Patek Philippe's first ever grand complications for women signal a shift in the world of fine watchmaking. With the arrival of the women's minute repeater (ref 7000 R) and the split seconds chronograph (ref 7059 R), ladies are most graciously invited in to the male domain of haute horlogerie in which luxury is enjoyed in its purest form.
I have often heard it said (mainly by men) that women are not interested in the mechanics of a watch and only look at the dial. Though I agree that not all women are mechanically inclined, those that are may be the perfect connoisseurs, because, as we all know, women notice the slightest of details straightaway.
For decades women, including myself, have swooned over Patek Philippe's watches but for the first time since its inception more than 170 years ago, the house has launched the first two contemporary grand complications especially designed for the female wrist. Early Patek Philippe watches featured complications for women including the 1916 five minute repeater and in fact one of the first wristwatches made by the company was for Countess Koscowicz of Hungary in 1868 .
The new minute repeater and split second chronograph are both grand complications, which as its name suggests, is the very pinnacle of mechanical genius. And to merit this accolade, the timepiece must feature one or more of the most intricate mechanisms, such as tourbillons, minute repeaters, or perpetual calendars, and often in combination with other functions like chronographs, retrograde date hands or power reserves.
Despite their complexity, the ultra-thin Officer's-style cases are smaller than the men's so sit lightly on the wrist. The Ladies First Minute Repeater that chimes the hours, quarters, and minutes on demand is perhaps the more emotional of the two because it has the added dimension of sound. The chiming hour report was in fact a useful tool in the days before light was available at the flick of a switch, and despite something of an anachronism, it is still one of the most sought-after mechanical marvels. So cherished are these watches that either Honorary President Philippe Stern or his son CEO Thierry Stern, check the sound of each and every minute repeater to leave the Geneva headquarters.
Chronographs play a pivotal role at Patek Philippe, and the firm now has four calibers, all meticulously made at its pristine Geneva workshops. What makes the rose gold Ladies First Split-Seconds Chronograph particularly appealing to women is that it is powered by the thinnest mechanism of its kind, meaning that it fits neatly into a small case. And unlike regular chronographs, the curvaceous pear shape hands of the stopwatch split to form two, allowing the timing of two separate events as well as lap or reference times. It performs this mechanical mastery with elegance, because there is but one pusher to carry out the start, stop, and return functions. And there are those two rows of diamonds around the bezel, like sugar sprinkles on a cake, that add an extra dose of delight.