For some collectors, minute repeaters are the most fascinating of watches. With just a click of a button, they chime the time, with a lower tone for hours, a slightly higher tone for quarter minutes and, lastly, a higher tone for those wanting to know the exact minute.
For example, imagine that it’s 3:18. Your minute repeated will chime three times for three hours, once for 15 minutes and three times for three minutes.
It is a remarkable complication, but what’s even more incredible is that it is not a modern creation. Minute repeaters date back as far as the 1600s. Back then, they hardly made a sound – it was more of a vibration which only allowed the wearer to know the time if they were holding it in their hand. This served as a discreet way for those at court or in the presence of someone important, to discreetly check the time.
It also allowed people to tell the time during the hours of darkness – long before luminous displays were invented and which now feature on most modern watches.
Patek Phillipe created its first minute repeater way back in 1839 and was in fact found in a pocket watch. It wasn’t until 1924 when the manufacture managed to incorporate this intricate technology into a wristwatch.
Since then, Patek Philippe has created an array of different references – offering any dedicated minute repeater enthusiast quite the choice. That said, they usually come with a high price tag and are one of the rarer watches on the market.
These days you can also choose between two types of sound – the cathedral gong or the normal gong – the former a more elongated sound.
Additionally – no Patek minute repeater leaves their factory until head of the company Thierry Stern personally listens to and approves the sound made.
Perhaps the most intriguing of all however, is the fact that no two-minute repeaters made by the Swiss watchmakers will sound the same. Each will be tuned ever so slightly differently – giving each watch what Patek describe as a ‘fingerprint’ offering the owner real pride and authenticity in their piece of timekeeping brilliance.
In terms of their engineering they are nothing short of incredible – and can take up to two years to be made with each one having to meet Patek Philippe’s incredibly high standard for quality of movement.
These watches are truly something special – and their individuality and function really set them apart from anything else out there.