Ultra-luxe watch brand Patek Philippe is renowned for producing some of the most sublime timepieces the world has ever known. And the pinnacle of achievement for the watchmaker, founded on excellence nearly 180 decades ago, is its grand complications. The exact definition of a grand complication is always under review in horological circles, however, in essence, it is a skilfully engineered watch which comprises many highly complex functions.
However, the expansive in expansive complication also refers to the combination of these functions; these puzzle pieces work together in harmony within the design of their timepiece, which over the decades has become smaller and thinner. Patek Philippe complications chronograph replica watch‘s most complicated wristwatch so far — the Grandmaster Chime Ref 6300G, a white gold edition released last year – homes 20 complications also comprises a staggering 1,366 parts. It’s a less ornate form of the hand-engraved 18k rose-gold Grandmaster Chime 5175, which was introduced in 2014 for the house’s 175th anniversary, and of which seven were made; one is kept for posterity — a cool $2.6 million (#2 million) addition to the family at the Patek Philippe Museum in Geneva.
The movement of the Calatrava usually ranges from 2.53 to 3.3millimeters in thickness, depending upon the model; this is slimmer than a grain of rice. The caliber of the 6300G, meanwhile, steps 10.7mm (since we’re talking carbohydrates, this is just marginally thinner than a piece of bread). But although it is substantially larger, the functionality of the latter chiming movement beggars belief — little wonder it requires a staggering four weeks to assemble.
Much like Patek Philippe grand complications, hundreds of hours will have been pumped into sculpting each micrometre of its make-up prior to assembly: for example, each wheel has to undergo 40 to 60 operations before it’s fit for purpose. Furthermore, each wheel’s teeth, as well as those on its fitting pinion (tiny cogwheel), is polished by hand on a wooden grinding wheel to decrease friction and ensure the smooth running of the motion. Normally, you will find 60 wheels in each Patek Philippe grand complication moment repeater, and more than 200 from the Grandmaster Chime. With imperceptible surgeries like these, Patek Philippe complications world time replica leads by example in the world of superlative luxury.
Like most masterpieces created on a miniature scale — from the miniature Tudor portraits painted by Nicholas Hilliard to the modern micro-sculptures of Willard Wigan, which sit inside the eye of a needle — Patek Philippe’s virtuosity takes years, or even decades, of bolstering. In the watchmaker, the micromechanical sophistication of grand complications is artistry seen through a wide-angle lens: it takes countless people to make such a timepiece (about 400 in the event of the Grandmaster Chime 5175), working from the idea stage right through to meeting in the company’s workshops — and that is before you consider the coterie of highly skilled workers specialising in the art of marquetry, gem-setting, engraving, guilloché and enamel work that’s applied to the dials, casing and bracelets. The 5175 view is an extreme case, but in terms of sophistication, the gradient between distinct grand complications is relatively gentle; they are all spectacularly intricate, as shown by the house’s earliest timepieces.
By way of example, innovations like the Spiromax equilibrium spring — portion of a trio of patented elements collectively known as Oscillomax, the brand’s answer to a micro power saver — have meant giant leaps in precision, reliability and efficiency. This sacred trinity of the Swiss watchmaking world has caused longer power reserves for self-winding watches and thinner motions within the Patek Philippe portfolio.
Really, the watchmaker holds over 120 patents for its creations, and the manufacture of its grand complications, from caliber to case, is completed completely in-house. Let’s not forget, too, that Patek Philippe gave us the summit with the first timepieces that did not call for a key; these was snapped up by Queen Victoria.
It was women who began the tendency for wristwatches, since before the early 20th century it was considered louche for a guy to wear a’bracelet’ watch, unless he was in the military. Patek Philippe created the very first Swiss wristwatch for its Countess Koscowicz of Hungary in 1868; a swirly yellow-gold slice, set with diamonds, also it looks to be an ornate miniature mantle clock to the wrist. The brand’s first striking wristwatch was a women’ five-minute repeater placed in a platinum case, published in 1916. While it’s clear that the majority of horological fans are men — a powerful association with maritime, airborne and automotive pursuits has played no little role in this — Patek Philippe has, at the previous five decades particularly, enlarged into grand complications for women. This shows there’s a growing female interest in the mechanics of highly complex motions, where after the focus was solely about the attractiveness of the dial and precious jewellery settings.
You might wonder why it has taken 178 years for Patek Philippe complications tourbillon fake to create such bejewelled, made-to-order moment repeaters given the organization’s reputation for horological wizardry through the years. A case in point is that the new, retro-styled 5320G Perpetual Calendar, that has literally been’crafted for eternity’; an opinion so exact (it recognises months with 28, 29, and 31 days, and leap years) it won’t require a manual date change until 2100, a secular year based on the Gregorian calendar. The solution is dependent upon the pursuit of melodic perfection, which can take years of research in regards to the delicate art of designing minute repeaters. In the instance of the Symphony collection, using such a generous number of diamonds adds weight to the timepiece, which could significantly affect the tonality and timbre of this delicate recoil mechanism.
Throughout its fabrication, a Patek Philippe complications moonphase replica minute repeater is constructed and adjusted by one master watchmaker, but until the components reach him, they need to pass through the hands of specialised artisans that turn each and every bit of metal into a mini work of art. CNC (computer- controlled) machinery and industrial presses fabricate the raw kinds of plates, bridges, levers and springs with steady precision, but this is merely a baby step in the journey towards creating such a sophisticated timepiece.
“There are 30 hours between the two,” she explains, matter-of-factly. “I have to leave space to the engraving; if I remove so much as part of a millimetre over I’m supposed to… well, it is no good!” she laughs. It takes the patience of a saint, as well as a strong fix, to undertake such work, particularly given the reality that a final component might not pass the home’s stringent controls, which culminate in the Patek Philippe complications 5396r clone watches Seal, the best stamp of approval. Depending on their complexity, completed movements are typically evaluated over a period of 30 days; even when a watch is complete after casing, it’s examined for a further 20 days until it is vacuum packed and ready for the official handover to the client.
“Occasionally it is that the colour isn’t uniform, or it might be an uneven surface,” says the pro artisan of their quality controller her labor – intensive baseplate work is put through. “The play of light also has to be beautiful. There are a lot of reasons why it can’t proceed to through. It has to perfect, because otherwise the next person isn’t able to continue their work.”
Elite Swiss watchmaking is frequently perceived as a sedate world, inhabited by men in white coats who are employed in hushed tones. Office banter is admittedly not conducive to these specialised function, but the air at Patek Philippe’s albeit immaculate’pre-montage’ assignments debunks this myth.
What a huge buzz that first celebratory sip has to bring.