Seven Watches to See at Patek Philippe’s Grand Exhibition Singapore

And almost 400 more.

Starting this weekend, the theatre inside Singapore’s Marina Bay Sands resort will become home to the epic, 16-day Patek Philippe Watch Art Grand Exhibition, the biggest and longest such event ever staged by the brand. Open from 28 September to 13 October, the enormous showcase of horological artefacts and prowess will take visitors through the company’s history while delving into its many innovations and milestones.

Divided into 10 themed rooms, the exhibition will present a comprehensive array of timepieces spanning centuries, including the first ever perpetual calendar wristwatch, as well as legendary grand complications like the record-setting Calibre 89.

Some 400 timepiece will be on display – all detailed in a hardbound catalogue that will be sold to benefit charity – and here are seven highlights of the show that are worth a second look.


The first perpetual calendar wristwatch

Although the distinction of inventing the first perpetual calendar watch goes to English watchmaker Thomas Mudge, who created it in 1762 – and the Patek Philippe Museum owns one such Mudge creation – it was Patek Philippe that built the first ever perpetual calendar in a wristwatch, back in 1925.

Patek Philippe First Perpetual Calendar Wristwatch

It was a one-off creation powered by a movement dating to 1898. Initially developed for a women’s pendant watch, the compact calibre only found a home 27 years later inside the landmark wristwatch.

Crucially, it was also an instantaneous perpetual calendar, with calendar indications that jump instantaneously at the stroke of midnight, rather than creeping forward slowly, as in conventional calendar watches.

Patek Philippe First Perpetual Calendar Wristwatch-1

Measuring just 34.4mm in diameter, the watch was sold in October 1927 to American collector Thomas Emery, and today is one of the crucial watches explaining Patek Philippe’s history in its museum.


Calibre 89

The monumental Calibre 89, which for over 25 years was the most complicated timepiece in the world, was created to mark Patek Philippe’s 150th anniversary in 1989. Built as a set of four identical watches in different cases – one each in white, rose and yellow gold, as well as platinum – along with one prototype, the Calibre 89 was not only major moment in the history of the brand but also in revival of interest in complicated watches.

Patek Philippe caliber 89

Developed over nearly a decade, the watch had 33 complications – nine more than the Henry Graves Supercomplication – including the equation of time, grande and petite sonnerie, perpetual calendar, and even the date of Easter. As a result, the Calibre 89 is made up of a staggering 1728 components in all, including 24 hands, 184 wheels and 332 screws.

Patek Philippe Caliber 89-1

Patek Philippe Caliber 89-2

Though first sold as a set of four watches, the Calibre 89s were eventually split up and sold individually, with the most recent example sold being the yellow gold example that was offered by Sotheby’s privately in 2018. But the two examples that did sell at auction in the previous decade – the white- and the yellow-gold versions in 2004 and 2009 respectively – remain amongst the 10 most expensive watches ever sold publicly, both achieving well over US$5m.

The watch on display at the exhibition is the yellow gold prototype from the Patek Philippe Museum.


Star Calibre 2000

To mark the new millennium in 2000, Patek Philippe introduced the Star Caliber 2000, a double-sided pocket watch with 1118 parts that included 21 complications and six patented mechanisms. It was significant not only for its sheer number of complications, but also for its fascinating combination of functions and ease of use, as well as the massive yet intricately constructed watch case.

Patek Philippe Star Caliber 2000-1

Patek Philippe Star Caliber 2000-3

The perpetual calendar is entirely synchronised with the equation of time and display of sunrise and sunset. It features a solar dial showing the hours, minutes, seconds, the running equation of time, perpetual calendar, sunrise and sunset, and the power reserve for the movement and chime, while the celestial dial on the back shows the movement of the nocturnal sky, lunar orbit, and moon phases. Most notably, it was the first pocket watch to reproduce the original Westminster Abbey chime for the grand and petite sonnerie, a feature for which a patent was filed.

