Looks can be deceiving: Patek Philippe's latest ticker appears simple, but it's really not
Patek Philippe’s first major technical launch of 2020 combines a grande sonnerie, petite sonnerie and a minute repeater, housed in a surprisingly simple-looking wristwatch.
The grande sonnerie (French for grand strike) is basically an upgraded minute repeater. While the latter chimes the hours, quarters and minutes only upon activation, a grande sonnerie chimes the hours and quarters automatically for the ultimate in aural pleasure, unless the mechanism has been put on silent mode.
Patek Philippe describes its latest timepiece as a “simple grand complication”, but the reality is far from it. Not only does the Ref. 6301P house the elaborate sound function of the grande sonnerie, it also features a petite sonnerie (that does not strike the quarter hours), a minute repeater (that strikes on demand), and a patented jumping subsidiary seconds.
It uses the Calibre 300 base movement of the Grandmaster Chime, first introduced in 2014, which was the first grand sonnerie wristwatch from Patek Philippe. However, the watchmaker describes its latest Ref. 6301P as a “grande sonnerie in its purest manifestation”.
While its predecessor featured 20 complications, Patek Philippe removed the alarm, travel-time mechanism, the day and date, and repeater mechanism for the Ref. 6301P.
It is, however, the first Patek Philippe Grande Sonnerie complication to feature an open caseback for a full view of its movement, the GS 36-750 PS IRM, which is made of 703 parts.
The simplicity of the timepiece comes in the form of its aesthetic. The timepiece is finished in an elegant platinum case, with a Grand Feu black enamel dial and Breguet-style Arabic numerals. Details on the case are stripped to the bare essentials. There’s a button on the crown for the repeater, and a slide in the case-band for selecting the strike mode.
The design draws inspiration from Patek Philippe’s Ref. 5370P split-seconds chronograph presented in 2015, which featured the same concave bezel and recessed, brush-polished case flanks. The Ref. 6301P Grande Sonnerie is worn on a hand-stitched shiny black Alligator strap with square scales and a fold-over clasp.
When it comes to the striking mechanism, the Ref. 6301P features three gongs, each respectively tuned to low, medium, or high, which come together to perform the wondrous “Patek Philippe chime” that’s coveted by connoisseurs.
Attached to the movement, the three gongs must not touch one another nor other parts of the case or movement despite the compact space in which they hover.
The hours are struck on a low-pitched gong, the quarter hours with a three-strike, high-low-medium sequence. The melody for the first quarter hour (15 minutes) sounds once, for the second quarter hour (30 minutes) twice, and for the third quarter hour (45 minutes) three times.
Each quarter-hour sequence is automatically preceded by the number of elapsed hours, and followed by the number of quarter hours. Thanks to the energy stored in the twin mainspring barrels of the strikework, this adds up to an impressive total of 1,056 strikes in 24 hours.
Who said that the wonders of watchmaking are only visual?