Those who know about the Patek Philippe Grandmaster Chime must be well aware that it is the most complicated watch from the Swiss master horologist. No other watch from Patek Philippe holds a higher standard for complexity and craftsmanship. After the Grandmaster Chime, it is the Sky-Moon Tourbillon from Patek Philippe that takes the spot for the most complex watch from the brand. The Sky-Moon Tourbillon made its debut in the year 2001 and is celebrating its 20th anniversary in 2021.
The All-New Patek Philippe Sky-Moon Tourbillon
For this occasion, the has a grand total of 12 complications, including a repeater chiming on cathedral gongs, a display of sidereal time, and a perpetual calendar. The new watch is ref. 6002R-001 and it replaces its predecessor, the black enamel-dial 6002G-010, in Patek’s catalogue.
What’s So Special?
The new version of the Sky-Moon Tourbillon is technically the same model as the one that’s outgoing. So what’s so different about the timepiece? We’ll get to that in a bit.
The watch has displays on both the front and the back. Now, this does mean that the user will have to let go of the simplistic yet pleasureful option of being able to view the movement from the back. On the topside, you will be able to view the perpetual calendar, including the day, the date, and of course, the retrograde month display. You also have the mean civil time and the moon phase. The watch also has an indication displaying where you are in the Leap Year cycle. Amazing, right?
On the back, you have the night sky display as seen from the Northern Hemisphere. You know, I have always wondered whether you can order a watch from Patek Philippe with the night sky from the Southern hemisphere. For the amount of money that one will have to spend on this watch, that option better be available.
The part inside the oval is actually portion of the sky that is visible above the horizon. There is a compass with points as well, to help direct you. The orbit as well as the moonphase are displayed as well. The hands indicate the “star time.”
Finally, the list of interesting complications comes to an end with the ever so grand minute repeater which can be activated by a slide on the side of the case.
Sidereal Time Vs. Solar Time
The star time or sidereal time is actually of no practical use to the watch wearer, unless he or she is an astronomer. Sidereal time is different from actual time or ‘solar time’. solar time is the time we use for our daily activities. It is the amount of time that Earth takes to make one rotation around the sun. Sidereal time, on the other hand, is the amount of time that the Earth takes to come back to the same position in relation to the given star in the distant universe.
Now, you need to understand that the solar time varies according to the position of the Earth in relation to the sun. when compared to sidereal time, the solar time is a little longer by about 5 minutes. This is because the Earth is rotating as well as revolving around the sun. However, when it comes to other stars, they are so far away that it does make a difference.
Attention to Detail
The outgoing version of the Patek Philippe Sky Moon Tourbillon came in white gold. The new model, however, comes in rose gold. It largely duplicates the engraving seen in the previous watch. Adding to the engraving, a couple of different enameling techniques are implemented as well. The dial periphery and moon phase aperture are done with the help of a technique known as champlevé. The technique consists of a metal which is hollowed out and then filled with enamel prior to firing. The inner part of the dial is decorated with the help of cloisonné enamel. The technique used here consists of shaping flat gold wires into various forms. Enamel is then filled into the resultant cells.
In the words of the brand itself, it takes 100 hours to execute the engravings. That’s a lot of hours. Additionally, thanks to the use of red gold, the details are even more emphasized in this watch.
The Sky-Moon watch, to this day, remains one of the few that are absolutely unapologetic. It is one of the greatest creations in the Swiss Haute Horlogerie as well as in the entire luxury watchmaking world. The watch oozes authentic high-end Genevan craftsmanship.