Patek Philippe has a long history with female patrons and collectors, dating all the way back to the very first Swiss wristwatch that was ever created. As a brand with an incredible eye for refined crafts and sophisticated design, it certainly appeals to women of stature who appreciate these beautifully handworked timekeepers.
The Twenty~4 collection celebrates the confident modern woman who follows her pursuits fearlessly. With a fresh and contemporary design, the collection is both jewellery and fine timekeeping at its best. The Twenty~4 was created in 1999 specifically for women. It was designed for them, rather than a re-interpretation of an existing watch collection. But for collectors of ladies’ watches, there are many more interesting models to discover and acquire.
Technical And Artistic Elegance
When it comes to Patek Philippe’s high complication watches, the watchmaker goes out of its way to ensure that they are both aesthetically and technically sophisticated in style and design. This is especially discernible in the ladies’ watch models such as the Ref. 7040/250G Grand Complication Minute Repeater.
Chiming complications are some of Patek Philippe’s most dynamic designs. They require great technical skill to create, in the design of the movement and the aural quality of the watch. It’s also a watch that requires the personal attention of Mr. Thierry Stern, President of Patek Philippe, who approves each chiming watch that leaves the Manufacture. He confirms that the pitch and tone of this minute repeater meets Patek Philippe’s standards.
The Ref. 7040/250G is a stunning watch to behold, thanks to the use of two Rare Handcrafts on the dial: guilloché engraving and flinqué enamelling. The latter refers to translucent enamelling over a guilloched surface. On the dial of the Ref. 7040/250G, a swirling pattern is cut into the dial using a rose engine, then coated with enamel and fired in a kiln.
The watch is housed in a white gold case, with two rows of diamonds set using Patek Philippe’s Flamme technique that’s designed to enhance the brilliance of each stone by allowing more light to pass and reflect through the base and sides of the setting. The Ref. 7040/250G is equipped with the R 27 minute repeater calibre that’s self-winding, a quality that’s unusual for such a complication.
The High Art Of Enamelling
There are many enamelling techniques practiced in Patek Philippe, but none more so than cloisonné enamel. Using very fine brushes and gold wire, the artist creates an outline of a design, then paints it with enamel powder that’s mixed into a substrate. The enamel powder is made from metal oxides that give its colour. The dials are then fired up in a kiln, and the process is repeated typically up to 15 times to create the vivid hues you see.
Patek Philippe’s Ref. 5077/100R-059 takes the art of cloisonné enamelling to even more impressive levels. Inspired by the motif of a tropical forest (hence its name), the series of three watches features a delicate gradation of greens on the dial in up to 17 different shades. The most complex of these dials require up to 50 firings to perfect its design, and with each firing comes the possibility of cracking or breakage.
The watches are housed in rose gold Calatrava cases and set with diamonds on the bezels, lugs and prong buckles. In order to maximise the enjoyment of the dial, a simple two-hand display expresses the time. The watch is powered by the watchmaker’s reliable Caliber 240. The ultra-thin movement has a Spiromax hairspring and Gyromax balance, coupled with a micro-rotor that keeps its 48-hour power reserve maximised.
The Calibre 240 is one of Patek Philippe’s most robust and versatile movements, with multiple complications that can be added to it easily. The Caliber 240 LU CL C is the perfect example of this capability, with a rotating sky chart that reveals the actual view of the night sky over the year, along with the phases and orbit of the moon. Skeletonised hands reveal the time, with a calendar hand in red.
The elegant way the Ref. 6104R expresses the phases of the moon and orbit shows how much thought goes into the design of Patek Philippe’s most sophisticated models. The deceptively simple design of this watch hides invisible layers of sapphire crystal and gears that direct each movement on the dial, making the passing of time a ballet dance that’s choreographed perfectly and runs forever.
