Accompanied by original accessories and presented in exemplary condition, this Sky Moon Tourbillon, purchased by the present owner at the Patek Philippe Salon in Geneva in 2015, now provides a singular opportunity for collectors to obtain an example of one of the greatest Patek Philippe contemporary masterpieces without delay.
Among Patek Philippe’s most intricate and impressive creations, the reference 6002G seems to effortlessly combine immense mechanical complication with amazing aesthetics and readability. This inspirational double-face Grande Complication with hand-made blue cloisonné and champlevé enamel dial was launched in 2013 to replace the first Sky Moon Tourbillon model, reference 5002, launched in 2001 and formerly the most complicated wristwatch in the world. Boasting 12 complications, reference 6002G is housed in an extraordinary sculptural 44mm. white-gold case entirely hand-chased and engraved with almost three-dimensional elegant scrolls which takes Patek Philippe’s master craftsmen over 100 hours to achieve. The exquisite blue dial is made from a gold disc decorated by the master artisans of Patek Philippe’s Rare Handicrafts division with both cloisonné and champlevé enamel in a foliate design to harmonize with the decoration of the case. In this superlative horological work of art, rare handcraft skills are combined with a mechanical tour-de-force, representing the very highest level of watchmaking and artistry.
SKY MOON TOURBILLON
The complications of the 6002G include an acoustically superb minute repeater with two ‘cathedral’ gongs, and a tourbillon. The front dial indicates the hours and minutes of standard time (mean solar time) and displays the perpetual calendar with a retrograde date, months at 3 o’clock, days of the week at 9 o’clock, leap-year indication at 12 o’clock and moon phases at 6 o’clock. The second dial displays the astronomical functions with star chart of the northern sky, hands indicating sidereal time, extremely precise moon phases showing the rising and setting orbit of the moon. The case features two crowns, the lower crown for winding and the setting of the hour and minute hands, the upper crown for setting the sidereal hands, starscape and moon’s orbit.
The main complications of reference 6002G; minute repeating, tourbillon, retrograde perpetual calendar, moon phases and sky chart are all historic inventions from the history of horology that Patek Philippe has striven to continually develop and improve over many decades. Today these complications are not only at the peak of precision and perfect function but here they are combined together in one timepiece – a spectacular display of the greatest watchmaking genius.
The Perpetual Calendar
One of the most useful and revered watchmaking inventions of all time, it is credited to the Englishman Thomas Mudge who made a perpetual calendar watch in 1762, the mechanism not only self-adjusts for the number of days in the month but also calculates the correct adjustment for the leap-years. Patek Philippe was unsurprisingly very early in using the perpetual calendar in wristwatches with the references 1518 and 1526 being the first serially produced perpetual calendar wristwatches by any manufacturer.
Invented and patented by the genius watchmaker Abraham-Louis Breguet in 1801, the tourbillon is one of the most enduring technical improvements to timekeeping precision and has been continually improved to extreme degrees. In a tourbillon, the entire escapement revolves so that any adverse effects on timekeeping caused by the watch’s position – up, down, sideways etc, is equalized. The tourbillon is also a very visually appealing complication and it has become an important feature of many of the great modern complicated wristwatches. Patek Philippe watches never exhibit the tourbillon carriage through a dial aperture, fearing the lubrication oils will degrade with exposure to light. To the casual observer the only distinction is the word ‘Tourbillon’ on the dial, indicating the presence of one of the most complex and fascinating mechanisms in the world of horology.
The Minute Repeater
One of Patek Philippe’s specialities since the very beginning, immediately after the foundation of the company in 1839, the first quarter repeating pocket watches were produced, followed shortly after by the earliest minute repeater in 1845.
