The single most amazing watch I have ever seen.

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The single most amazing watch I have ever seen.

Post by docrwm on Wed 18 Aug 2010, 11:36 pm



A Patek Philippe watch has done it again by blowing all other watches out of the water at auction. By all accounts, the auction results of the recently Only Watch 2009 watch auction in Monaco had lukewarm results at best for more than the just over 30 participating watches. Regardless, the top lot was this Patek Phlippe Ref. 5106 Heavenly Celestial watch with date. It fetched 535,000 euros. Almost double was the second top lot was (the Confrerie Horlogerie Les Masters La Clef du Temps Tourbillon watch - which received over 28,000 euros per word in its name, or rather 285,000 euros). For me it is no surprise that the Patek Philippe unique piece offerings stole the show. In better economic times, the price could have easily exceeded one million euros in my opinion, given how much a watch like this could appreciate in coming years. Still, the results for Patek Philippe are impressive, but predictable. Most watches in this year's Only Watch 2009 auction went for under 35,000 euros.

The Heavenly Patek Philippe Celestial with Date
Founded in 1839, Patek Philippe is the last privately owned independent Geneva watch manufacturer and one of the largest traditional watchmaking companies in the world. Relying on its extraordinary experience, Patek Philippe has cultivated a tradition of innovation crowned by an impressive portfolio of more than 80 patents. In creating its classically elegant watches, the company relies on latest-generation technology combined with ancestral watchmaking know-how. As Philippe Stern, President of the company confirms, “As an independent company, Patek Philippe enjoys total creative freedom to design, produce and complete what experts agree to be probably the finest timepieces in the world.”

On October 5, 2000, Patek Philippe unveiled the Star Caliber 2000, one of the most complicated pocket watches of all time, with an intriguing suite of astronomical indications. It was the first timepiece ever to present the exact configuration of the nocturnal sky with the apparent movement of the stars, the position of the moon, and its progressing phases within a lunar cycle. Six months later, the company’s engineers and watchmakers introduced the “Sky Moon Tourbillon” – a wristwatch-sized ‘grande complication’ for which the astronomical functions had to be further miniaturized and integrated on the reverse side of the timepiece. In 2002, the heavenly canopy was viewable on the dial side of the self-winding Celestial Ref 5102. This year, for Only Watch 2009, Patek Philippe created an exclusive new Celestial model Ref 5106 with astronomical indications on the dial side (as the previous model Ref 5102) and the addition of the date indication.

The unique Only Watch 2009 Patek Philippe Ref 5106: Celestial model in rose gold with date indication and exclusive guilloché pattern. Patek Philippe’s Ref 5106 Celestial selfwinding wristwatch features a large-format sky chart that indicates the nocturnal sky for the northern hemisphere which rotates counterclockwise on its dial showing the angular progression of the stars relative to the meridian passage of Sirius. At the same time, the display shows the angular position of the moon, its phases and meridian passage. The new exclusive model offers the useful addition of the date indication and an exclusive guilloche pattern on the bezel.

“We decided to create this unique watch for Only Watch 09,” says Thierry Stern, Vice President, Patek Philippe, “because astronomical indication watches remain among the rarest type of complications and are also one of the most intriguing ones. The sky and stars are a source of dreams and hope, hope for the better as made possible by the organization of Only Watch.”

“What first impresses you when you look at the watch, (other than its beauty),” says Sandrine Stern, Head of Creation at Patek Philippe, “is the luminosity and depth of the astronomical dial. It features hour, minute leaf-shaped openwork rose gold hands and a polished rose gold calendar hand with a half-moon sandblasted shaped tip to indicate the date on the perimeter of the dial. In addition to the date indication, it features the four points of the compass – north, south, east and west, and ‘PATEK PHILIPPE GENEVE’.”

The watch itself is in rose gold, the bezel in 22k rose gold, and the middle part of the watchcase and the back of the case in 18k rose gold. You may ask, “Why 22k?” The choice of 22k rose gold is due to the intricate and exclusive decoration on the bezel since 22k is much softer than 18k and so allowing the delicate decoration using a special hand guilloché tool made just for this watch.

