The Superlatives Of Watchmaking
When the most renowned watch brand introduces a new masterpiece with a Minute Repeater and Grande Sonnerie complication, well, that’s what our clients and we call a horological climax. (In case you don’t know what these complications are, feel free to have a look in our Watch Basics Series – click here.) Patek is mainly known for its Nautilus collection among collectors rather than its elegant and complicated dress watches. Around one year ago, the Geneva watch brand introduced one of its most stunning timepieces, reference 6301P, which features the aforementioned Grande Sonnerie and Minute Repeater function. Containing one of the two complications is already incredible, but both together is almost magic. Especially the sound of the Patek Philippe 6301P Grande Sonnerie is mesmerizing and well-regarded among connoisseurs. See our video below.
Three Pairs Gongs
As most of you know, usually, minute repeaters use two pairs of hammers and gongs (high and low tones). In this case, the Geneva watch brand decided to equip the Patek Philippe 6301P with three pairs of gongs and hammers (high, medium and low tones). How does this sound? Well, first, the watch strikes the number of hours with a low-pitched sound. Then a triple tone sequence represents the quarter hours (in the order of high-low-medium). And for each of the minutes that have passed after the last full quarter of an hour, another high-pitched tone is heard afterwards.
Every Minute Repeater is unique and demands a perfect interaction of technological precision and human handcraft. Only when both are achieved and all components are perfectly assembled the watch creates an ideal sound. That’s why the watchmaker’s skills play a tremendously important role in a Minute Repeater’s sound quality.
New Developed Movement
Patek Philippe developed a new movement for its 6301P, called caliber GS 36-750 PS IRM. It includes 703 parts and was designed based on the caliber 300 of the Patek Philippe Grandmaster Chime reference 6300. It is the heart of all three striking mechanisms: Minute Repeater, Grande Sonnerie and Petite Sonnerie. For those who don’t know, Grande Sonnerie (“Big Strike”) and Petite Sonnerie (“Little Strike”) watches strike the time automatically and without the wearer’s intervention. The difference is that the Grande Sonnerie chimes the full hours and quarters, while the Petite Sonnerie strikes only every quarter that has passed (or the full hour). In other words, the Petit Sonnerie omits the repetition of the hours when striking the quarter hours.
As you can imagine, it’s not always favorable to have a watch that chimes every 15 minutes. That’s why Patek integrated a slider at 6 o’clock, which allows you to select between “Petite Sonnerie” (left side), “Grande Sonnerie” (middle) and “Silence” or “Mute” (right side). The pusher triggers the minute repeater in the crown (see our video). Patek Philippe ensures its movement has a power reserve of 24 hours for the striking mechanism and 72 hours for the movement. When fully loaded in Grande Sonnerie mode, the Patek Philippe 6301P will strike 1,056 times within 24 hours.
Grand Feu Black Enamel Dial
Since Patek Philippe always strives for perfection, the Geneva watch brand decided to fit reference 6301P with a Grand Feu black enamel dial (i.e. a disc of 18k white gold covered in black enamel) with a glazed finish and gold applied Breguet numerals. The luminous paint on the white gold hands is unusual for a classy watch, but Patek points its way to slightly more modern yet elegant dress watches.
At 6 o’clock, the dial also features a small jumping seconds display, which was never done with a Grande Sonnerie before. At 3 and 9 o’clock, the dial features the power reserve for the Sonnerie (3 o’clock) and the movement (9 o’clock).
With its diameter of 44.8 mm the Grande Complication timepiece appears to be oversized,. But as you can see on my wrist, it wears much smaller (more like 42mm, I would say). However, Patek Philippe paid attention to keeping the watch as thin as possible. And considering the complexity of the 6301P, they did a great job, as the watch is only 12 mm high.
950 Platinum Case
Collectors know that Patek Phillipe reserves the spot at 6 o’clock on the case for a flawless diamond between the lugs. But since for reference 6301P, this place is occupied by the slider for the different modes. The Swiss watch manufacturer relocated the diamond at the 12 o’clock position. No wonder Patek choose its most precious material for the case – platinum 950. The case back features sapphire crystal, allowing collectors to see caliber GS 36-750 PS IRM working. If the owner prefers the back closed, they can simply don the interchangeable solid platinum case back.
Availability & Price
The official retail price of the Patek Philippe 6301P Grande Sonnerie is around CHF 1.2 million. But even if you have the money and place an order at your authorized Patek Philippe dealership, chances are very low you will get one. Only a few dozens of collectors will be able to receive one of the watches as the production is limited to only a few pieces each year. President Thierry Stern makes the final decision on supply after submitting an application and a whole set of information about the potential buyer. In this way, Patek Philippe checks the seriousness of the collector and wants to prevent watches from being acquired solely to make quick money, as the market price of reference 6301P is currently north of CHF 2.5 million.
The sound of the Patek Philippe 6301P Grande Sonnerie made the watch one of the most sought-after timepieces on this planet as its chiming is a symphony for the human ear and soundwise one of the best creations of haute horology – chapeau Mr. Stern.
6301P Grande Sonnerie
Official retail price is around CHF 1.2 million, but the current market price is approximately CHF 2.5 – 3 million
There is no official limitation, but very limited since only a handful of pieces are produced each year.
Diameter: 44.8 mm; height 12 mm
When to wear:
Collectors perceive the watch as one of the ultimate Minute Repeater wristwatches—wearing such a beauty on a daily basis would not do the watch justice. For me, this masterpiece is a “special purpose only” timepiece.
What we love about the watch:
There is so much to love about the watch. But I am a big fan of its classy look, although it’s one of the most complicated Patek Philippe watches. Also, the fact that the reference 6301P will strike 1’056 times within 24 hours when it’s fully loaded in Grande Sonnerie mode left me speechless.
Video: The Collectors Circe
Photography: Patek Philippe Website