Specialist Picks • 25 Aug 2019
Watches From The 2017 Patek Philippe Watch Art Grand Exhibition
Patek Philippe has been curating their highly acclaimed international watch exhibitions since 2012. It all started in Dubai with the inaugural Watch Art Grand Exhibition and was followed the next year in Munich with the Grand Exhibition KunstWerkUhr.
In 2015 the Genevan watchmakers set themselves up in London to exhibit at the Saatchi Gallery, and in 2017 they crossed the Atlantic for The Art of Watches Grand Exhibition in New York. Of course, the Watch Art Grand Exhibition opens its doors in Singapore next month. This gives us the perfect opportunity to take a look back at two outstanding timepieces released at the previous exhibition in New York – who knows what will be in store for Singapore, only time will tell.
World Time in New York
Patek Philippe played a pivotal role in the development of the world time complication. A growing appetite for intercontinental travel between Europe and the US – particularly between London and New York – was a big motivation to create a watch which catered for the time zone crossing cosmopolitan. It seems to make complete sense therefore, that for the New York exhibition Patek Philippe decided to release some exceptional special edition world time watches.
To start, there was the World Time Ref. 5230 New York 2017 Special Edition. What strikes you immediately when looking at the watch is the blue embossed representation of the Manhattan skyline at the centre of the dial. The stunning outline of the city simply makes you envious not to call New York home – I only wish they could produce a special edition featuring the skyline of my city! Inside the 38.5mm white gold case there operates a very clean and legible depiction of the world’s 24 time zones.
Hour and minute hands tell the local time and the 24-hour disk rotates to display the corresponding time at each of the 24 cities – from New York to Noumea, every city name is written in a blue font which provides an elegant sense of continuity with the blue of the 24-hour disk, the blue of the skyline motif and the blue of the alligator leather strap. Consistent with other Ref. 5230 models, the New York 2017 Special Edition is wound by the micro-rotor in the Calibre 240 HU and externally features winglet lugs and a time-zone adjusting pusher at 10 o’clock.
The contrasting yet complementary colour combination presented the New York audience with an emblematic complication in a clean, refined and contemporary aesthetic – a truly tasteful addition to the brand’s historic line of world time watches.
Except that was not all in terms of world time watches. Naturally, there are brilliant moments of ingenuity in the watch world, and one of which was the release of the World Time Minute Repeater Ref. 5531 New York 2017 Special Edition.
The minute repeater and world time complications epitomise the very essence of Patek Philippe, but the Ref. 5531 was the first example of those two complications working together under the same dial to be able chime the selected local time of any chosen reference city. On the dial, the iconic New York skyline again features prominently and centrally. However, this depiction of Manhattan is executed in the painfully meticulous rare handcraft of cloisonné enamel.
Charmingly, of the 10 models produced, 5 illustrated the city by day and the other 5 by night. 42mm of exquisite rose gold makes for a formidably impressionable timepiece. That said, keeping in mind the outrageous level of complication that ticks inside with the Caliber R27 HU, I dare say it outwardly retains a comparatively remarkable sense of subtlety, restraint and even humility. Above all else, its unveiling was a pioneering accomplishment which masterfully portrayed the symbiosis of engineering and art.
Next Up Singapore
For those drawn in by the allure of the world time complication, for those who admire horological artisanship, and for those just cannot help but marvel at what a manufacturer like Patek Philippe is able to accomplish, The Art of Watches Grand Exhibition in New York would have been an absolute delight. Of course, also presented to the exhibition attendees in 2017 were rare handcraft pocket watches, the Pilot’s Calatrava Ref. 5522 and the women’s diamond encrusted World Time Ref. 5230. Although in the context of the exhibition’s New York location, it is undeniably the world time releases which symbolically stood out the most.
Given the importance of the relationship between Henri Stern and the American commercial capital at the time of the burgeoning jet age, a revitalisation of the most cosmopolitan of watches was rather fitting. So what might we expect for Singapore? What sort of special editions will be released in 2019? I suppose all we can do is wait until our clocks tick over to the 28th of September!
Patek Philippe Watch Art Grand Exhibition in Singapore
Running from the 28th of September until the 13th of October Patek Philippe will be hosting the Watch Art Grand Exhibition at the Sands Theatre (Marina Bay Sands). Taking place during the Singapore Bicentennial year, the Grand Exhibition underlines the importance of Singapore and Southeast Asia for Patek Philippe. These markets are not only significant when it comes to the numbers of collectors and enthusiasts based in the region, they also play a major role in building an appreciation for the work of fine mechanical watchmaking. For more information click here.