Jewels & Time 2020: Patek Philippe Ref 6301P Grande Sonnerie Breaks New Ground
When revered horology house Patek Philippe revealed its latest Ref 6301P Grand Sonnerie wristwatch in November, it came as quite the surprise—it is, according to the brand, “its first wristwatch with a grand sonnerie in its purest manifestation”. Of course, that isn’t to say that the brand has not created wristwatches with grand sonneries—its Ref 5175 Grandmaster Chime from 2014 was certainly endowed with one. It simply means that it has not created one with the particular set of chiming complications present in the Ref 6301P Grande Sonnerie. With its grande sonnerie, petite sonnerie, and minute repeater complications (plus a jumping subsidiary seconds for good measure), the watch could be said to be the chiming watch purist’s dream.
The Ref 6301P Grande Sonnerie is the culmination of several chiming accomplishments, beginning with the technical mastery achieved in the creation of the Ref 5175 Grandmaster Chime, the actual first grand sonnerie wristwatch from the manufacture (and to date still its most complicated wristwatch). The Ref 6301P is a descendant of that grand dame, with its brand new calibre GS 36-750 PS IRM developed as a spinoff of the Grandmaster Chime’s calibre 300. With a whopping 703 parts, the new calibre is both remarkably compact and complex—on top of being beautiful to behold, of course.
The most exceptional part about this watch is its striking chimes, which are a result of Patek’s characteristic three-gong configuration. Most other chiming systems use two gongs. The third gong adds an extra dimension of technical complexity to an already challenging complication—all three gongs must be of identical size and mass to guarantee a uniform strike, and cannot touch each other, the case or movement to prevent possibly muddling the sound or damaging the movement. Plus, when you consider the amount of mechanical energy needed to operate a triple-gong grande sonnerie—which strikes 1,056 times in 24 hours—you get a sense of the technical mastery that went into creating this watch. (For reference, the caliber GS 36-750 PS IRM does have two barrels to store the energy needed for a full 72-hour power reserve.)
The Ref 6301P also introduces two new patents associated with its chiming functions—a silence mode isolates the grand sonnerie from the power flow and eliminates its energy consumption, while a second allows the selection of the exact strikework mode—grande sonnerie, petite sonnerie, or minute repeater—using a single lever and slide switch. Previous mechanisms required two levers and switches.
(Related: Introducing The First Patek Philippe Watch In 2020: A Rare Calatrava In Stainless Steel)
Its final patent comes from the jumping seconds display visible at 6 o’clock, which Patek has never before paired with a grande sonnerie. The new jumping seconds uses a new wheel and lever system that unlocks the wheel train at the top of every second, making its energy consumption easier to regulate and control.
Of course, all these technical accomplishment would be for naught if the watch were also not beautifully cased and dressed. Its 44.8mm platinum case—a material that makes chiming watches even more acoustically complex to create—is beautifully crafted, with impeccably finished rounded contours and a concave bezel. The dial is made in black grand feu enamel with applied Breguet numerals and two power reserve indicators at 3 and 9 o’clock, identifying the sonnerie and movement power reserves respectively.
In essence, the Ref 6301P is a singularly unique chiming watch from the grandmaster of chiming watches. And for that reason alone, we can imagine that watch collectors the world over will be clamouring to get their hands on it.
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