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A Rare Patek Philippe Minute Repeating Wristwatch with a Unique Cathedral Gong and Perpetual Calendar

Patek Philippe watches epitomize the supremacy of superb craftsmanship and sublime engineering over mass-produced and mechanized manufacturing. The company has explained that they aim to capture and combine something you can see (the watch face) with something you can hear (the chimes of the hammer hitting the gongs inside the watch). Every watch is hand-made in Patek Phillipe’s Geneva workshop and hall-marked with the Geneva Seal.

The technical virtuosity of Patek’s master watchmakers is evident in each of the 467 individual parts that comprise the 5074R wristwatch. The elegant simplicity of its 28mm diameter face contrasts with the complex engineering required for the minute-repeating mechanism to function given the space constraints. A single watch takes hundreds of hours to hone to the closest level of perfection possible, an undertaking only trusted to a master watchmaker with at least 15 years’ experience, who can both beautifully craft and capture the harmonious sound that the 5074R is renowned for.

What makes the 5074R truly special is the minute repeater mechanism which is activated by a repeater slide situated on the left-hand side of the case (when looking at the face). When the slide is manually released, two small hammers inside the watch strike a gong in a specific pattern that allows the wearer to know the time without having to look at the watch. Hours, quarter hours and minutes are indicated by different pitches based on which of the two hammers hits the gong: one hour is marked with a single low pitch, one minute a single high pitch and one quarter-hour is registered by a double-strike sound of a high and low pitch. The longest pattern that can therefore be struck is at 12:59 which comprises 32 strikes: 12 strikes from the first hammer that produces 12 deep notes; three double-strikes or double-chimes of alternating deep and high hammers (to indicate 45 minutes); and then 14 strikes from the second hammer to produce 14 high notes. 

What makes the 5074R even more special is the innovation of a Cathedral gong which are extra-long gongs, double the length of regular gongs, made of a steel alloy. This length enhances the vibrancy and quality of the sound. It requires extraordinary skill to adequately place and space the gongs inside the mechanism; the watchmaker aims to achieve a perfect balance between the timbre of the sounds and the speed at which they chime for “truly exquisite tones”.

The face of the watch contains three subsidiary dials which show the date and day, the leap year cycle and month and moon phases. The watch has a self-winding movement when worn. Off the wrist, it has power reserve for between 38 and 48 hours. The watch’s perpetual calendar will run until 28 February 2100 when it will need to be adjusted because there is no 29 February that year. (A leap year is skipped if a year is divisible by 100 but not by 400). The watch has two case back options, one in 18k gold and one of sapphire crystal. 

The Patek 5074R minute repeater is famed for its attention to detail and purity of sound. The company is fastidious about taking their time before they release a watch for sale. The technical sophistication and dedication of producing a watch of this caliber is why it’s so rare, and why people wait years to be able to acquire one. This specific Patek Philippe remains in its original packaging and has never been worn.

Details and Specifications: 

Certificate of Origin: dated 6 March 2009. Comes with the certificate and a custom display box embossed Patek Philippe Geneva.

Reference: 5074R-001
Movement no.: 1906208/4442080 
Dial: Black
Case: Rose Gold

Caliber: R 27 Q
Diameter: 28 mm 
Height: 6.8 mm
Number of Parts: 467
Winding Rotor: 22k Gold Minirotor, unidirectional winding
Power Reserve: minimum 38 – maximum 48 hours
Vibrations / hour: 21,600 (3 Hz)
Hallmark: Geneva Seal (Patek Phillippe Seal)

Biography

April 2024 marks the 150th anniversary of the very first Impressionist exhibition that was organized by Pierre-Auguste Renoir and his close friend Claude Monet along with Edgar Degas, Paul Cezanne, and other artists. The exhibition was not well received by the critics but the artists who took part would become among the most significant and recognizable names of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. They remain so today, and because of this it is impossible to go back to that time when their works were so outside the mainstream, to appreciate just how groundbreaking they were. During his lifetime Renoir would find fortune and fame and be considered one of the greatest living painters, revered by Pablo Picasso and Henri Matisse, who both owned his works and felt his influence.

Renoir was born in 1841 in Limoges, a town about 250 miles (400km) south of Paris, and which had been renowned for its porcelain production since the 1770s. A few years after his birth his family moved to Paris. Unlike many of his contemporaries who came from decidedly middle and upper-class backgrounds, Renoir was born into poverty. His father was a tailor, his mother a seamstress’s assistant, and the young Renoir was forced to leave school aged 12 to find work. He was given a job at Lévy-Frères, a Paris porcelain factory, where he would decorate their wares in the style of the French Old Masters: Watteau, Boucher and Fragonard, all artists whose work was associated with a joyful frivolity. Renoir lived close to the Louvre, which housed the most astonishing collection of art from antiquities to present day. Its collection would become central to Renoir’s artistic development, especially once he received permission to sit and copy the ancient Roman sculptures, and the paintings of the Renaissance. He was enamored by those whose works were saturated by intense color. Entry to the Louvre was free and he spent many hours studying its treasures. He eventually received a more formal artistic education, in a drawing studio and in a school of fine art.

Renoir came of age at a time when he felt the tension between the avant-garde and the establishment. Compared to his contemporaries who had private incomes, Renoir needed to earn a living, and often used unpaid models in the form of his friends and fellow artists. In 1874 he helped organize the inaugural Impressionist exhibition in the studio of the photographer Nadar, at 35 Boulevard des Capucines in Paris (then called The Anonymous Society of Painters, Sculptors and Printmakers). This was a time of political, cultural, and technological flux in Europe: Renoir was conscripted for the Franco-Prussian War of 1870 (but did not fight) and photography was gaining preeminence and competing directly with the Fine Arts. Renoir was a proponent of the hand-made over the machine, and lamented what he saw as the lost system of historical artistic patronage. Eventually, with the help of his dealer Paul Durand-Ruel, and particularly recognition by the American audience who “didn’t mock us at all”, Renoir would become wealthy and famous.

As a person Renoir was extraordinarily social, craving the company of friends. He also desired to work alongside other artists, which some found intensely irritating, like Monet who preferred isolation. Renoir was also secretive, tended towards placatory behavior and would modulate his opinion to the circumstances. His biographer described him as “conflict-avoiding, double-talking … shrewd and even sneaky”. For much of his artistic career, he was not just seriously ill but also physically restricted. At the age of 47, in the late 1880s, he developed rheumatoid arthritis which progressively got worse. The effects of this inflammatory illness were debilitating, and his latter years were spent in a wheelchair where he painted despite his fingers unable to grip anything properly. His gnarled-up hands were bound with strips of cloth into which paintbrushes (and his ever-present cigarettes) were inserted by an assistant. Despite this, Renoir was extraordinarily prolific, described as a “body without a soul” if not working. He painted every day, producing well over 4600 paintings and other works of art over the course of his life.

Renoir’s painting style and especially the subject matter he focused on, changed significantly throughout his life, although certain themes and “types” preoccupied him: Genre paintings (everyday people in their everyday life), portraits, landscapes, and of course, and especially, his sensual nudes. In contrast to his failing body, Renoir’s art works rejected the obvious despair of his physical reality, and his paintings exuded a sense of joy and pleasure until the very end.