Last week Patek Philippe officially released the first pictures of the new Ref 6002 Sky Moon Tourbillon, one of the most stunning timepieces I have seen in years. A remarkable combination of technical complexity and aesthetic beauty, adjectives like ‘exquisite’ and ‘exceptional’ spring to mind when trying to describe this glorious masterpiece. Showcasing Patek Philippe’s full suite of breathtaking skills more than any other piece I can think of from the brand (in recent memory at least) this is definitely one for the serious collectors out there.
The Ref 6002 Sky Moon Tourbillon
From a technical standpoint the Ref 6002 Sky Moon Tourbillon does not differ that greatly from the original Ref 5002. Given that the latter is the most complicated timepiece Patek Philippe has ever made however I don’t think too many fans will have a problem with this.
As with its predecessor, the specifications of the Ref 6002 Sky Moon Tourbillon read like a shopping list of high complications. There are 13 in total indicated across two dials, including a minute repeater with two cathedral gongs, a tourbillon, a perpetual calendar with a retrograde date and moon-phase display.
As the name suggests a number of these complications are dedicated to astronomical functions, which are predominantly indicated on the rear dial and include a rendering of the northern sky, sidereal time, and the angular progression and phases of the moon. Pretty sensational stuff and an incredible example of traditional watchmaking at its best.
…But That Case
Where things really get interesting for me though is the aesthetic design of the Ref 6002 Sky Moon Tourbillon. According to Patek Philippe this new timepiece has been designed as a “sculpture for the wrist.” Now, whilst it’s hard to imagine anyone ever actually wearing this superb creation (mainly due to the irrational fear that it would be accidentally damaged) I can certainly see this as a piece of art on display in some private collection surrounded by masterpieces from the likes of Rembrandt and Picasso.
Carved from a single block of 18k white gold entirely by hand, the delicate design and attention to detail almost baffles the mind. According to the brand this incredible aesthetic has been achieved using special chip removal techniques using sharp burins that not only incise the precious metal but actually “lift” the decorations out of the gold surface. To exaggerate this effect the engraver not only molds the gold in bas-relief but also applies the chisel to the small surfaces between the three-dimensional structures, thus creating further subsets of contrasting detail.
This engraving process alone represents more than one hundred hours of work, and that doesn’t even include the decoration of the minute- repeater slide in the case flank, the two crowns, and the white-gold clasp that locks the strap, all of which are done using the same painstaking techniques. The decoration of the two crowns in particular is quite impressive as each flourish delicately describes the function of each: the dynamometric winding crown at 4 o’clock shows an arrow in relief to indicate the direction of rotation, while the moon and stars in relief on the crown at 2 o’clock reveal that it is intended to adjust sidereal time and the celestial functions on the rear dial.
Of course the exotic artisanship is not limited to just the case, although that white gold masterpiece is, in its own right, worthy of years of study. However fortunately for us, Patek Philippe intended the Ref 6002 Sky Moon Tourbillon to showcase its full range of enviable skills. That’s why, if you turn your attention to the gorgeous front dial, you can bask in the glory of spectacular enameling with champlevé and cloisonné techniques.
Beginning life as a thin disk in gold, the indications on the dial, including the railway track scale, the moon-phase display and calendar apertures, all stand out in relief thanks to a careful milling out process. To complete the look the recesses around the relief contours are filled by hand by a skilled champlevé enameler using molten enamel before the dial is placed in the oven for firing.
The pièce de résistance – for me at least – is the center of the dial, which has been superbly decorated with cloisonné enamel. Now, this is not a technique used exclusively by Patek Philippe of course, however in conjunction with everything else going on with Ref 6002 Sky Moon Tourbillon it is quite simply the icing on the cake. This is the result of literally hours of careful work, where flattened gold wire is fixed to the dial, in this case in the form of blossoms and leaves, before being filled with enamel and fired in the oven.
There are a hundreds of other fine touches to be discovered in the minutiae of the design however I will leave that distinct pleasure to the select few who will ever have the opportunity to view this incredible creation in person. If any of those people are reading this and are feeling generous, please don’t hesitate to share!
No official word on pricing as yet but expectations have it in-line with the original Ref 5002 so expect a price tag somewhere in the vicinity (if not a little north) of US$1.2 million.