Up Amongst the Stars: Patek Philippe’s Reference 6002G

Cultural Perspectives • 18 Jun 2019

Up Amongst the Stars: Patek Philippe’s Reference 6002G

We know that Patek Philippe is famed for their complications. Boasting a formidable collection ranging from industry-leading world timers to beautiful yet baffling perpetual calendars, there is a Patek complication to suit any wrist under the sun – or stars. With the Reference 6002G Sky Moon Tourbillon, the esteemed Genevan manufacturer pairs painstaking precision with extravagant embellishment to revisit and revive a timepiece that is both technically and aesthetically astounding. Mind you, should the watch community expect anything less?

High Complication

An extraordinary amount of detail and complexity strikes you all at once upon first viewing this watch, so let us start by addressing the technical details. No fewer than 12 complications operate inside the 44mm white gold case of the Reference 6002G. One dial could never possibly provide enough space to fit that many functions, and so Patek duly opted for two.

On the front side can be seen one of the most sophisticated calendar complications: the perpetual calendar with a retrograde date. Being a perpetual calendar, the watch keeps track of the day, date and month whilst also taking into consideration leap years. On the Sky Moon Tourbillon, the date is indicated by a hand which, come the beginning of each new month, snaps back across the dial to the start thanks to the retrograde mechanism. The day, leap year cycle and month are indicated inside individual apertures located at 9, 12 and 3 respectively.  Present on the front dial is also a simple but elegantly integrated window for the moon phase.

Turning the watch over will reveal a second dial on which hour and minute hands display sidereal time on a 24-hour scale alongside a sky chart and the orbit of the moon – more on sidereal time shortly. Beneath the dial hides the tourbillon, where the escapement sits inside a cage which completes a rotation once each minute in an attempt to mitigate the effect of gravity on timekeeping accuracy. Inside is also found all the components necessary to bring to life a minute repeater that produces a charming and delightfully crisp tone – the time-indicating chime is a classic touch from Patek and one indeed pioneered by the company in 1845.

Caliber R TO 27 QR SID

The manually wound Calibre R TO 27 QR SID LU CL movement will be familiar to attentive devotees of the manufacture as it is the same as that used in the Reference 5002. Consisting of 705 parts and oscillating at a frequency 3 Hz, the movement allows for a power reserve of up to 48 hours.

Artistic Tradition

From a technical perspective, the Sky Moon Tourbillon is nothing short of outstanding and stands as one of the finest examples of horological endeavour. From an aesthetic perspective, it embodies an extravagance that has been executed with painstaking artistry and unequivocal luxury. The white gold case assumes a sculptural quality in that it has quite literally been hand carved to create an utterly captivating work of swirling ornamentation. To produce such decoration from solid gold requires more than 100 hours of dedicated artisanal expertise which is then subject to rigorous inspection and meticulous scrutiny – even President Thierry Stern must provide his nod of approval. Embellishment continues from the case, along the minute repeater slide and crowns, and finally to the dial where cloisonné enamel adorns a black dial which contrasts strikingly against the gold applied numerals. Every surface is decorated to exude a sense of tasteful opulence that ultimately acts to complement the technical mastery of the timepiece.

The artistic prowess displayed on the Reference 6002G is undoubtedly a dutiful homage to the Genevan tradition of rare handcrafts. These skills are somewhat ancestral in spirit and are a watchmaking legacy that Patek Philippe views as their duty to uphold with absolute reverence. Rare handcrafts are those decorative arts in watchmaking which range from engraving and guilloché to miniature painting which have been practised by Genevan artisans since the 1600s. The exquisite enamelling and engraved finesse exercised on the watch is testament to an artistic legacy which the manufacture has inherited and faithfully preserved – to this pursuit of excellence, the Sky Moon Tourbillon is no exception.

Time to Tell

As promised, an explanation of the sidereal time must follow in order to properly appreciate just how complex the timepiece really is. Time, as we perceive it today, is standardised by measuring a passing second according to the oscillation of an atom: to be precise, one second is the equivalent of just over 9 billion oscillations of a caesium atom. Historically, however, there have been various means by which to give numerical order to the day. Most watches operate according to mean solar time which, as the name suggests, is determined by the position of the sun in the sky.

For more on how to set the Sky Moon Tourbillon

Sideral dial of the Patek Philippe Henry Graves Jr. Supercomplication (Credit: Sotheby’s)

The front dial of the Reference 6002G, for example, relies on this measurement. Flip over the watch and the second dial displays sidereal time. Instead of measuring according to the sun, sidereal time derives its scale based on the rotation of the Earth relative to the stars. That is why as the hands work around the 24-hour scale on the 6002G (as on the Henry Graves Jr. Supercomplication, above and below), the star constellation underneath will rotate accordingly. Is the addition of a sidereal time complication to this timekeeping masterpiece from Patek necessary for practical purposes? Absolutely not. Yet it is the addition of these such touches of horological and artisanal extravagance which combine to makes this reference so alluring, so exceptional and so prestigious.

“The sky chart composed of a champlevé blue enamel over gold stars à paillons depicting approximately 450 stars and a magnificent representation of the Milky Way, the whole of the night sky for the exact longitude of Mr. Graves’ Manhattan apartment overlooking Central Park on Fifth Avenue, three sunken subsidiary dials for times of sunrise and sunset in New York”  (Credit: Sotheby’s)
Tags: patek philippe

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