Patek Philippe Star Caliber 2000-2

The Star Caliber 2000 is the third most complicated watch Patek Philippe has ever made, right after the Caliber 89 and the Graves Supercomplication, but it is the most recent.

It was produced in five sets of four watches each. Four of the sets each consisted of a yellow-, white-, and rose gold watch, plus one in platinum, while the fifth set was composed of four unique platinum examples. In 2012, a single yellow gold specimen was sold at Christie’s for over US$3.5 million. A prototype of Star Calibre 2000 will be displayed at the exhibition.


Drum Watch

The exhibition also includes significant historical timepieces that predate Patek Philippe itself, such as this drum-shaped pendant watch made in Nuremberg in 1548 by clockmaker Caspar Werner. More of a historical artefact than timekeeper, the drum watch is an example of extremely early watchmaking.

Like most drum watches of the time, the case is made of gilt brass, engraved with a 24-hour dial in Roman numerals on the outer band and Arabic numerals in the inner one. Time is indicated with a single hour hand. On the outermost rim on the dial are raised circular markers that allow time to be read by the blind or in the dark.

Caspar Werner Drum Watch

 

Caspar Werner Drum Watch-1

Made of brass and iron, the movement is equipped with a verge escapement and a stackfreed  a primitive form of constant force mechanism found exclusively in German watches during the 16th century.

A predecessor of the fusée and chain and much simpler in construction, the stackfreed was essentially a cam mounted on the mainspring, engaged by a long spring-loaded roller arm. The roller exerts pressure on the cam that opposes the mainspring when the watch is fully wound. As the mainspring winds down, the cam slowly turns and relieves the pressure of the roller, thereby releasing its energy, aiding the mainspring when it is at its weakest.


The King of Siam Watch

In a section dedicated to Singapore and Southeast Asia is a pair of pocket watches made for King Rama V of Siam (1853-1910), also known as Chulalongkorn.

One is this gold, minute repeating pocket watch that features a white enamel dial with Roman numerals paired with ornate, gold hands, while the case is elaborately engraved, with a blue enamel royal monogram of the King on the back.

Patek Philippe King of Siam Pocket Watch

Patek Philippe King of Siam Pocket Watch 2

Records suggest the watch was first sold to the king in 1897. In 2004, it sold at Christie’s sold for US$57,360, to the Patek Philippe Museum, naturally.


The Peaches

Made by English watchmaker William Ilbery for the Chinese market in the early 19th century, this pair of watches – which were acquired by the museum at a German auction house recently – are fashioned in the shape of a peach, which is a symbol of health and longevity in Chinese culture.

Ilbery, along with James Cox, Bovet, Vacheron Constantin, and Pierre Jaquet Droz were some of the pioneering watchmakers who produced many watches catered to the rapidly growing Far Eastern markets of the time, primarily China but also the Ottoman Empire.

The Peaches

The case is painted with enamel in gently fading hues to resemble the fruit. It features two green enamel leaves lined with half pearls. The stem, forming a loop for the pendant, is also studded with half pearls of varying shapes and sizes.

The Peaches 1

The Peaches 2

The case band is decorated with a border of tiny half pearls. At the front of the watch is a white enamel dial with Roman numerals, while the case back opens to reveal a richly decorated movement with a duplex escapement.


Thai Ornaments Dome Clock

Characterised by a cylindrical body and a spherical top, Patek Philippe’s Dome Clocks are its signature tabletop timepiece. First introduced in the 1950s, the Dome Clock has remained in production since.

They are, however, extremely rare; only a dozen or so are made a year, and each is one-of-a-kind, richly decorated with artisanal techniques depicting varied motifs. This exceptionally striking black and gilt example was inspired by traditional Thai ornaments.

Patek Philippe Dome Thai Ornaments Clock 3

The clock body is completely decorated with cloisonné enamel in black and yellow, creating a remarkable contrast. The yellow portions are infused with spangles made of silver leaf to enhance the motif.