While the watch comes at a large 44mm, it’s styled in a unisex manner, with curved horns and a bezel set with baguette-cut diamonds in an invisible setting, and sapphire crystals that lie over each other to reveal the beauty of our night sky.
Another example of the flourish that Patek Philippe delivers its most complicated timepieces with is the Ref. 5160/500G Perpetual Calendar with Retrograde Date Hand. This watch combines a rarely seen Patek Philippe design – a retrograde date display – with additional windows on the dial to indicate the day, month and leap year at 9, 3 and 12 o’clock respectively.
A thoughtful detail in Patek Philippe’s perpetual calendars is how the watchmaker designs its displays to make the reading of the date natural. The day of the week is always shown on the left, so you can read the full calendar in a glance. In the case of the Ref. 5160/500G, this is housed in an officer-style case that adheres to the design of the Ladies’ Calatrava, with exposed screws on the sides of the lugs.
The case and dial are lavishly hand-engraved in a repeating pattern that’s based on a romantic expression of the fleur-de-lis, a logo that symbolises heraldry and royalty. Inspired by a watch that’s in the Patek Philippe Museum in Geneva, it takes one artisan hundreds of hours of work to perfect each case, and even the slightest error requires a complete start of the case or dial.
What’s more impressive is the movement that’s behind this watch, the Caliber 324 S QR is based on Patek Philippe’s Caliber 324 that powers its Twenty~4 Automatic watches. The self-winding perpetual calendar movement is uncommon but extremely important to ensure that you won’t have to reset the date every time you stop wearing it for a few days.
Exquisite Jewellery Watchmaking
High jewellery watchmaking is a genre of design that has a unique place in the industry. For some collectors, the type and creativity in gemstone use defines high jewellery watchmaking. At Patek Philippe, their designers aim to render watchmaking invisible but highly legible, while treating a high jewellery watch like a piece of jewellery to adorn the wrist.
From the manchette design of the Twenty~4 to the art deco style of the Gondolo, form has always been important in their high jewellery timepieces. The Gondolo Haute Joaillerie Ref. 7042/100G-010 uses round and square shapes to powerful effect in its design. The cushion case of the watch with gently rounded sides and edges flow into the curved and angled lugs of the watch. The bezel and lugs are set with baguette-cut diamonds. On the dial, the round display is emphasised with concentric circles of round diamonds, with trapeze-cut diamonds placed across rows to function as hour markers.
The bracelet of this watch really stands out, designed like a jewellery bracelet instead of standard links. Patek Philippe has opted for three rows of Akoya pearls mounted on central middle links all around, joined with decorative links that are themselves set with princess-cut diamonds. The interplay of rectangle, trapeze, round, square and diamond forms on the watch, using pearls and diamonds to create an effect of transparency and opaline nacre sheen, adds to its beauty. This is a watch inspired by the Art Deco era, styled with stones inspired by jewellery from that same period, and transformed into jewellery for the wrist that also tells the time.
More recently at Watches and Wonders 2023, Patek Philippe introduced a new Gondolo Serata Ref. 4962/200R which revives the design of the doubly curved case. This case has been likened to a couture gown by some, and a violin shape by others. Whatever you wish to identify it with, the Gondolo Serata is an incredible design.
The double curvature along the sides of the case, starting from the bottom and swerving in and then out again into the top lugs of the watch, keeps your eyes glued to the design of the watch. Housed in a rose gold case, it features a brown lacquered dial with a matte-finished floral motif that contrasts against the sunray brushed surfaces of the dial.
The case and lugs are decorated with 94 brilliant-cut spessartites, a rare garnet, and are arranged in two rows from the bottom of the case, to the top and across. They are set in a gradient ranging from cognac hues at both ends to light orange mandarin tones in the middle of the case. Both colours are the most coveted of spessartite colours. The watch is powered by Patek Philippe’s highly precise quartz Caliber E 15.
Patek Philippe continues to celebrate women with ladies’ watches that are inspiring, bewitching and dynamic.