Mastering the minute

Discover the essence of perfection woven into Patek Philippe watches, where every intricate detail tells a story of dedication and precision in its fine workmanship.

What separates a decent watch from a truly splendid one is a zealous attention to detail. At Patek Philippe, hand-finishing is an immutable tenet, as this manual refining of machine- produced components not only ensures flawless function and stunning aesthetics, but also adds a human touch to to the company’s exquisite range of rare, handcrafted timepieces.

Patek Philippe’s commitment to detail shines through the dials, the heart of a watch’s expression. One dial can take four to six months of work, with 50 to 200 operations, including decorative techniques such as enamelling, guilloche, and gem-setting. Despite the risks inherent in enamelling — where firing powdered glass at high temperatures can lead to cracked enamel or uneven colours — masterful execution yields vibrant, enduring hues that exude luminosity and richness when done perfectly.

Guilloche, another rare technique that Patek Philippe is committed to safeguarding, is used to engrave very straight or circular grooves to create a variety of intricate motifs that capture and reflect light, such as the “carbon” motif and hobnail pattern found on the Ref. 6007G and Ref. 6119 respectively. And when combined with enamel, as seen in the Ref. 7040, it produces an entrancing and luminous effect.

Another way to decorate dials is to alter its pigmentation and grain by giving them a sunburst, vertical satin-brushed, sand-blasted or velvet finishing. Colours can also be applied via electroplating or varnish. For gem-set models, all precious stones are set by hand, and never bonded with an adhesive. Be it rubies, emeralds, sapphires, or diamonds, the gem- setter makes certain all stones are level, firmly secured, and precisely positioned for maximum radiance and lustre.

The same care is taken with the dial inscriptions and hour indicators. Inscriptions are delicately printed using a lithographic process called decalque or transfer printing, while some hour indicators are meticulously applied by hand. Crafted from 18k gold, all applied indices undergo faceting, diamond polishing, or chamfering to enhance readability. Finally, they are meticulously placed onto the dial using tweezers after a final polish.

Patek Philippe’s fine workmanship also extends to parts we don’t see — every component beneath the dials undergoes hand-finishing as well. This attention ensures not only immediate performance but also longevity. Chamfering and bevelling expertly refine edges to a precise 45-degree curve, while trimming eliminates machining remnants. The sinks (the holes in which screws, gemstones and wheels sit) are also made and polished by skilled watchmakers. Various components additionally receive traditional decorations, including circular satin finishes, Geneva stripes, mirror polishing, and straight or circular graining.

Tying it all together are the case and bracelets, which Patek Philippe also goes to great lengths to perfect. A single case requires about 20 specialists performing 50 different operations, each one finally hand-finished to file away metal residue, solder attachments, and adjust the case hinges and openings (where applicable) for a smooth fit. Guilloché can often be found on ornate case backs, but also on the bezels of models like the Ref. 6119. Cases can be gem-set or engraved, with the most elaborate examples of the latter taking up to a week. Patek Philippe uses the “free floating” technique to polish its cases, which is an ultra-fine method that creates smooth, damage-free surfaces. This method, however, requires considerable and time, patience, and skill — a gold case can take one and a half hours to polish, a bracelet up to two hours, and a platinum case four hours.

All of these efforts converge in the pursuit of crafting not just beauty, but ensuring utmost comfort and a demonstration of a lifetime of artistry and skills.

Find your next favorite piece at Emperor Watch & Jewellery

With a history of 80 years, Emperor Watch & Jewellery has continuously been working with renown luxury watch brands as the authorized retailer to a growing group of clientele in Singapore and the surrounding region. Find your next favorite timepiece at any of Emperor Watch & Jewellery boutiques, where a dedicated team is always on hand to provide their expertise.

Enquire about their availability at Emperor Watch & Jewellery boutique at voco Orchard.

581 Orchard Rd, The Shopping Gallery voco Orchard
#01-07/08, Singapore 238883
Tel: +65 6737 5227

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