For Patek Philippe watch lovers, and all watch lovers, for that matter, you have just two days left to visit the mind-boggling Rare Handcrafts exhibit in Geneva. The exhibit opened on June 16 and continues through June 26 (Saturday). Don’t miss it or you will miss some amazing one-of-a-kind watches, as well as some brand new pieces unveiled this year.
“Every year the legendary Swiss watch brand Patek Philippe creates a host of one-of-a-kind watches that showcase the brand’s incredible expertise and prowess in some of the most difficult and diverse arts — always combined with high watchmaking of the finest quality, of course. The exhibit takes place in Patek Philippe’s historic headquarters on Rue du Rhone in Geneva, where more than 75 rare handcraft watches and clocks from its collection are on display.
The collection includes 70 carefully curated artisanal pieces from its 2020 releases, as well as six brand new editions that were created this year. Some are unique pieces, others are limited editions. In 2020, Patek Philippe had planned to release a particularly extensive collection of watches and clocks to showcase its artisan skills. The watches had been in the making already, but the pandemic curbed the ability to showcase them properly. Now, the Rare Handcrafts exhibit brings them to the forefront, along with the newest editions from 2021.
The artistic processes executed on these watches and clocks run the gamut from the fine and difficult art of engraving to grand feu cloisonné enameling (wherein gold threads are used to separate the colors of the enamel and add to the depth and drama of the piece), miniature painting, marquetry, gem setting, guilloche and more. Many of these crafts are centuries-old and have been passed down from generation to generation, and Patek Philippe is keen on preserving the arts. Often in its special pieces, the brand combines multiple arts, and sometimes turns to crafts inspired by other eras and countries, such as French Limoges enamel painting (using transparent enamel in repeated coats), relief enamel and Longwy enamel with black edges. The brand also constantly looks for new and innovative techniques, such as micro-marquetry with wood and other materials.
Six New Rare Handcraft Patek Philippe Watches
Among the new watches being shown for the very first time at the exhibit: the Ref. 6002R-001 Sky Moon Tourbillon Haut Artisanat hand-engraved rose-gold case with a brown dial in grand feu champlevé and cloisonné enamel. The double-faced watch is inspired by the Ref. 5002 Sky Moon Tourbillon the brand first released in 2001 and that was its second most-complicated wristwatch. More than 100 hours of craftsmanship went into the making of the manually engraved and enameled watch. The timepiece offers 12 complications, including minute repeater, tourbillon, perpetual calendar and moon-phase indications.
The Ref. 5304/301R-001 Minute Repeater with a retrograde perpetual calendar is also new. It features a transparent sapphire-crystal dial (inspired by a previous model from 2006) and an ingenious new system of transparent disks to display the day, month and leap year to allow a full view of the mechanical movement inside. The making of this self-winding caliber, and more succinctly, the placement of the crystal disks with steel arbors, required Patek Philippe to develop an exclusive, now patented, assembly process. The watch is crafted in 18-karat rose gold and set with 80 flawless Top Wesselton baguette diamonds weighing more than 6 carats.
Another perpetual calendar watch, this one combined with minute repeater, Ref. 5374G-001 offers sound via two cathedral gongs and boasts a stunning blue grand feu enamel dial with high-gloss finish. This watch replaces the previous Ref. 5374P-001 that was crafted in platinum with a black enamel dial.
Because Patek Philippe is a master at minute repeater watches (head of the company Thierry Stern personally listens to each and every repeater made in the workshops before giving his stamp of approval), the brand also unveils a new minute repeater for women. Ref. 7040/250G-001 features a blue grand feu flinqué enamel dial and a bezel with a Flamme® diamond setting boasting 168 flawless Top Wesselton diamonds. It replaces the previous rose gold version with cream-colored dial and is powered by the self-winding caliber R 27 S with a 22K gold mini rotor.
There is also a new Golden Ellipse Haute Artisanat watch, Ref. 5738/51G-001, that is crafted in white gold with a dial in champlevé enamel and manual engraving. The Golden Ellipse watch is special because of its oval (cushion-cornered) shape. The new version combines two very challenging arts to achieve its floral engraved and enameled motif. It is powered by the self-winding caliber 240 ultra-thin movement.
Never ignoring its beloved Nautilus, Patek Philippe unveils the Ref. 7118/1454G Nautilus Haute Joaillerie watch in white gold completely set with a snow setting that uses different sized diamonds that are seemingly randomly placed. The magnificent watch showcases the brand’s gem setting prowess and boasts 2,553 flawless Top Wesselton brilliant-cut diamonds on its case, bezel and bracelet. In total, it weighs more than 12 carats. The watch is powered by the self-winding caliber 324 S movement.
As mentioned, in addition to these new pieces, another 70-plus watches and clocks are on exhibit. The “Rare Handcrafts 2020-2021” event takes place at the Patek Philippe salons in Geneva on Rue du Rhône 41. It is open daily (except Sundays) from 11:00 am to 6:00 pm from June 16 to 26, 2021. Because of pandemic restrictions, visitors are urged to register in advance.
(This article by Roberta Naas was first run on her column on Forbes.com.)