Ever since the dawn of horology, people have been fascinated by the interaction of wheels, levers, and springs in timepieces. Therefore, it is not surprising that gifted watchmakers occasionally took a fancy to showcasing the wondrous inner choreography of their creations – much to the delight of their customers. These were the origins of skeleton watches, the challenging art of cutting openings into plates, bridges, and cocks until the limits of mechanical and functional feasibility are attained. The Patek Philippe Ref. 5180/1 salutes this fine art in a way that by far transcends the notion of the skeleton watch.
Debut of a completely skeletonized and rhodiumed movement
Patek Philippe offers connoisseurs of artisanal tradition such a transparent orchestration of time with the Ref. 5180/1, a skeletonized wristwatch featuring the ultra-thin self-winding calibre 240 movement with a 22K gold mini-rotor integrated into the plate. By affording a fascinating glimpse into the microcosm of hours, minutes, and seconds, it not only captivates the owner with an extravagant setting but also delivers metaphoric insights into the unfathomable fleetingness of time. However, it takes virtually infinite patience, uncommon artistic flair, and the ultimate in craftsmanship to arrive at this point.
Many hours are needed to fully skeletonize just the balance cock, and weeks of work must be invested to cut openings into the barrel bridge, the plate, both sides of the mainspring barrel, and numerous other parts of this watch with the objective of sculpting a breathtakingly transparent structure. As if this were not enough, the components are then embellished with exquisite engravings that give the elements an even more filigreed look and cause the incident light to literally dance along the polished bevels. Indeed, this is a fantastic stage for the ballet of rotating brass wheels.
The pure beauty of the Ref. 5180/1 is accented by the “Patek Philippe Genève” signature that is hand engraved in the pierced plate around the circular opening that exposes the mainspring barrel. The opening itself is decorated with a Calatrava cross that is finished by hand down to the very last detail. The suspension system for the winding-rotor is in itself a lesson in tracery. The plate is pierced to such a degree that only a few delicately curved struts remain. The compact rhodiumed gold rotor that oscillates beneath them is engraved with arabesques on both sides.
To emphasize the diaphanous look and ultra-thin construction of the skeletonized calibre 240 movement, Patek Philippe went a step further with the Ref. 5180/1. The 39-mm case in 18K white gold is also reduced to an absolute minimum. On the dial side, it has a gently domed crystal, and the snap back with the sapphire-crystal window seals the other side. The 18K white gold casing ring is also pierced, leaving only 12 radial spokes that serve as hour markers. To highlight the aesthetic appeal of this magnificent timepiece, the periphery of the sapphire-crystal back is dyed blue in the zone beneath the casing ring. This charismatic indigo hue contrasts with the silvery gloss of the skeletonized movement, the golden brass wheels, and the luminous ruby-red jewels.
Aspiring owners need patience
The Ref. 5180/1 is not a limited, special edition. It now belongs to the growing collection of exceptional Patek Philippe watches. However, because of the time and the rare artisanal skills required to craft these timepieces, only very few of them will be produced in the course of a year. Because the skeletonization and engraving work is purely manual, slight deviations from watch to watch cannot be ruled out. However, this is not likely to concern collectors of exclusive Patek Philippe watches.
Model: Skeleton watch, Ref. 5180/1 in 18K white gold
Caliber 240 SQU ,Ultra-thin, self-winding, mechanical movement, rhodiumed; skeletonized, engraved, and finished by hand
Diameter: 27.50 mm
Height: 2.53 mm
Number of parts: 159
Number of jewels: 27
Power reserve: max. 48 hours
Winding rotor: Integrated minirotor in 22K gold, rhodiumed, unidirectional winding
Frequency: 21,600 semi-oscillations/hour (3 Hz)
Balance spring: Flat
– Pulled out: to set the time
– Pushed in: to wind the movement
Leaf-shaped hour and minute hands in blued steel
18K white gold
Pierced casing ring in 18K white gold
Sapphire-crystal snap back with blue-tint periphery
Water-resistant to 3 bar
Dimensions: Diameter: 39 mm , Height: 6.65 mm , Width between lugs: 20 mm
Pierced casing ring with spokes for hour markers; the cutouts reveal the blued periphery of the sapphire-crystal case back
Blued leaf-shaped hands for hours and minutes
Supple Patek Philippe bracelet in 18K white gold with fold-over clasp in 18K gold, engraved inscription Patek Philippe Genève