The new Patek Philippe 6301P has the distinction of being described by the company as a “simple grand complication,” an oxymoron if there ever was one. Patek Philippe says the new ref. 6301P is its “purist manifestation to date” of a grande and petite sonnerie. The “simple” in the definition is partly a reference to the movement from which it is derived, the caliber 300 in the Grandmaster Chime, a 20-complication watch launched in 2015 to celebrate the brand’s 175th anniversary. That movement was also used in the commercial version of the anniversary watch, the 6300. By comparison, the new 6301P has only six complications. Still.
The 6301P’s preeminent pair of high complications are the grande and petite sonneries. The remaining four include the dual power reserve indications (one for the strikework and the other for the movement), the minute repeater on demand and the jumping seconds at 6 o’clock. The jumping seconds complication was in turn derived from another 175th anniversary piece, the 5275, a minute repeater with a jumping hours – the mechanism was modified to become a jumping seconds, also called a “deadbeat” seconds, another oxymoron considering that compared to the seconds hand on traditional mechanical watches, it is very much alive, since you can see it jump every second. The train of developments that went into this new movement, building on the developments of previous inventions, is a great example of why, in high mechanical watchmaking, heritage matters. And no brand has a more distinguished one than Patek Philippe.
The 44mm case is platinum, and while Patek Philippes in that material are usually distinguished by a diamond set into the caseband between the lugs at 6 o’clock, in this watch, that position is taken up by an innovative slide switch that adjusts for the petite sonnerie, grande sonnerie and silence operating modes. Thus, in this watch, the diamond is positioned on the caseband at 12 o’clock instead.
The movement has two mainspring barrels, which give it a power reserve of 24 hours for the strikeworks and 72 hours for the movement, indicated respectively at 3 o’clock and 9 o’clock. The dial is grand feu black enamel, with Breguet applied numerals in white gold, and leaf-shaped hands with luminescent coating.
The 6301P uses three classic gongs – low, medium and high. The hours are struck on a low-pitched gong, the quarter hours with a three-strike high-low-medium sequence. Each quarter-hour sequence is automatically preceded by the number of elapsed hours and followed by the number of quarter hours. This adds up to an impressive total of 1056 strikes in 24 hours. A grand sonnerie chimes the hours and quarter hours on each quarter hour, but not the minutes. It can be switched to a petite sonnerie, which chimes the hour only at the top of each hour and the quarters on each quarter. The minute repeater, which does chime the minutes, is activated on request using the pusher in the winding crown.
The 6301P is priced “upon request” but to give you an idea of what Patek Philippe repeaters fetch on the secondary market, note the prices of the following Patek Philippe striking watches that sold over the weekend at the Phillips Geneva Auction XII and Retrospective auctions (none of which have grande/petite sonnerie functions): $1,579,570 for a ref. 3974 perpetual calendar with minute repeater in platinum; $1,324,106 for a ref. 5531/1R pink gold minute repeater/world time; $658,052 for a ref. 5316/P platinum minute repeater/perpetual calendar/tourbillon. The 6301P grande and petite sonnerie, being more complicated and with a new movement, is more than likely to exceed these prices.