First invented by the German maker Benedict Fürstenfelder in the first years of the 18th century, improved and developed by Thomas Mudge in London c.1750 and then by Abraham-Louis Breguet in Paris, the minute repeating function which strikes the hours, quarters and minutes on demand was always regarded as an exceptional feat of watchmaking. Requiring perfectly tuned coiled steel gongs, this fascinating mechanism is one of the most difficult complications to execute and among the greatest of horological challenges, especially when miniaturized to fit within the confines of a wristwatch. In the 1920s, with the advent of wristwatches, most prominent clients of Patek Philippe asked for extraordinary watches such as repeaters, calendars or chronographs. Among all those, the repeating complication was regarded as the ultimate and of course the most expensive. Indeed, only around a dozen minute repeating wristwatches in total were manufactured by Patek Philippe from the mid-1920s to the end of the 1930s. The great collector Henry Graves Jr., famed for his pursuit of uncompromising watchmaking excellence, commissioned and owned three minute repeating wristwatches by Patek Philippe which illustrates clearly their status as an ultimate expression of watchmaking skill.
By the 1960s, the minute repeater wristwatch had fallen into obscurity. However, in 1989, Philippe Stern decided to reintroduce minute repeaters into production as part of the company’s 150th anniversary celebrations. This decision proved to be a masterstroke and since that time Patek Philippe has always included minute repeaters in their regular production, leading the way in their continued development. Around 200 to 300 hours of work is necessary to assemble a minute repeater movement and only the most experienced master watchmakers are permitted to undertake this task. Over the years, Patek Philippe has gone to enormous lengths to achieve perfection in the sound of its minute repeaters. To this end, the company has worked in collaboration with the Federal Polytechnic School of Lausanne (Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne - EPFL) and the Geneva School of Engineering where experimentation with alloys took place in order to find an ideal formula for a metal that creates superb sound qualities for Patek Philippe repeating gongs. In the reference 6002G Sky Moon Tourbillon, two extra-long ‘cathedral’ gongs provide an astonishing richness and clarity. Almost twice the length of ordinary gongs, both coil around the movement twice.
Just like the finest musical instruments, all minute repeating watches have a unique melodic sound and individual character. Indeed, it is a fascinating fact that no two Patek Philippe minute repeating watches sound exactly alike, even watches of the same reference, cased in exactly the same way show small differences in tone and sound transmission. It is well-known and much appreciated by clients that every single Patek Philippe minute repeater is personally checked by the President himself before it is allowed to be released from the manufacture.
The Sky Scape & Sidereal Time
The second dial of reference 6002G displays an exceptionally detailed and accurate map of the night sky in the Northern Hemisphere. An elliptical contour surrounds the portion of the nocturnal sky that is visible from a specific location. This patented module has a transparent crystal disk rotating once per sidereal day which is the basis for the sidereal time display with two hands and 24-hour scale. The sky chart also depicts the angular motion of the stars and of the moon, the meridian passages of Sirius and of the moon, and the waxing and waning moon phases. The disk is driven by means of teeth on its circumference, concealed from view by the bezel, comparable to the mechanism of ‘mystery’ clocks. The Patek Philippe Sky-Moon mechanism represents an extraordinary horological achievement, offering an incredible degree of precision in the depiction of the celestial canopy.
The use of sidereal or ‘star time’ is customary for watch dials with celestial indications, instead of the sun, a distant star is used for reference. The 24-hour sidereal day is 23 hours, 56 minutes and 4 seconds, just under four solar minutes shorter than a standard solar day. Sidereal time is a time scale that is based on Earth’s rate of rotation measured relative to the fixed stars, or more correctly, relative to the March equinox. Viewed from the same location, a star seen at one position in the sky will be seen at the same position on another night at the same sidereal time. This is similar to how the time kept by a sundial (Solar time) can be used to find the location of the Sun. Just as the Sun and Moon appear to rise in the east and set in the west due to the rotation of Earth, so do the stars. Both Solar time and sidereal time make use of the regularity of Earth's rotation about its polar axis: solar time follows the Sun while, roughly speaking, sidereal time follows the distant fixed stars on the celestial sphere.