Hands-On: Patek Philippe Complicated Desk Clock “Only Watch” Ref. 27001M-001

Classical luxury and novel mechanics.

Having set the record for the most expensive watch ever when the Grandmaster Chime ref. 6300A sold for CHF31 million at Only Watch 2019, Patek Philippe has created something entirely different for the 2021 instalment of the charity auction.

The Geneva watchmaker’s entry for Only Watch 2021 is the Complicated Desk Clock ref. 27001M-001, a tabletop timepiece inspired by a pair of historical clocks made in the 1920s for prominent American collectors.

The front of the clock opens to reveal the pushers for adjustment as well as winding and setting sockets

Initial thoughts

While Patek Philippe’s past creations for Only Watch were unique variants of existing models, the ref. 27001M desk clock is a unique model.

It also claims several “firsts”. The ref. 27001M is the only example of this reference ever created to date – and the first timepiece to be equipped with this movement – and also the first clock Patek Philippe has contributed to Only Watch. This makes the ref. 27001M truly unique against all of Patek Philippe’s diverse repertoire.

The inscription on the inside of the lid

Very much classical luxury in style, the ref. 27001M is an appealing timepiece. A couple of details could have been done better or removed altogether, like “The Only One” on the lower edge, but it is still a good looking object.

At the same time, it is mechanically interesting, since the movement is not only a 31-day calibre but also being used for the first time by Patek Philippe.

Though it only has a high estimate of half a million Swiss francs, it is highly likely it’ll reach the CHF10 million mark. This desk clock would be the perfect accessory to accompany the Grandmaster Chime ref. 6300A “Only Watch”.

A legitimate claim to fame

A look back

The ref. 27001M desk clock is modelled on a a similar but smaller desk clock made for automobile entrepreneur James Ward Packard in 1923 (case no. 601’324 and movement no. 197’707) that is now in the Patek Philippe Museum.

Like the Only Watch creation, Packard’s timepiece was in sterling silver and vermeil but without wood inlays. And it contained a eight-day movement featuring a perpetual calendar, a complication that’s been replicated on the ref. 27001M desk clock.

Packard’s desk clock

Interestingly, Packard’s clock is one of two such clocks in the Patek Philippe Museum. The other is identical in form and materials, but different in design and decoration. It was made for Henry Graves Jr., the banker who was ostensibly Packard’s rival in commissioning ever more complex timepieces from Patek Philippe and other notable Swiss watchmakers.

The ref. 27001M clock was evidently inspired by Packard’s clock. The broad forms and decorative details of both are similar, though the ref. 27001M looks distinctively different because it’s quite a bit larger – scaled up by about 20% – and also more elaborate due to the vertically-grained wood inlay.

Amongst the more apparent similarities is the triangular emblem below the face that served as the plaque for Packard’s initials on his clock. On the ref. 27001M, the golden leaves frame the Calatrava cross logo of Patek Philippe.

The gold parts on the case are vermeil, which is gold-plated silver

The ref. 27001M also takes after the Packard clock in terms of the dial layout. Proportions and scale have been tweaked, and some indications repositioned, but the overall aesthetic remains the same.

Time is indicated by a sub-dial at 12 o’clock, while the calendar is indicated in several windows and the sub-dial at six o’clock, plus the week-of-the-year scale on the circumference of the dial.

The red bracket indicates the week of the year

The two hands in the centre are ironic opposites of each other. The longest hand tracks the smallest unit of time – it’s the seconds hand – while the tiny, almost stubby hand is the indicator for the power reserve, which is 31 days or a full month.

The selector buttons below the dial are for adjusting the calendar – the “M” button for instance selects month adjustment, which is then carried out by inserting the key into the socket just below and turning

The calibre inside the cal. 27001M is the key-wound 86-135 PEND IRM Q SE. Patek Philippe hasn’t released images of the movement yet, so not much is known about it.

While definitely complicated, the movement is not likely to be a revelation in terms of mechanics; it will certainly be fairly conventional. But it is novel. For one it’s a newly-developed calibre. And it has not been used in any other timepiece to date.

The sockets for winding the movement and setting the time

Key facts and price

Patek Philippe Complicated Desk Clock
Ref. 27001M-001

Diameter: 16.46 cm by 12.5 cm
Height: 7.63 cm
Material: Silver with fittings of vermeil and inlays of American walnut

Movement: 86-135 PEND IRM Q SE
Time, perpetual calendar, moon phases, week-number display and power-reserve display
Power reserve: 31 days

Limited edition: Piece unique
To be sold at Only Watch on November 6, 2021
Estimate: 400,000-500,000 Swiss francs

For more, visit Onlywatch.com.


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