The high-end watchmaker breaking world records
In the world of watch enthusiasts, the name Patek Philippe needs no introduction, and recent additions to the Grand Complication collection only strengthen the atelier’s esteem, writes Madeline Hoskin.
If mastery of complications is the supreme test of an atelier’s skill, then the Grand Complications sealed Patek Philippe’s status as monarchs of haute horlogerie decades ago. Since its inception, the collection has housed some of the most exquisite timepieces, condensing centuries of innovation into pieces that tackle the most complex of horological challenges. The label has twice this century broken the record for the world’s most complicated wristwatch, and as technology continues to advance, one can be assured the calibre of Patek’s complications will more than keep up.
Take, for instance, the new 5531R World Time Minute Repeater. Not only is it the first time in Patek’s history that these two complications have been paired, but it’s also the first minute repeater in the world to chime local time anywhere across the globe.
Two impressive features such as these within the one timepiece would be enough for most watchmakers, but not for Patek Philippe. It went one step further, enclosing this creation behind a dial featuring a cloisonné enamel depiction of the Lavaux winegrowing region at its centre. This in itself is a diminutive work of art, with the enamel painted on in delicate layers.
To many, the concept of displaying 24 time zones upon one dial sounds like a cluttered mess, even without the addition of an intricate centrepiece. However, Patek achieves this immaculate aesthetic without compromising on legibility or acoustics.
“Patek Philippe has classical styling that never dates. Combine this with their meticulous quality and its watches are items to be treasured.” – Julian Farren-Price
Of course, not every Grand Complication piece redesigns the wheel in the same manner as the 5531R. Some “simply” build on the genius of earlier models, making them over for the modern age.
Those fond of perpetual calendars will be well aware of Patek Philippe’s Reference 5270, first released in 2011. The chronograph has this year received two contemporary facelifts, the first with the release of the 5270P, complete with platinum case, eye-catching salmon dial and blackened gold numerals.
The 5270/1R is equally attractive: The ebony dial strikes a beautiful contrast to the rose-gold case, while its dominating size helps it retain an undeniably masculine appeal.
The more you delve into Patek’s current Grand Complications, the more remarkable the collection becomes. The revamped 5208R, for example, brings together 719 parts to form an exquisite minute repeater, monopusher chronograph and an instantaneous perpetual calendar. This trio is ultra-complex, and has rarely been mastered in self-winding form.
Indeed, when it comes to complications of this quality, “impressive” doesn’t even begin to do them justice. With Patek Philippe on the wrist, one truly is in the presence of a master.
For those interested in securing their own piece of Patek perfection, J Farren- Price has been an Official Agent since 1977, educating the Australian public on the long-term value of these pieces. “This is the essence of owning a Patek Philippe, something of lasting value that will be passed down through the family. There are few things like this in life today,” says the boutique’s director, Julian Farren-Price.