Thirty Patek Philippe "Repeats" for Philippe Stern's Birthday

Patek Philippe's latest jewel, created to celebrate the 85th birthday of Philippe Stern, the manufacture's Honorary President and watchmaking icon, has just been unveiled. Only 30 lucky people will have the opportunity to own this extraordinary chiming watch with minute repeater and alarm, a tribute to Stern's greatness. The exclusive, never-to-be-replicated movement is the beating heart of this limited series, guaranteeing authenticity and uniqueness. The platinum case, unmistakably in the Officier style, adds a touch of classic elegance, while the Grand Feu enamel dial black catches the eye with the portrait of Philippe Stern. A miniature work of art on white and gray enamel, making each watch a tangible testimony to Patek Philippe's craftsmanship.

Since its inception in 1839, the Patek Philippe Manufacture has steadily established its reputation in the world of chiming watches, both on passage (grande sonnerie, petite sonnerie) and on demand (repeater).

The high point of this tradition came in 1989, when Philippe Stern, then Director on the occasion of the Manufacture's 150th anniversary, marked an epoch-making moment by reintroducing the minute repeater in wristwatch format. This saw the debut of the famous self-winding Caliber R 27, the first movement of its kind completely conceived and manufactured in-house.

Over the years, the minute repeater has continued to be a cornerstone in the Patek Philippe range, evolving into the most extensive collection of minute repeater wristwatches currently in production. Some twelve exclusive models incorporate this Grande Complication either as a distinctive feature or in combination with other advanced functions, such as grande sonnerie, petite sonnerie, tourbillon, perpetual calendar, chronograph, Universal Time, and many others.

Patek Philippe's legacy of horological mastery continues to flourish, and the minute repeater remains a distinctive symbol of their dedication to excellence and innovation in the world of high-end watches.

 

To celebrate Philippe Stern's 85th birthday, Thierry Stern (representative of the fourth generation of the Stern family, appointed president in 2009) decided topay tribute to his father by making a special series of thirty watches that house a brand-new movement developed exclusively for this specimen, and that will never be reused, and that bear the inscription 1938, the year of the Honorary President's birth. The choice naturally fell on the minute repeater, Philippe Stern's favorite complication, combined with an exclusive sound function: the alarm that sounds the preset time. 

This sophisticated mechanism was part of the five sound functions, as well as the two patented world firsts, presented in the Grandmaster Chime Ref. 5175, Patek Philippe's most complicated wristwatch (20 complications), equipped with the hand-wound caliber 300 "GS AL 36- 750 QIS FUS IRM," introduced in 2014 on the occasion of the Manufacture's 175th anniversary. The Patek Philippe Grandmaster Chime, which entered the current collection in 2016 as Ref. 6300, contains the grande sonnerie, petite sonnerie, minute repeater, date repeater that chimes the calendar at will, and alarm that chimes the preset time.

 

Integrating the alarm function that chimes the preset hour into the emblematic Caliber R 27 proved to be a task of great complexity. The development of the new self-winding caliber R AL 27 PS forced Patek Philippe engineers to completely rethink the minute repeater mechanism to accommodate the alarm system. The challenge was to create a watch that would play the minute repeater and alarm on the same two classic gongs, while keeping the slider system housed in the left side of the case, the true visual signature of Patek Philippe's minute repeater watches .

To accomplish this, the movement had to be able, after the activation of the slider, to either instantly strike the time displayed on the dial (in minute repeater mode) or to put the chime on hold until the displayed time matched the preset time (in alarm mode). Unlike classic minute repeaters in which winding through the slider instantaneously engages the striking mechanism, the addition of an alarm system meant that the striking barrel had to be able to be disengaged from the striking mechanism by dragging the chime components (quarter component, minute component, hour finger).

 

Four new patents. Because of these technical constraints, it was necessary to add 227 components, including a bascule and column-wheel system for selecting the striking mode and a striking spindle device used to temporarily disconnect the power source (striking barrel drum) from the striking mechanism, a system usually reserved for watches equipped with large sonneries. The development of Caliber R AL 27 PS has resulted in the filing of four new patents for mechanisms that enable, in particular, safe switching from one striking mode to another, putting the alarm strike on hold until the appropriate time, in each case ensuring the correct sequence of "hour, quarter and minute" strikes, and guaranteeing that the striking barrel is always fully charged each time the slide is activated, so that the watch can always strike up to 31 strikes for the alarm (12 o'clock and 58 minutes) if necessary. In addition, the striking barrel has been equipped with a sliding bridle to prevent any over-tensioning of the spring.

As with all of Patek Philippe's complicated watches, technical sophistication goes hand in hand with ease of use-a design philosophy that is entirely customer-oriented. The pusher housed in the crown allows the user to select the striking mode, displayed inside a bell-shaped window at 3 o'clock. When the watch is in minute repeater mode (black bell), the user can activate the slider at any time to hear the sound of the hours, quarters and minutes elapsed since the last quarter. When the watch is in alarm mode (red bell), the slider must be activated to charge the alarm (the bell changes from red to white). When the alarm is activated and has not yet sounded (white bell), you can return to minute repeat mode by pressing the button without the chime engaging.

 

The 12-hour alarm time setting is done in quarter-hour jumps thanks to the crown pulled out to an intermediate position and the rose gold "Breguet"-style central hand that points at the rose gold-dusted scale on the edge of the dial. In order to ring as many strokes as possible, the alarm on Ref. 1938P-001 always sounds two minutes before the preset time. For example, if the alarm is set at 3 o'clock, instead of three grave strokes (which could easily go unnoticed), the watch will sound two grave strokes, three double high-pitched-grave strokes, and 13 high-pitched strokes, for a total of 21 strokes. A true musical interlude. The presence of the safety systems prevents any damage in case of mishandling of the watch, such as repeatedly activating the slider when the alarm is already activated or setting the movement time while the watch is playing.

 

The tribute to Philippe Stern continues on the 18-karat gold dial that displays the portrait of the Honorary President created using the technique of illuminated painting on white and gray enamel, on a background of black Grand Feu enamel. The patiently drawn point-by-point square is the fruit of one of those crafts of high craftsmanship that Philippe Stern has always strived to perpetuate. The passage of time is elegantly marked by applied numerals and "Breguet"-style hour and minute hands in white gold that contrast with the rose gold of the alarm hand and scale.

 

The case in platinum entirely hand-polished exhibits a diameter of 41 mm. With its straight lugs and screw-down bars, it too recalls one of Philippe Stern's most beloved creations: the limited series of Ref. 3960, an Officier-style timepiece reminiscent of the very first wristwatches of the early 20th century, presented in 1989 to mark the Manufacture's 150th anniversary. Platinum was chosen for its nobility., but also because acoustically it represents the greatest challenge for a minute repeater, if one wants to achieve the authentic "Patek Philippe sound" so appreciated by connoisseurs. Like all Patek Philippe watches in platinum, Ref 1938P-001 sports a diamond set on the case middle at 6 o'clock.The watch has a sapphire crystal case back protected by a hand-engraved cuvette bearing the inscription "À mon père, 85 ans de passion horlogère." (To my father, 85 years of watchmaking passion). Through the sapphire crystal one can admire the meticulous finishing of the new self-winding Caliber R AL 27 PS, particularly the bridges and hammers with gold-plated angles and the rhodium-plated 22-karat yellow gold mini-rotor with yellow gold angles and black lacquered hand engraving reproducing Philippe Stern's signature. The elegant and comfortable polished black alligator strap with platinum déployant clasp completes the ensemble.

 

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