In Perfect Harmony

Discover Patek Philippe’s expertise in chiming watches

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An Illustrious Patrimony

More than just technical marvels, each Patek Philippe minute repeater represents a keenly protected legacy that dates to its very year of founding.

In 1839 – the very year it was founded – Patek Philippe sold a timepiece with a quarter repeater. Steady advancements in the brand’s striking complications’ sophistication followed.

They included the half-quarter repeater, the five-minute repeater, and finally the minute repeater itself, which was then miniaturised further to fit inside a Patek Philippe wristwatch in 1924.

Famous personalities in the past who owned Patek Philippe chiming watches include nobleman Duke of Regla, automobile manufacturer James Packard, Ralph Teetor, the inventor of cruise control, banker Henry Graves Jr., and many others luminaries.

Beyond just developing the expertise necessary to produce minute repeaters, Patek Philippe also needed to retain its highly specialised institutional memory in this area.

This was especially challenging during the Quartz Crisis in the 1970s, when mechanical watches and movements, let alone high complications, were rapidly falling out of favour with consumers. The brand’s then president Philippe Stern resolutely maintained the production of minute repeaters at the manufacture, albeit in reduced numbers. Patek Philippe has always taken the long view, and Stern’s tenacity in the 1970s has kept the production of minute repeaters largely uninterrupted.

This continuity has paid off handsomely on hindsight, given the brand’s proficiency in the segment today.

The final arbiter of whether a new minute repeater makes the cut is the brand’s president, Thierry Stern. It’s an unusual arrangement, but one that makes perfect sense given Patek Philippe’s family-run nature, where the president is the steward of a legacy that must be carefully protected and passed onto the next generation.

The President’s approval

It takes years to develop an ear for the nuances of the timbre, cadence, and other such properties of a minute repeater, but the work to pass on this knowledge has already begun. In the same way Philippe Stern handed over the baton to Thierry, the same is being done to the next generation of the family.

“We have a very pure and crystal sound. You should not hear the mechanism as this can affect the quality of the sound. The length of the sound, the beauty of it, its pitch, tone, purity and the precise arrangement between the hours, quarters and minutes. That’s what we call harmony – the harmony of the watch has to be perfect.”

– Thierry Stern
The sound of every repeater watch is recorded and filed in Patek Philippe’s archives. Click to listen to a recording that represents the “Stern family’s ear” – the true benchmark of perfect harmony.

Every minute repeater is presented by its watchmaker, with the sound engineer and director of the high watchmaking department also present. The recording happens before the final sound test with Thierry Stern. Each watch is placed in a sound proof chamber from which the minute repeater chimes are recorded and their sound waveforms analysed against previously approved and archived chimes. This ensures a consistent acoustic framework for all Patek Philippe minute repeaters.

Thierry Stern explains how every single Patek Philippe minute repeater bears a unique acoustic signature:

Sounding the Gong

How Patek Philippe makes its gong is just one way of demonstrating how exacting the watch maker is with its minute repeaters.

Comprising one or more steel wires attached to a block-like component (called the boss), anchored to either the case middle or movement plate, the gong’s perceived simplicity belies its production’s complexity.

The laborious task of fine-tuning is the culmination of all the previous steps, as well as the most challenging one, demanding up to 100 hours for a single watch. The process involves changing the pitches of the gongs by shortening them, with the goal of making their notes harmonise and resonate with each other.

At Patek Philippe, over 20 pairings of different gong diameters have been developed to produce the sets of high and low notes. It is up to the watchmaker to select the best one that matches a specific watch given its characteristics.

Like how the choice of a string set affects a violin’s tone, the selection of a gong set here broadly defines the sonority of the minute repeater. The result, however, is a sweet melody that only a Patek Philippe minute repeater is capable of conjuring.


Many of Patek Philippe’s minute repeater watches are also stunning examples of artisanal beauty, decorated in traditional artistic techniques that have been painstakingly preserved by the watchmaker. Here are the latest minute repeater launches that further exemplify its expertise in combining watchmaking artistry with rare watchmaking metiers d’art.

Ref. 5750P

A culmination of more than a century’s worth of know-how in striking complications, the new Ref. 5750P “Advanced Research” Fortissimo Minute Repeater features a new sound amplifying and diffusion system comprising a flexible suspended sound lever, a sapphire-crystal oscillating wafer and a titanium ring with four openings. The result? A watch that delivers a distinctly louder and totally harmonious sound regardless of the case material. On the dial, an open worked spoke-type décor inspired by the wheels of vintage automobiles demands for attention. Contrasting beautifully against a snailed black nickel-plated base, the same motif is repeated on the small seconds disc, as well as the platinum micro rotor on the reverse side. Offered in platinum and in 15 pieces only.

Ref. 6002R-001
Ref. 5304/301R-001
Ref. 5374G-001
Ref. 7040/250G-001

Every Minute Counts

Jeremy Lim, CEO of Cortina Watch, on the  value of a Patek Philippe minute repeater

What’s remarkable about Patek Philippe minute repeaters?

What do Cortina’s watch collectors recount most when they talk about Patek Philippe minute repeaters?

Your thoughts on the recently released models featuring minute repeaters.

Discover Patek Philippe At CORTINA WATCH

PARAGON #01-13
Watch & Jewellery Director
Candice Chan
UX Designer
Paolo rodriguez
Additional Text
Jamie Tan