Anyone with the least interest in horology will be aware that venerated watch brand Patek Philippe has brought its much-beloved Watch Art Grand Exhibition to Singapore. Not only is this the largest Grand Exhibition of the five to date, but it also showcases truly spectacular pieces, some of which have never been seen at other exhibitions. Here, we select some of our favourite must-see pieces to look out for on your visit to the Grand Exhibition:
The Calibre 89
This pocket watch held the title of world’s most complicated portable watch for 25 years. It was created in 1989 for Patek Philippe’s 150th anniversary, and has a total of 33 different complications and 1,728 parts. The complications include a perpetual calendar, grande and petite sonneries, minute repeater, as well as an Easter calendar and several astronomical indications.
The watch was sold in a limited edition of four. The one displayed at the exhibition is a fully functional prototype that was assembled, finished, and regulated especially for this Grand Exhibition. It is the first time that the public will be able to see a fully functional Calibre 89. For that matter, it’s the first time the Calibre 89 has ever ventured out of the Patek Philippe Museum in Geneva.
Queen Victoria’s Pendant Watch
Queen Victoria herself was said to have been captivated by Patek Philippe’s beautiful watchmaking, and owned a number of the brand’s watches. This lovely specimen was presented to her at the Universal Exposition in London in 1851.
It houses Patek Philippe’s own 13’’’ movement, with a white enamel dial. The case has a bouquet of rose-cut diamonds set into a blue enamel background, which is surrounded by delicate gold engraving work. The watch is exhibited next to another owned by Queen Victoria adorned with similar floral motifs.
The Esplanade – Singapore Dome Clock Ref. 1677M
This table clock was created especially for Singapore’s SG50 celebrations in 2015, and showcases Patek Philippe’s complete mastery over its rare handcrafts — enamelling, in this case.
The process of enamelling is painstaking. Not only does each colour have to be indvidually mixed using powdered glass, the enamel paste then has to be fired in a kiln at high temperatures. This application and firing cycle can be repeated up to 12 times in order to achieve the rich colours desired by the artisan. Plus, the entire process is extremely unforgiving — the slightest speck of dust, uneven application, bubbling, or cracking means that the entire piece of enamel has to be re-done.
Star Caliber 2000
The Star Calibre 2000 was unveiled in to celebrate the turn of the millennium. The double-faced pocket watch is housed in a beautifully engraved half-hunter case, and has a total of six patents and 21 complications all brought together for the first time in a pocket watch.
Most amazingly, the Star Calibre 2000 was also the first watch of its size to have a five-gong Westminster chime complication that reproduces the complete melody of the famous Big Ben clock tower in London.
The movement has a total of 1, 118 parts, and its complications include a perpetual calendar, running equation of time, the times of sunrise and sunset, and a 24-hour day/night indicator.
Patek Philippe’s First Ever Wristwatch
The Ref. P0049 was the first-ever wristwatch made by Patek Philippe, and dates back to the year 1868. As you can see, it is a ladies’ wristwatch; watchmaking connoisseurs will know that the first ever wristwatches were mainly produced partially as jewellery-type ornamentation pieces for women. Men mainly stuck to pocketwatches until certain historical events and activities required them to strap a watch onto their wrist.
This lovely specimen from Patek Philippe has a hinged gold case that encloses the watch face. The cover is enamelled in black and encrusted with rose-cut diamonds.
Patek Philippe’s Watch Art Grand Exhibition is on until the 13th of October at The Marina Bay Sands Theatres.
Admission is free, and visitors must first reserve tickets via this link.