Patek Philippe Dome Thai Ornaments Clock 2

Patek Philippe, 20074M_001, Face

Yellow-gold wires are first applied to the metal base creating an outline of the intricate motif. Enamel powder is then deposed into the tiny compartments created by these wires before the enamel plate is fired in a kiln at a temperature of 745 °C. This process was repeated ten times to achieve the final result. Almost the entire clock is enamelled, save for the gold chapter ring that features black transfer-printed Thai numerals.


Exhibition information

Complimentary tickets to the Watch Art Grand Exhibition are available direct from Patek.com.

Watch Art Grand Exhibition
September 28 to October 13
Open daily 10am to 7pm
Admission is free

Sands Theatre, Marina Bay Sands
10 Bayfront Avenue
Singapore


 

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A. Lange & Söhne Introduces the Lange 1 Tourbillon “25th Anniversary”

Finally.

The road was long, but we have arrived: at the start of the year, A. Lange & Söhne kicked off the gradual launch of the 25th anniversary editions of the Lange 1. Made up of 10 different models, unveiled one a month, the series has now come to a conclusion with the final model – the Lange 1 Tourbillon “25th Anniversary”.

While all other watches in the Lange 1 family have remained in the catalogue since their debut, the Lange 1 Tourbillon was always a limited edition, making the last instalment of the anniversary series the rarest.

The model was first unveiled in 2000 in pink gold (250 pieces) and platinum (150 pieces), followed by a honey-gold version (150 pieces) a decade later to mark the 165th anniversary of Ferdinand Adolph Lange’s birth. Then the watch received the “Handwerkskunst” treatment in 2014 (20 pieces), giving it a platinum case and glossy, black enamel dial, resulting in a very desirable watch. And Lange also quietly produced a handful of one-off examples over the years, including a recent one for retailer The Hour Glass in Tokyo.

A. Lange & Söhne Lange 1 Tourbillon Handwerkskunst Enamel

Lange 1 Tourbillon Handwerkskunst

A. Lange & Söhne Lange 1 Tourbillon Handwerkskunst Enamel 3

The specially decorated movement of the Lange 1 Tourbillon Handwerkskunst

Interestingly, Lange 1 Tourbillon “25th Anniversary” marks the first time that the watch is produced in white gold. The case remains the standard size, 38.5mm wide and 9.8mm in height, also the same dimensions as the standard Lange 1. And like all prior 25th anniversary editions, it features a solid silver dial with blued steel hands and printed blue markings.

A. Lange & Söhne Lange 1 Tourbillon “25th Anniversary”3

A. Lange & Söhne Lange 1 Tourbillon “25th Anniversary”

Visible at five o’clock is the tourbillon regulator, which is secured by a black-polished steel cock carrying a diamond endstone. Crucially, while the tourbillon was partially hidden by the dial in the inaugural and Handwerskunst versions, the tourbillon is fully visible here, thanks to a wider aperture and a transparent printed date disc.

Because of its compact size, the arms of the tourbillon cage are broader than the those found in other Lange tourbillons such as the 1815 Tourbillon. It has black polished arms, without any anglage as a result of its size and shape.

A. Lange & Söhne Lange 1 Tourbillon “25th Anniversary” 4

Notably, it is a hacking tourbillon, thus when the crown is pulled out, the tourbillon comes to a halt. Lange was the first brand to introduce a hacking tourbillon in 2008 with the Cabaret Tourbillon. Today, only two other brands within Richemont group boast such a tourbillon – IWC and Montblanc.

The movement uses a traditional balance wheel with timing screws on the circumference as opposed to the weights found on Lange’s in-house balance wheels. It is attached to hairspring that was produced in-house.

A. Lange & Söhne Lange 1 Tourbillon “25th Anniversary” 5

Because of its blue printed numerals, the date disc is prominent, aptly drawing attention to Lange’s patented big date mechanism. At the time of its relaunch in 1994, Lange was the first brand to introduce a big date display in a wristwatch.

