This year, legendary Swiss watch brand Patek Philippe introduces the first minute repeater in its collection of ladies’ wristwatches: the Ref. 7000.
This beautiful timepiece is housed in a charming case in warm rose-gold and framed by a convex bezel. The manufacture’s classic Officer’s-style models also inspired the straight lugs with the screwed strap bars. In place of a hinged back-cover, however, it features a screwed sapphire-crystal back that reveals the marvel of sonorous time.
The slide that activates the minute repeater is perfectly integrated into the left-hand case side, juxtaposed by the fluted crown at 3 o’clock that visually emphasizes the equilibrium of the case form. The cream-colored dial with the transfer-printed maker’s signature and the seconds scale in antique rose is surrounded by the mirror-polished bezel.
Nine applied Breguet numerals in 18K rose gold and dainty rose-gold pearls at the periphery of the dial are placed along the hour and minute circles, accenting the easily legible, open face of the watch. It sets a sublime stage for the “Poire Stuart” hour and minute hands and the slim baton-style counterbalanced seconds hand.
All hands are crafted from 18K rose gold. It is easily to overlook the fact that this poised and feminine face conceals no fewer than 342 individual parts of a highly complex movement.
Its self-winding caliber R 27 PS is one of the thinnest movements with a striking mechanism, thus making the size of this minute repeater watch smallest among in this type of complications. It not only ranks among the few repeater movements that are self-winding but thanks to the off-center minirotor in 22K gold – fully recessed in the plate – its height is a scant 5.05 mm.
For every lover of complex watches, it is always a joy to observe the ballet of the filigreed parts of a striking mechanism in action. And it is not just men who are captivated by the complexities of haute horlogerie.
For instance, the number of hours, quarter-hours, and minutes displayed on the dial must be continuously updated by the system of intricately shaped cams, wheels, and snails so that they are in the right positions when the slide that triggers the minute repeater is actuated.
This is because the toothed segments of the hour, quarter-hour, and minute racks must move into the positions that allow them to accurately control the number of hour, quarter-hour, and minute strikes.
The rhythm of the strikes, in turn, is controlled by a small centrifugal governor, which assures that the gongs are struck in uniform succession rather than in a hurried sequence. Apart from many tiny parts, this also calls for the utmost in precision and patience in finishing, assembling, and adjusting them.
For this reason, movements with minute repeaters are crafted in separate haute horlogerie ateliers at Patek Philippe, where one master watchmaker is responsible for the assembly, adjustment, and completion of each individual watch from start to finish. This work is entrusted only to the most talented watchmakers whose assets are sharp eyes and ears, a steady hand, infinite patience, and years of experience.
At Patek Philippe, the last step in the inception of a minute repeater is an unusual process as well. After the fully cased watch has been subjected to a series of rigorous tests and its sonority analyzed with modern instrumentation, it must prove that it lives up to the demands of the human ear as well.
At the workshops in Geneva, this takes place in the offices of presidents Thierry and Philippe Stern, who in their capacity as owners of the company assume personal responsibility for the quality of its timepieces. Accordingly, they personally assess the acoustics of each minute repeater before it is delivered to its owner.
The typical Patek Philippe sound with its rich resonance is an inimitable brand element that characterizes all minute repeaters of the manufacture. For this reason, every single Patek Philippe Ref. 7000 minute repeater embarks on a months-long journey in the hands of its maker and the acoustic appraisal by Patek Philippe’s presidents before it is handed over to its delighted owner.
Model: Patek Philippe Ladies First Grand Complication, Ref. 7000, 18K rose gold (4N)
Ladies First Minute Repeater
– Caliber R 27 PS
– Self-winding mechanical movement with minute repeater
– Diameter: 28 mm
– Height: 5.05 mm
– Number of parts: 342
– Number of jewels: 39
– Power reserve: Max. 48 hours
– Winding rotor: 22K gold minirotor, unidirectionally winding
– Balance: Gyromax®
– Frequency: 21,600 semi-oscillations per hour (3 Hz)
– Balance spring: Flat
– Balance spring stud: Adjustable
– Hallmark: Patek Philippe Seal
– Minute repeater: Striking mechanism with two gongs (hours on low-pitched gong, minutes on high-pitched gong, and quarter-hours on both gongs)
– Pushed in: To wind the watch
– Pulled out: To set the time
Slide on the left side of the case to activate the minute repeater
– Hours and minutes from the center
– Subsidiary seconds at 6 o’clock
– 18K rose gold (4N), Officer’s style, cambered sapphire-crystal glass, solid 18K rose-gold back and interchangeable screwed display back with sapphire-crystal window
– Case dimensions: Diameter 33.7 mm
– Height: 9.50 mm
– Width between lugs: 14 mm
– Protection against splashwater and dust
– Cream-colored. Transfer-printed in antique rose
– Nine applied Breguet numerals in 18K rose gold
– “Poire Stuart” hour and minute hands in 18K rose gold
– Seconds hand in 18K rose gold
– Subsidiary seconds at 6 o’clock
Alligator leather with square scales, hand-stitched, matt mother-of-pearl hue, prong buckle in 18K rose gold