Patek Philippe rare arts watches

From now until June 26, Patek Philippe is holding the “Rare Handcrafts 2020 – 2021” exhibition at its Geneva salon, located within its historic headquarters on the Rue du Rhone. As part of this special event, the brand has also unveiled six new timepieces from its current collection, which have been given artistic updates with different forms of hand decoration, such as engraving, grand feu cloisonne enamel, grand feu champleve enamel, grand feu flinque enamel, guilloche and gemsetting. Here’s a closer look at each of these beauties.

1) Ref. 6002R-001 Sky Moon Tourbillon Haut Artisanat

Housing 12 complications including a cathedral-gong minute repeater and a perpetual calendar, the Ref. 5002 Sky Moon Tourbillon is Patek Philippe’s second most complex wristwatch, after the 20-complication Grandmaster Chime. In recent years, the double-faced watch has been made in a white-gold case with a blue enamel dial, and subsequently, in white gold with a black enamel dial.

Now, the 44mm by 17.35mm timepiece gets updated with a hand-engraved rose gold case and a brown dial with grand feu champleve enamel and grand feu cloisonne enamel. The artistic decoration involved is pretty impressive: The periphery of the dial, moon-phase display and the moon on the rotating disc are done in champleve enamel. This means that base metal must be removed such that elements like the minute scale remain in relief, or raised. The spaces are then filled with enamel.

The decoration at the centre of the dial was done using grand feu cloisonne enamel, which requires the outline of the design to be created using thin, flat gold wire, before the recesses are filled with enamel. Aside from the enamelwork, this watch is also the result of more than 100 hours of engraving: Its case, crowns, repeater slide and fold-over clasp feature elaborate engraving on all sides.

2) Ref. 5304/301R-001 Minute repeater with retrograde perpetual calendar

Combining a minute repeater with a perpetual calendar, the Ref. 5304 stands out with its transparent sapphire-crystal dial. The see-through dial affords a clear view of the day, month and leap year display discs, as well as the rest of the dial-side movement. While earlier versions featured a platinum case and a rose gold case, it is now presented as a high jewellery edition in rose gold. Eighty flawless Top Wesselton baguette diamonds are set on its bezel, lugs and fold-over clasp.

3) Ref. 5374G-001 Minute repeater with perpetual calendar

When it was launched in 2016, Ref. 5374 was presented in a platinum case with a black grand feu enamel dial. Now, the timepiece, which combines a minute repeater with two cathedral gongs and a perpetual calendar with analog displays, is released in white gold with a blue grand feu enamel dial.

Grand feu enamel dials boast exceptional, wear-resistant colour and luminosity. To achieve this here, a dial plate in solid 18K gold is covered with enamel, and fired at 850 degC. Typically, grand feu enamel dials require repeated firings to achieve their deep, uniform hue, and each firing increases the likelihood of cracks or bubbles. Adding just that extra layer of difficulty, the applied white-gold Arabic numerals necessitate the drilling of tiny holes in the hard but brittle enamelled dial, so as to hold the feet of the numerals.

4) Ref. 7040/250G-001 Rare Handcrafts Minute Repeater

Launched in 2011, the Ref. 7000R-001 Ladies First Minute Repeater is a slim, highly understated complex timepiece in a rose gold case with a cream-coloured dial. Replacing this model is the new Ref. 7040/250G-001, with a dial that’s decidedly a lot more elaborate, and slightly larger dimensions of 36mm by 10.14mm (as compared to its 33.7mm-wide predecessor).

Flinque enamelling is the main technique employed here: An undulating sunburst motif is first guilloched by hand on a gold dial plate. The engraved dial is then covered with transparent blue enamel, which creates a rich, translucent wash of colour that allows the decorative pattern to shine through.

This timepiece also features an interesting Flamme gemsetting technique. While setting the 168 flawless Top Wesselton brilliant-cut diamonds on two rows on the bezel, the gemsetter uses a burin to cut notches in the gold between the stones, allowing more light to pass through each stone from below.

5) Ref. 5738/51G-001 Golden Ellipse Haut Artisanat

If the new Ref. 5738/51G-001 Golden Ellipse looks somewhat familiar, it’s because it bears a strong resemblance to a platinum model released in 2018, to mark the 50th anniversary of the Golden Ellipse collection. This latest version, however, is housed in a white gold case and features a slightly different, and also very beautiful, floral decoration.

Firstly, recesses are created on the 18K gold dial plate, which are then filled with black grand feu enamel using the champleve enamel technique. The areas that are left raised are then engraved with swirling, vegetal motifs.

6) Ref. 7118/1450G Nautilus Haute Joaillerie

In April, Patek Philippe presented a rose gold version of its latest high-jewellery women’s Nautilus. Now, it is following up with a version in white gold, which like its rose-gold sibling, is covered in diamonds in a random pave (or snow) setting.

The Ref. 7118/1450G is fully set with 2,553 flawless Top Wesselton brilliant-cut diamonds weighing more than 12.69 carats. The stones are placed using random pave setting, which means the gemsetter places diamonds of differing sizes next to each other, while minimising the amount of space between all the stones. Each timepiece, which requires exceptional technique as well as experience and intuition, is therefore one of a kind.