Two discs were needed to fit the large numerals in a 38.5mm case – a circular one for the ones and a cruciform for the tens. In contrast to a regular date wheel which typically consists of three components, Lange’s instantaneously jumping outsized date requires a total of 66 parts.

A. Lange & Söhne Lange 1 Tourbillon “25th Anniversary” 8

Visible through the sapphire case back, the hand-wound cal. L961.4 features a three-quarter plate with an “island” bridge. It is equipped with double barrels for a three-day power reserve.

A. Lange & Söhne Lange 1 Tourbillon “25th Anniversary”A. Lange & Söhne Lange 1 Tourbillon “25th Anniversary” 7

A. Lange & Söhne Lange 1 Tourbillon “25th Anniversary” 6

The cocks for the tourbillon and intermediate wheel feature the same anniversary engraving as found on the earlier commemorative editions, filled in with blue lacquer. The cock for the intermediate wheel also incorporates a reproduction of the outsize date displaying “25”.

The Lange 1 Tourbillon “25th Anniversary” thereby completes the 10-piece set, which will be delivered in a special box if purchased as a set.

The complete set of the A. Lange & Söhne anniversary edition LANGE 1 "25th Anniversary", consisting of 10 models, in a specially made box.


Key facts

Diameter: 38.5mm
Height: 9.8mm
Material: 18k white gold
Water-resistance: 30m

Movement: Cal. L961.4
Functions: Hours, minutes, sub-seconds; power reserve indicator; outsize date; tourbillon
Winding: Hand-wound

Frequency: 21,600bph, or 3Hz
Power reserve: 72 hours

Strap: Crocodile with white gold pin buckle

Price and availability

The Lange 1 Tourbillon 25th Anniversary (Ref. 722.066) is limited to 25 pieces and is priced at €165,000. The 10-piece 25th Anniversary set is priced at €833,600. For more, visit A. Lange & Söhne.


 

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Industry News: Louis Vuitton Unveils Trophy Case for E-Sports World Championship

The League of Legends Summoner’s Cup.

The fact that e-sports – essentially competitive computer gaming – is a major phenomenon is hardly new. But now the world’s largest luxury brand is in on the action: Louis Vuitton just announced that it will build the trophy case for the Summoner’s Cup, the huge silver-plated chalice – weighing about 70lbs, or 32kg – that’s given to the winner of the League of Legends World Championship.

This marks the first foray of a major luxury house into e-sports, and elevates the League of Legends championship to equal footing with global and historical sporting events like the soccer World Cup.

louis vuitton League of Legends trophy 2

League of Legends is one of the world’s biggest multiplayer online games, with last year’s championship event watched live by almost 100m people. It’s set in a fantasy world, with players controlling a character that, along with teammates, battles the opposing team. The annual championship sees 24 teams from around the world compete for US$1m in prize money – and the giant trophy in a Louis Vuitton trunk.

louis vuitton League of Legends trophy 4

The game joins events like the FIFA World Cup, America’s Cup, Rugby World Cup, and French Open, all of which have had their trophies accompanied by a custom-made Louis Vuitton travel trunk. Like all the other trophy cases, the League of Legends trunk is constructed like a traditional Louis Vuitton trunk, with a wood frame covered in monogram canvas with brass fittings; the only being last year’s FIFA World Cup trunk that was made of polished titanium.

louis vuitton League of Legends trophy 3

Alongside the case, Louis Vuitton will collaborate with the League of Legends’ developer, Riot Games, to create champion skins, or virtual outfits game characters can wear. And it will soon unveil a thematic capsule collection of clothing and bags designed by Nicolas Ghesquière, the brand’s head of women’s collections.

Luxury houses like Louis Vuitton are typically at the forefront of trends, which means where Louis Vuitton goes, watchmakers will eventually, after a couple of years usually, follow. Stay tuned for the luxury wrist- or pocket watch becoming available for your fantasy character soon.


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