In a category already known for its rarity and technicity, these minute repeaters stand out as true objects of wonder.
by Charmian Leong
PATEK PHILIPPE MINUTE REPEATER ALARM REF 1938P-001
When you’re a Stern, birthday gifts can come in the form of horological treasures. On the occasion of Philippe Stern’s 85th birthday, his son Thierry (also the current president of Patek Philippe) announced a beautiful tribute in the form of the Minute Repeater Alarm Ref. 1938P-001.
Limited to just 30 pieces, the 41mm platinum case encircles a black Grand Feu enamel dial embellished with a miniature painting of Stern senior’s face. But the homage is more than just cosmetic. The R AL 27 PS movement combines a minute repeater with an alarm for the first time and is based on the R 27 calibre that Philippe launched for the brand’s 150th anniversary in 1989.
The base calibre required 227 additional parts and four new patents to ensure the smooth functioning of both chiming mechanisms. The alarm can be set via the crown and the rose gold hand, and a bell-shaped aperture at 3 o’clock will indicate which chiming mode the watch is in — black for the repeater, red for the alarm, and white for a pending alarm.
Thoughtfully, the alarm has been made to go off two minutes before the programmed time to ensure an extended array of chimes. For instance, if set for 3 o’clock, it will ring at 2:58, delivering 21 strikes instead of just three.
The officer-style case back has an engraved message that reads in French, “To my father, 85 years of watchmaking passion.”, and Philippe’s signature can also be found engraved and enamelled on the movement’s rhodium-plated yellow gold rotor.
A. LANGE & SOHNE ZEITWERK MINUTE REPEATER IN HONEY GOLD
Harder than platinum and gleaming with a hue that lies between pink and white gold, the brand’s proprietary gold alloy is reserved for only its most exclusive models. The latest to receive this coveted metal is the Zeitwerk Minute Repeater, previously available in platinum and white gold. This grey-dialled honey gold beauty is limited to just 30 pieces.
VACHERON CONSTANTIN LES CABINOTIERS MINUTE REPEATER TOURBILLON — TRIBUTE TO ART DECO STYLE
Breathtaking handcrafts have always been the calling card of the Les Cabinotiers collection, and this new piece unique is no exception. 110 wood veneers have been assembled on two levels to create a radiating motif that celebrates the Art Deco style. Herringbone motifs continue the theme on the 18k pink gold case middle, lugs, and bezel. Such delicate marquetry required a full month to complete.
AUDEMARS PIGUET ULTRA-COMPLICATION UNIVERSELLE RD#4
With 40 functions and 23 complications (including, of course, a minute repeater) stuffed into a case just 42mm by 15.5mm thick, it stands to reason that the RD#4 took the Aiguille d’Or (grand prize) at the recent Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Geneve (GPHG). The self-winding calibre, made up of over 1,100 components, incorporated the technologies perfected in the previous RD watches, and therefore took seven years to develop.