The brilliance of Patek Philippe is that they seem to produce pieces knowing full well that they are making history. Only Watch has offered the brand the opportunity to make history every two years, and every time there is a twist or surprise. Yet never before have we seen such a bold attempt by Patek Philippe to earn another chapter in the history books as we do with this year’s timepiece: the ref. 27001M-001.
This submission boldly borrows from the past and at the same time highlights the master craftsmanship of the manufacture today. With nine patents, this clock is the Formula 1 of watchmaking and at the same time, pushes the boundaries of Patek Philippe’s Rare Handicraft department. It is a horological and aesthetic masterwork that involves all of Patek Philippe’s finest craftspeople to produce. It is, in my opinion, the masterpiece of our time, and nothing else made in recent years compares to the importance of this timepiece on the market today. Yet for only a few minutes on November 6 in Geneva, the world’s most privileged collectors will have a chance to own this timepiece. And there will be only one winner who will bring home this clock. It is literally, ‘The Only One’ and that fact is not so subtly written on the clock.
The 9th edition of the famous charity auction, Only Watch 2021 will be held at Christie’s Geneva on Saturday, November 6. Held every two years, the auction features 56 unique timepieces with all proceeds going to fund research into finding a cure for Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy.
From the beginning, Patek Philippe has contributed to this incredible initiative of Luc Pettavino, the founder, and from the first auction, Patek Philippe has been a top lot. Perhaps, the most decisive result was the sale of the Patek Philippe ref. 6300A in 2019 when it sold for an incredible 31M CHF, a world record for a watch at auction.
For more information on the above watch, see this review by Roger Ruegger in WatchTime magazine. Fortunately, I was present in the auction room at the time of this breathtaking sale, and I also had the pleasure of writing this article after the last Only Watch sale for Hodinkee in 2020 that outlines Patek Philippe’s contributions to all known charity auctions to date, as well as every Only Watch auction.
The argument can be made that this is the most important of all Only Watch timepiece made to date. SJX makes the case that this clock is more unique than anything else Patek Philippe has made in recent memory. I couldn’t agree more. This clock is based on history, yet it rewrites history, and will be a statement piece in all horological history books in the future. Ironically, this is the clock that transcends time and fully embodies the DNA of the brand. I am confident the winning bidder and underbidders will read this article (and many of you are dear friends and we have been discussing this topic endlessly over the past few months!). My advice is simple: own this clock. It is not about the money, it is about the legacy of Patek Philippe and your opportunity to personally own the masterpiece of our time.
For a bit of fun, check out Marc-André Deschoux’s video of the last Only Watch in 2019 that captures the magic of the sale of the record-breaking ref. 6300A. His video brilliantly catches the raw spirit of the moment from the perspective of one sitting in the room.
Looking at the clock itself, we can see how it was directly inspired by the clock made for James Ward Packard in 1928. It is certainly not a replica but rather an inspiration for the Caliber 27001M. For a wonderful video of the Packard clock and overview of the Ref. 27001M, check out this video from Patek Philippe here.
Let’s look at what makes this clock so special. First, the fact that it is a clock. Patek has made desk clocks since the 1920s and a there was a particular focus on clocks in the 1950s-1970s. With the growth of the Rare Handicrafts department, Patek Philippe has had a renaissance in clockmaking over the last 20 years, in particular showcasing the art of cloisonné enameling.
However, this clock showcases woodworking, a pleasant and unexpected surprise since we have only seen wood in some rare solar desk timepieces from the 1960s/70s, and more recent exceptional marquetry dial wristwatches . Here is a silver clock elegantly set with American Walnut (a tribute to Packard’s homeland), inlaid with border details, and of course the Calatrava emblem front and center. The use of a silver case is also an homage to the James Ward Packard desk clock. I love that in the world of Patek Philippe, steel brings more than precious metals for its relative rarity. Silver is the next level since it is far rarer than literally any other metal in Patek Philippe’s historic material arsenal. It’s an understatement that literally screams.
And let’s talk about the vermeil winged griffins that no one is talking about — this is Patek at its boldest. It is highly likely that James Ward Packard specially requested this treatment and symbolism for his desk clock. The griffin is a legendary creature with the wings of an eagle and the body and tail of a lion, literally the king of the air and land, the ultimate symbol of power that is said to protect one from evil and slander. Even Henry Graves did not get this treatment on his clock, and Patek has brought it back today almost 100 years later for this Only Watch Clock.
Horologically speaking, this clock is a magnum opus of Patek Philippe’s modern production. Nine patents were issued for Patek Philippe for the execution of this one clock — nine patents! Also, the caliber 27001M-001 86-135 PEND IRM Q SE incorporates the latest technology of the Gyromax balance and Spyromax balance spring. It is comforting to know that the technology in this clock is the same that is on your wrist if you are wearing a modern Patek Philippe, and directly inspired by technology of earlier vintage Pateks. It is Patek Philippe DNA at its finest and at the same time, the ultimate standard with its additional, never before seen layout and complications.
The week number on the perimeter of the dial is particularly interesting and useful, as is the day/night indicator, leap years, moon phases, and 31 day power reserve. Perhaps the part I am most excited about is the jumping seconds which you can see clearly in the video. Make no mistake, this is not a quartz movement, but the jumping seconds are a throwback to traditional horology when dead beat seconds were a sign of quality and accuracy on long case clocks. For an elegant description of the complications, please see this review by Fratello.
For the collector who desires a clock that represents the finest and most innovative timepiece of our era, look no further. This clock will be in the history books eternally and its name will live with the likes of Packard and Graves. On November 6, you too will have the chance to own this masterpiece — no waiting list for this one — and never again will there be another opportunity to be the first owner of ‘The Only One’. Best of luck, it’s going to be good fight.
Yellow-gilt opaline dial with black transfer-printed indications.
Sterling silver 925. American walnut veneers with retro-style screen-printed gilt lines. Vermeil decorative elements (gold-plated silver). Dimensions: 164.6x125mm. Height: 76.3mm. Humidity- and dust-protected only.
Caliber 86-135 PEND IRM Q SE. Manual winding. Complications: Perpetual calendar. Day, month, leap year and day/night indication displayed in apertures. Date indicated by hand. Week number indicated by a mobile frame. Moon phases. Hours and minutes displayed in a subsidiary dial. Large central seconds hand (jumping seconds). Central power reserve indication. Dimensions: 135 x 86mm. Height: 28.55mm. Number of parts: 919. Power reserve: 31 days. Balance: Gyromax®. Frequency: 28,800 semi-oscillations/hour (4Hz). Balance spring: Spiromax®.
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