Patek Philipe's 175th Anniversary: The Brand's Most Complicated Watch

Posted by Carol Besler on Jan 10, 2015 2:17:20 AM

The Grandmaster Chime is delivered in a case of Makassar ebony and inlaid wood of 17 other species.

Patek Philippe, the world’s most collectible watch brand, celebrated its 175th anniversary in October with a party in Geneva where it introduced a collection of 6 new complicated watches. The Grandmaster Chime, the world’s most complicated watch, was one of them.

The Grandmaster Chime hand-wound Caliber GS AL 36-750 QIS FUS IRM has an astounding 1,366 components.

The Grandmaster Chime was introduced at the event, held at Patek Philippe headquarters in Plan-les-Ouates, a suburb of Geneva. The movement, driven by four spring barrels, has 20 complications, including a Grande and Petite Sonnerie, a minute repeater, an instantaneous perpetual calendar with a four-digit year display and a second time zone. It holds two patents: an acoustic alarm that strikes the alarm time as a minute repeater would strike the hours, minutes and seconds; and a date repeater that chimes the date on demand.

The Caliber is the hand-wound GS AL 36-750 QIS FUS IRM, with an astounding 1,366 components. If you add the 214 parts of the case, it comes to a total of 1,580 components for this watch. The watch automatically sounds the hours and quarters at each quarter hour. In Petite Sonnerie mode, only the hours at the top of the hour and quarters at each quarter hour are chimed. The quarter hour in this watch sounds not on two but on three gongs with different tone sequences – something that requires 50% more energy than a conventional Petite Sonnerie. In order to accomplish this, Patek Philippe had to ensure a strikework power reserve of at least one entire day. The watch has a 30-hour power reserve. The minute repeater sounds the hours, quarter-hours and minutes on demand.

The date repeater, triggered by a pusher, sounds ten-day intervals with a double high-low strike, and the remaining days with a high strike.

The watch also has a chimed alarm function, a great feature that garnered applause at the launch event. The alarm strikes the time by reproducing the complete tone sequence of the minute repeater – a function never before integrated in a mechanical wristwatch. There is also a date strike. The date repeater, triggered by a pusher sounds ten-day intervals with a double high-low strike, and the remaining days with a high strike. The 23rd of the month, for example, is indicated with a ding-dong ding-dong, followed by ding-ding-ding. And yet another notable feature: there is a four digit date display on the perpetual calendar, which can be incremented forward or backward with two pushers. This will be a hit at the turn of the century, when all four digits will turn over at midnight.

The watch is a double-face wristwatch, the first one presented by Patek Philippe that, thanks to reversible lugs, can be worn with either dial facing up: one side focuses on the time and the sonnerie, and the other is dedicated to the perpetual calendar. The current time and date are displayed on both dials. To protect it against damage caused by inadvertent manipulations, it incorporates isolators that interrupt the flow of power between individual mechanisms or block certain functions while others are active.

Hundreds of hours were spent on the decoration of the watch, by a master hand engraver. The relief engravings depict a special anniversary laurel foliage, along with symbols that reflect the functions. It is delivered in a case of Makassar ebony and inlaid wood of 17 other species. It is priced at 2.5-million Swiss francs.

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