Since 2005, Patek Philippe’s Advanced Research division has been turning out cutting-edge innovations in high horology. These have included work in the field of Silinvar, Patek’s silicon derivative, that in turn led to the development of new and improved components such as hairsprings and escapement systems. With each innovation, the Genevan manufacture launches a watch housing said components. The division’s latest watch release is the “Advanced Research” Minute Repeater Ref. 5750, which features a new movement with an amplification system with four patents.
Minute repeaters are totally in Patek Philippe’s wheelhouse (it made its first minute-repeater wristwatch in 1924) and the Ref. 5750 looks and sounds like nothing that has come before it. It can be heard as clearly as a classic minute repeater by a listener six times further away than usual, an achievement made possible by a new “fortissimo ff” amplifier module. The brand, however, reassures us that the brand’s famed sound quality — president Thierry Stern apparently personally listens to and approves each minute repeater that leaves the Patek Philippe manufacture — is not compromised by the increased volume.
Inspired by a gramophone, the Ref. 5750 features a module that works like a loudspeaker: Instead of a flexible membrane like that of a drum, the Ref. 5750 has a 0.2mm-thick sapphire crystal “oscillating wafer”, which is held in place by a steel sound lever connected at the other end to the gongs. When the hammers strike the gongs, the vibrations are transferred to the lever and then to the wafer, both of which amplify the sound.
Platinum is not typically used as a case material for minute repeaters because of its sound-muffling high density. But that was exactly why Patek Philippe chose to use it — to showcase how its new system works independently of the case, unlike typical minute repeaters. Interestingly, the hammers of the Ref. 5750 are also made from platinum instead of the usual steel, which was chosen because it helps to create sound that resonates longer.
On the front, the dial features a wholly new look with an openworked dial inspired by the spokes of vintage car wheels, which is echoed in the small seconds wheel at 6 o’clock. Backed by its technical innovations, the new aesthetic of the Ref. 5750 already feels like that of a modern classic.
Movement: Automatic calibre R 27 PS, with power reserve of 43 to 48 hours.
Case: 40mm (diameter) by 11.1mm (height) in platinum
Price: 590,000 Swiss francs (S$874,500); 15-piece limited edition