About the Patek Philippe Watches
A couple of days ago, I reported that the well-known minute repeater that Henry Graves Jr. commissioned from Patek Philippe in the 1920s is coming up for sale again at Christie’s Geneva on November 11. Apart from the fact that this watch has a ton of historical value — for Patek Philippe, for collectors, and, more generally, for watchmaking — it is also a watch that has a strong personal significance for me. You can read all about the replica watches here, but when it last went on sale in 2012, the story about it was how I made my career in the watch industry. So last week, when I had my first chance to see this legendary metal watch, you can bet I jumped at the chance.
Now, I’ll have to say that I was a bit worried as I walked through Rockefeller Center to Christie’s for the viewing. This was something of a meet-your-heroes moment: Would the watch disappoint? Would it be as cool as I wanted it to be? How did it sound?
The most striking thing about this replica watch is its thinness. I don’t have a precise measurement, but it’s not far off to call it ultra-thin. This makes it a bit tricky to handle on the wrist, but at this point, anyone wearing the watch wants refinement anyway. To be honest, I even feel silly writing this as a complaint, but you get the idea.
One of the watch’s symbols is the family crest on the dial. The graves coat of arms is still visible, just as it was in 1928, and as deep and bright as ever. I can’t believe that Henry Graves Jr. wore this watch too often, or at least not when he was doing anything too strenuous, since it looks like there’s been relatively little wear to the case back overall.
As far as the sound of the repeater goes, it sounds just like you would expect a high-end repeater from the turn of the 20th century to sound. It’s softer and a little higher pitched than most modern repeaters, and the small yellow gold case gives it a bit of resonance without it quite sounding airy. I’m admittedly not a minute repeater connoisseur, but I’d give the watch full marks here.
For me, one of the best things about the watch is the yellow-on-yellow case and dial. The yellow dial had a soft texture that is still ubiquitous, a perfect backdrop for black Numbers and rings, both of which are enameled to add a touch of gloss and depth. You may know little about watches, but you immediately know that this is something unusual. Its quality is obvious.