Patek Philippe World Time Minute Repeater Ref. 5531R
Patek Philippe minute repeaters are as musical as their world timers are iconic. With the Ref. 5531R, the two complications have been merged for the first time in the manufacture’s long, illustrious history. At first, this might sound like yet another exercise in ‘complications mix-n-match’ for the sake of a new product, but the Ref. 5531R is in fact much, much more than that – the two complications actually synergise in a way that is unprecedented.
Until now, minute repeaters with a world time function could only chime home time as previously defined by the crown. This is because the two complications operated independently of each other. An acoustic local time indication requires the world time display with the rotatable city and 24-hour rings to be mechanically coupled with the chiming mechanism. The Calibre R 27 HU within the Ref. 5531R gets around this issue by having the hour snail of the minute repeater mechanism continuously driven by the timezone wheel of the world time mechanism.
Another innovation found in the minute repeater mechanism of the Ref. 5531R enables it to strike the time displayed on the dial at the end of the chiming, not at the start. For instance, if you activated the minute repeater function at 5:59:50, you would hear 6 hour strikes (instead of 5 hour strikes, 3 double strikes and 14 minute strikes) for 6:00 because that would be the time when the chiming is completed. Given the continuously rotating hour snail in repeater mechanism of the Ref. 5531R, this becomes a much more complex process than if it were a conventional minute repeater.
The minute repeater function also features a safety mechanism whereby the world time mechanism is blocked during chiming. In other words, while the delicate snails, racks, wheels and levers are engaged, no timezone adjustments can take place. Additionally, as is the case for all Patek Philippe world time watches, adjustment of local time with the pusher at 2 o’clock does not negatively impact the rate of the movement.
A further patented modification separates the Ref. 5531R from the rest of Patek Philippe’s minute repeaters: its two gongs are attached to the case band instead of the plate of the movement. According to Patek Philippe president Thierry Stern who personally assesses the sound of each minute repeater prior to delivery, this change is warranted as “it perceptibly improves the acoustic experience of this new and very extraordinary grand complication.”
The 18K rose gold case features skeletonised lugs and a sharply slanted bezel. The repeater slide along with the case band are decorated with Patek Philippe’s signature hobnail motif. In contrast, the pathway for the slide is horizontally satin-finished. The dial is made of 18k gold and German silver. Its centre features a small work of art: a cloisonné enamel depiction of the Lavaux wine region with a lateen-rigged boat that has set sail. Incidentally, the Ref. 5531R is the first Patek Philippe minute repeater to be decorated with cloisonné enamel.
It is worth noting that the Ref. 5531R was actually first introduced at Patek Philippe’s Art of Watches Grand Exhibition in 2017 as a limited edition of 10 pieces, 5 with enamel dials depicting Manhattan by day, 5 with enamel dials depicting Manhattan by night. The Ref. 5531R unveiled at Baselworld 2018, the watch in review, will be part of the regular collection. The watch is worn on a hand-stitched shiny chocolate brown alligator strap with large square scales, secured with an 18K rose gold fold-over clasp. Due to the fact that this is a highly technical ‘grand complication’ piece, the Ref. 5531R will be limited in production and also an application piece. The ransom? CHF495,000.
• Cloisonné enamel center, Lavaux landscape
• 18K gold dial plate and 24-hour ring
• Rose gold
• Case and slide piece with hand-guilloched hobnail-patterned decoration
• Skeletonized lugs
• Diameter: 40.2 mm
• Height: 11.49 mm
• Humidity and dust protected only (not water resistant)
• Interchangeable full back and sapphire-crystal case back
• Alligator with square scales, hand-stitched, shiny chocolate brown
• Fold-over clasp
• Caliber R 27 HU
• Minute repeater with classic gongs
• Local time strike
• World Time
• 24-hour and day/night indication for the 24 time zones
• Diameter: 32 mm
• Height: 8.5 mm
• Number of parts: 462
• Power reserve: Min. 43 hours – max. 48 hours