The complex astronomical displays rely on a system of stacked sapphire crystal discs which rotate at different speeds and create a mesmerizing impression of depth. The celestial background is a blue sapphire crystal disc on a wheel with 279 teeth. This disc reproduces the orbit of the moon. Via a planetary gear train, it also drives a subsidiary sapphire crystal disc depicting the waxing and waning of the moon in a small round aperture. Above it, on a wheel with 356 teeth, is a transparent sapphire crystal disc which bears the sky chart on one side and an image of the Milky Way galaxy on the other. These three discs are protected by the sapphire crystal glass with an ellipse on the inside that frames the portion of the sky visible above Geneva. For this invention, Patek Philippe was awarded Swiss Patent CH 688 171 B5.

The movement of the Celestial is a masterpiece of precision mechanical engineering, composed of 315 individual parts that are painstakingly finished by hand. The edges of all steel components are beveled and polished and each tooth of each and every gear wheel is manually polished with a rotating hardwood disc. This degree of perfectionism reduces friction at the wheel contact points and contributes significantly to the high level of precision and longevity for which Patek Philippe watches have earned a reputation.

The self-winding watch draws its power from a mini-rotor recessed off-center in the movement. Even slight movements of the wrist are sufficient to supply the necessary winding energy, because the rotor is crafted from heavy 22k gold. For this reason, the movement is only 6.26 millimeters high, despite its complexity. The case, too, is remarkably slim.

Both the sapphire over the dial and the sapphire of the exhibition back of the case are anti-reflect treated to allow you to clearly see the astronomic indications and the oscillating mass that is engraved on the outer edge: “to Paul” – a very discreet engraving. This is the very first time that Patek Philippe has added a date to the Celestial wristwatch.

Technical specifications
The Unique Patek Philippe Only Watch 09
Ref 5106 Celestial with date indications
Movement 240 LU CL C
Indications Hours and minutes of local time (mean solar time), sky chart, time of meridian passage of Sirius, time of meridian passage of moon, lunar orbit, moon phase and date on perimeter of dial
Dimension 38 mm
Thickness 6.81 mm
Number of jewels 45
Number of parts 315
Winding rotor 22k gold mini-rotor, unidirectional winding
Balance Gyromax
Power reserve Approx. 48 hours
Case 18K rose gold for the case and 22k rose gold for the bezel
Dimension 44.2 mm
Thickness 11.15 mm
Water-resistant 30 m
Dial Three metalized sapphire crystal discs
Sapphire crystal glass with 31 metalized Arabic numerals as well as ellipse framing the portion of the sky visible from Geneva
Hands Hours and minutes skeletonized white-lacquered gold feuille hands
18k polished rose gold calendar hand with half-moon sandblasted shaped tip
Strap Dark blue hand-stitched crocodile leather
Clasp 18 mm prong buckle, 18k rose gold
Notes A lunar day is defined as the time between two consecutive passages of the moon across a specific meridian and on average lasts 24 hours, 50 minutes, and 28.328 seconds. A lunation – the time between two consecutive full moons – averages 29 days, 12 hours, 44 minutes, and 2.82 seconds.
A sidereal day is the time it takes for a fixed star (such as Sirius) to make one complete passage across a specific meridian and averages out to 23 hours, 56 minutes, and 4.09892 seconds.
These deviations from mean solar time call for appropriate step-up or step-down transmission ratios in the gear trains that transfer the force from the mainspring barrel of the movement to the individual astronomical displays. So far, some of these ratios known in horology have delivered a more accurate moon phase display and a less accurate solar day, others have reproduced the solar day more accurately than the orbit of the moon.
But after having calculated more than 25 trillion (25,000,000,000,000) ratio combinations, Patek Philippe discovered the one single ratio that produces the highest degree of precision in all displays.

The result surpasses all expectations:
* The lunar day is accurate to 0.05 seconds per day, 18.385 seconds per year, or 30 minutes and 38.5 seconds per century.
* The day is accurate to 0.088 seconds per sidereal day, 32,139 seconds per year, or 53 minutes and 33.9 seconds per century.
* The moon phase is accurate to 6.51 seconds per lunation.
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docrwm
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