Over the past 25 years, Patek Philippe has presented three event-themed collections: in 1989 for its 150th anniversary; in 1997 for the inauguration of its Manufacture in Plan-les-Ouates; and a complete range to mark the transition to the year 2000. Composed of watches featuring several degrees of sophistication, each has generally featured a grand-complication model with a striking mechanism; another with a discreet complication; as well as creations introducing various novel style features. The 175th anniversary celebration is no exception to the rule.
The 175th anniversary grand-complication model is the Grandmaster Chime and we have already taken an opportunity to examine it in detail. It is the natural heir to the Calibre 89 and the Star Calibre 2000, both major striking watches presented at the above-mentioned milestone events.
On this particular occasion, the model with a discreet complication is the Chiming Jump Hour. This jumping hour model is adorned with intricately engraved motifs on its cushion-shaped platinum case as well as on the gold dial. It houses the brand-new 32-650 HGS PS movement. The latter’s operation is far more rich and complex than the simple hour aperture and its three hands reveal, since this is also a mechanism that strikes “in passing”, meaning on the top of every hour – unless of course this automatic strike is disabled by placing the dedicated activating slide in the off position. It is also a jumping minute model and the central hand is always pointing directly to a tiny black dot on the railway track minute scale. And finally, the small seconds hand is of the dead-beat type and also jumps from one graduation to the next rather than moving in fractions of a second according to the rhythm of the escapement. The direct consequence of this triple complexity is that all three indications must jump exactly when the watch strikes the hour. This requires a substantial amount of energy to be released in a fraction of a second. This challenge has been met by means of mechanisms that store up the energy that is then unleashed at the precise moment. While achieving all this involved four patented innovations, this movement will be used only in the 175 watches composing the ref. 5275P limited edition.
The novel style features are spread between two models. The first is the Multi-Scale Chronograph, which debuts a new case principle by which the lugs are screwed both to the bezel and to the caseband. Their construction is more complex than it might seem and contributes to moulding the watch to the wrist by creating a gracefully tiered effect. In parallel, this model introduces a rare operating mode. Bereft of any minute or hour counters, it can indicate short times only on a one-minute scale. Scales are indeed the main theme of this watch, which comprises three of them. The tachymeter, telemeter and pulsimeter scales respectively serve to compute speeds, distances from an audible phenomenon, and heartbeats per minute. Short hands point to the central hours and minutes, while the dial is dominated by the utilitarian dimension of this unusual and yet extremely elegant chronograph.
The second stylistic innovation is showcased in the World Time Moon model, which inaugurates another aesthetic principle. Its curving, hollowed and flared lugs are of an entirely new type and run the entire length of the watch, giving a distinctive structure to the case flank. This extremely subtle design detail makes ref. 5575 a doubly special watch, in which the world time complication – of which Patek Philippe is one of the major exponents – is combined for the first time with a moon-phase indichation. The latter is a large central and extremely graphic display that makes a pleasing contrast with the small apertures generally offset at 6 o’clock to which connoisseurs are accustomed.
Nonetheless, the area in which this anniversary collection truly stands out from previous ones is the importance devoted to ladies’ watches. The World Time Moon is indeed also available in a version with a gem-set bezel and a daintier case making it ideal for women’s wrists. The same goes for the Multi-Scale chronograph, which also comes in a smaller size graced with dials that are different from the men’s versions. The scales appear in a different order, and even more importantly, feature baguette-cut diamond hour-markers located near the dial centre. The most obvious feminine touch is the vivid colour of the fuchsia pink or bright blue alligator straps setting the perfect final touch to these variations on the chosen complication theme
In addition to their inherent sophistication, these models are endowed with an exclusive dimension, since they are all to be issued in limited series of various sizes: 175 for the Chiming Jump Hour; 1300 for the Multi-Scale Chronograph for men and 300 for the ladies’ version; and 1300 for the World Time Moon men’s model and 450 for its ladies’ counterpart. The common denominator of all these watches is that Patek has for once entirely done away with sapphire case-backs; instead, they all feature a solid satin-brushed back engraved with the commemorative inscription “175e Anniversaire, 1839-2014”.