As part of the ongoing Rare Handcrafts exhibition, Patek Philippe has unveiled a collection of six models
Following up on last month’s Aquanaut release, Patek Philippe has unveiled a new collection as part of its Rare Handcrafts exhibition, which will run until 3 July 2021 at its headquarters in Geneva. As its title – also Rare Handcrafts – suggests, the six models in the collection are either grand complication pieces, or feature iconic artistic decorations, such as manual engraving, grand feu cloisonné enamel, grand feu champlevé enamel, grand feu flinqué enamel, manual guilloching and gem-setting.
Arguably, the jewel in the crown of this collection is the highly sought-after Sky Moon Tourbillon. Initially unveiled in 2001, this edition of Patek Philippe’s second most complicated wristwatch sports a rose gold case, combined with a brown Grand Feu enamel decoration. Along the circumference of the dial, the moon-phase aperture and the moon appearing on the disk are crafted using the time-honoured Grand Feu champlevé enamel technique, while the dial centre features a Grand Feu cloisonné enamel decor traced with a thin gold thread.
In a further display of artisanal craftsmanship, the case, crowns, slide piece and hour/minute hands, as well as the fold-over clasp, are entirely hand-engraved with volute and arabesque patterns. According to Patek Philippe, this takes their master engraver over 100 hours of work to complete. Paired with a patinated chestnut alligator leather strap secured by a hand-engraved rose gold fold-over clasp, the Sky Moon Tourbillon is delivered with a pair of matching, hand-engraved rose gold cufflinks.
Patek Philippe’s other rose gold-clad offering in the collection is also a visual and mechanical masterpiece, the Reference 5304R. Initially released in 2006 as the Reference 5104, it was Patek Philippe’s first Grand Complication with a transparent sapphire dial. In this iteration of the Reference 5304, Patek Philippe has enclosed its famed timepiece in a warm, rose gold case, with the bezel, lugs and and fold-over clasp embellished with 80 six-carat baguette-cut diamonds that highlight the sparkling dial-side view of the movement.
Similar to previous iterations of the Reference 5304, the skeletonised leaf-shaped hands in black lacquered white gold also provide a clear view of the movement, which features beveled and polished edges standing out against the the rose-gilt baseplate, with its circular-grained decor. The retrograde date display retains the iconic red half-moon, and the moonphase display is still located at the 6 o’clock position. To top if off, the case flanks and minute repeater slide piece are engraved with the “leaf” pattern found on previous iterations of the 5304 as well.
The clear, sapphire crystal case back also provides an opportunity to admire the exquisite architecture of the movement, especially the minute repeater mechanism. The off-center rose gold mini-rotor adorned with the same “leaf” pattern features rhodium-plated recesses – once again, evidence of the pride that Patek Philippe takes in its superior craftsmanship. Paired with a patinated black alligator leather strap, the Reference 5304R is the perfect embodiment of understated class.
The other two noteworthy models in the collection are the Reference 5374G and the Golden Ellipse, both of which are also facelifted iterations of previous releases. In the case of the former, it sports a new white-gold case instead of platinum, and a blue Grand Feu enamel dial, rather than a black one. Featuring a glazed finish, the dial is a prime example of rare handcrafts, standing out with its deep, intense colour and brilliance.
The 18K gold dial plate is hand-coated with enamel powder and melted at 850ºC, followed by the delicate step of piercing the hard yet brittle enamel to accommodate the the mounting for the white gold Breguet numerals. Paired with a shiny dusk-blue alligator leather strap and secured by a matching, white gold fold-over clasp, the 5374G is delivered with interchangeable sapphire crystal and solid case backs.
The above-mentioned Golden Ellipse is a work of mechanical art that reaffirms Patek Philippe’s technical and aesthetic mastery. First released in 1968, the current edition of one of Patek Philippe’s most iconic models comes in a polished white gold case, and a new dial decoration. In a combination of two age-old embellishment techniques,, the 18K white gold dial plate is first hollowed out to build the cavities designed to receive the Grand Feu champlevé black enamel, with the raised gold areas hand-engraved with floral motifs.
Once complete, the arabesque and volute patterns of the dial dovetails perfectly with the distinctive, curved silhouette of the Golden Ellipse. The new dial decor also highlights the perfectly-balanced proportions of the case, inspired by the “divine proportion” of some of humankind’s greatest architectural and artistic works. Paired with a hand-stitched, square-scaled black alligator leather strap, and a white gold prong buckle that matches the case silhouette, the Golden Ellipse retains its timeless style while featuring a new design.