicator
- Strikework isolator display
- Second time zone
- Second time zone day/night indicator
- Instantaneous perpetual calendar
- Day-of-week display
- Month display
- Date display (on both dials)
- Leap year cycle
- Four-digit year display
- 24-hour and minute subdial
- Moon phase
- Crown position indicator (RAH)
Although there are quite a few chiming complications, which do not use dial-space, or at least not that much, one dial, to display everything would simply be insufficient. Patek chose to use the two sides of the case and put dials with displays for the various complications on either side. It’s made very easy to change the dial facing upwards, and it’s done in just a few seconds: pull the strap on either side of the case, to unlock two locking pins in the lugs, and you can rotate the case.
Patek’s Grandmaster Chime features not only classical complications like a grande and petite sonnerie, a minute repeater, and a perpetual calendar. It also features six new patents, some of which focus on new striking functions, some are focussed on improving the watch’ chronometric rates. Let’s have a closer look at each of the new patents.
Ref. 5175 Patents
- Patent: Alarm mechanism with time strike mechanism that acoustically indicates a preset alarm time with hour, quarter-hour, and minute strikes using the chiming mechanism of the minute repeater.
- Patent: Isolation of the Grande Sonnerie in the Silence mode mechanism that totally uncouples the Grande Sonnerie from the movement when the Silence mode is selected, eliminating friction and thus power consumption.
- Patent: Selection of strikework operating mode mechanism that allows the automatic time strike to be selected or disabled with a single slide switch: Grande Sonnerie, Petite Sonnerie or Silence. Before this had to be done by two separate switches, one to select between Grand or Petite Sonnerie, and one for ON/OFF.
- Patent: Date repeater mechanism that obtains date information from the perpetual calendar and forwards it to the repeating mechanism. Invented by non other than Thierry Stern, the president of Patek Philippe.
- Patent: Reversible wristwatch case with rotating and latching devices in the lugs, allowing it to be turned along the axis from 12 to 6 o’clock and locked in either of 2 positions.
- Patent: Mechanism for a four-digit year display that automatically synchronizes the four-digit year display with the leap-year cycle and allows correction of both displays in either direction (this innovation will mean a lot to many collectors and we hope to see this patent to find its way into other perpetual calendar watches. )
The official press photos, as shown above, show a rich engraved case and lugs. The version we got some hands-on time with, was a prototype that isn’t engraved. During the presentation and festivities later that evening, the engraving were one of the main topics of discussion. Not every one likes an engraved case, and honestly, this would not be my choice for my own daily beater. However when realize this is one of six/seven commemorative pieces, the highly decorated case and lugs start to make sense. Although Patek managed to keep the size within wearable margins, it will not be very likely to become some one’s daily beater (with a price of 2,5 million Swiss Francs.) This is a museum-worthy timepiece, and has matching decorative engravings.
Next: what’s inside…
The movement is calibre GS AL 36-750 QIS FUS IRM. Say what? Well, that’s what Patek has named it, and it’s almost as complicated as the movement itself. Kidding aside, this is of course one of the most complicated wrist watch movements in the world and it comprises 1,366 individual parts. Again, I’m very much impressed by the size of the watch and also of the movement’s dimensions. It’s just 37 mm across and 10.7 mm high.
Some of the facts: 108 jewels, 32 bridges, 72 hours of power reserve for the movement, 30 hours of power reserve for the strikework, of course it’s equipped with Patek’s own Gyromax balance and Spiromax balance spring, which vibrate at a rhythm of 25,200 vph (2,5 Hz). Of course the entire movement is lavishly finished and decorated, even if the owner will probably never get to see the movement. It comes with the Patek Philippe Seal, which says all about the impeccable level of finishing.
The Patek Philippe Grandmaster Chime reference 5175 is a superlative masterpiece. It took me a few hours to digest what it really is, mainly because it’s A) not exactly what I expected and B) features a number of new complications we have never seen (or heard.) These new complications add so much to the actually usability of this piece as wrist watch that can actually be worn. Maybe not every one would appreciate the extravagantly engraved case and lugs, however with just six pieces that will be available for purchase, and a retail price of 2.5 million Swiss Francs, I guess that will sort out. The Grandmaster Chime is THE magnum opus of this beautiful, family-owned Genevan watch brand, and is very wearable and museum-worthy at the same time.
Congrats to the six new owners and congratulations to Patek Philippe and the Stern family for doing such an impressive job.
www.patek.com (PS. when visiting the Patek website, check out the entire historical line with highlights!)