Could this Patek Philippe 5078 be the best minute repeater around?
The latest Patek Philippe Minute Repeater 5078G-010 is a part of the brand’s rare handcrafts collection that is a very different world compared to the Nautiluses and Aquanauts. It’s fine watchmaking at its best, and follows a grand tradition of creating pieces that stand out and simply pave the way for elegance.
The chequered brand introduced the first minute repeater as part of its rare handcrafts collection in 2005.
This 2005 self-winding minute repeater Ref. 5078 sported a dial adorned with Roman numerals. The current iteration we are looking at couldn’t be more different yet similar. It’s similar as it follows the same idea of a minute repeater. It’s different in more than one way.
What’s a minute repeater
Before we go into these differences, let’s look at what a minute repeater is.
A minute repeater is a mechanical watch complication — think grandfather clocks of the yore — that chimes the hours and often minutes at the press of a button.
Only this new Patek Philippe one, chimes on two classic gongs, always precise at your command.
5078G-010 vs previous versions
Now back to the differences.
The new 2019 Patek Philippe Minute Repeater 5078 has got a new look: the current (reference: 5078G-010) features a white-gold version that frames a black enameled dial with matte and shiny finishes.
It is the first iteration without any Roman or Arabic numerals. Instead, it features gold applied hour markers.
It is also the first dark dial since 2008’s 5078P-010 that was discontinued in 2017. But this version is even different to the one from 2008 as the dial of the current one is patterned with volutes and arabesques (more on this is a bit). The hour hands are changed to white gold leaf-shaped hands as compared to the other existing version in the lineup — 5078G-001— released in 2017.
To cut the story short, it’s different.
And we like that it is. It’s a got more architectural look to it than just being a plain dialled watch. And while there was absolutely nothing wrong with the earlier incarnations, the latest 2019 Minute Repeater sports a dial that plays with poetry, and that’s got us impressed.
EMAIL on the dial
Before we proceed, just wanted to state this from the onset: we are aware that many of our readers might find the word ‘EMAIL’ on the dial confusing. Some of you may even mock it.
Our response is this: for the former group, ‘Email’ here stands for Enamel (in French) and Patek has decided to display the material text on its dial. We must admit it is a bit odd as usually brands do not do this. Also, barring the minute repeater release in 2008 — reference 5078P-010 — all iterations of this collection have featured this text. ‘
Now, for the latter group who might mock it, consider this: Patek & Rolex have a proven history — for instance Tiffany & even rarer Cartier co-branded dials — of making unusual dials that decades later have become the most sought after pieces. We say give this trend a while, and the hatred may just turn into admiration.
Anyway, back to the watch review.
Lets talk about the engine first. The 2019 Patek Philippe Minute Repeater 5078 boasts of the caliber R 27 PS self-winding movement — 28mm diameter & 5.05mm height — and features a decorated 22-carat gold mini-rotor and comprises of 342 parts.
Nestled inside a white-gold case — 38mm diameter and 10.18mm height — the movement beats at the frequency of 3Hz (21’600 A/h) and provides with a decent 43 to 48 hour power reserve. The frequency is a bit slow here compared to the usual industry standard we have seen of 4Hz, but it means that there would be less friction between parts and thus makes this a relatively easy watch to maintain.
The striking mechanism for the minute repeater has two classic gongs. Activated by the slide piece into the left flank of the case, the watch strikes the hours, quarters and minutes on demand.
As if the mechanical functions of the watch weren’t impressive enough, there is still more to admire about this watch.
The aspect that jumps out on first look is the 18K gold dial plate that is decorated with volute and arabesque whose subtle contrasts of matte and polished surfaces create a mesmerising play of light and shade.
Depending on how you look at it, it’s almost got a touch of gothic to it. If there was ever a trend called luxury gothic, this would exemplify that.
The inspiration for the motifs on the dial seems to have been distilled from the artistic decoration techniques of volute and arabesque that are made to create a jigsaw of sorts, of spiral & rhythmic patterns of scroll-like ornamentation.
If you inspect closely, you will notice that dial pattern is mirrored.
The 1/4th dial pattern was obviously important to Patek in the design of this watch. What we do like is that there is strong sense of architectural geometry to the dial, and the way that all four quarters of the dial comes together to complete this jigsaw its very impressive.
On this decorated dial the slender leaf-shaped hour and minute white gold hands really stand out and add to that play of light and shade. They are further complimented by the lozenge-shaped applied hour markers (again in white gold). These hour markers feature two facets that further help bounce off the light.
Finally a small seconds hand turns discreetly on the sub-dial at 6 o’clock, its shape very different to the leaf-shaped hour and minute hands, thereby providing for a nice visual contrast.
The beauty of the sub-dials
There are a few other details we noticed that piqued our interest.
The 2019 Patek Philippe Minute Repeater 5078 is also the first iteration since its introduction that features a different and unique sub-dial layout for this collection.
Unlike the previous models, the seconds minute track circle is different – it’s not circled off, but instead the markers are free, thereby contributing better to the fluidity of the patterned dial. The sub-dial is also not recessed like the previous models.
The case architecture
The part of the case where the crown meets is indented inwards.
This breaks the monotony of the circular design thereby integrating the outside of the case very well with the circular patterns on the inside of the dial. This indentation also accentuates those arabesque pattern curves.
Another feature that compliments with these circular patterns is the curvature of the slide — used for actuating the minute repeater — on the left of the dial.
These may just be small details, but are still worth mentioning. It’s details like these that make certain watches more collectible or even grail worthy.
Another impressive feature about the new version is that it comes with the options of interchangeable solid and sapphire crystal case backs.
The watch comes on a hand-stitched, shiny black alligator leather strap with square scales, and features a fold-over clasp that is easy to use and sits comfortably on the wrist.
To say that Patek Philippe watches are a visual art extravaganza would be an understatement. True, Jaquet Droz has the likes of the ‘Bird Repeater’ and Hublot has the transparent Green Sapphire, but none of them present their art in the manner Patek does.
Patek Philippe screams elegance, but quietly. It presents extravagance, but subtly.
The 2019 Minute Repeater takes you on an audio visual ride, through the sound of its gongs and the pattern of its dial.
The 2019 Patek Philippe Minute Repeater 5078 in 18-karat white gold case is indeed a very handsome dress watch release.
It’s got a very ‘Patekish’ (unique) style of black enamel dial with matte and shiny finishes decorated with volutes and arabesques that is elegant and a great added detail to the minute repeater complication it so marvellously boasts of.
It is classically built in a very dressy manner. The limited production and the 18-karat white gold case make it a less assessable watch and that further enhances the charm of owning one.
The size of 38mm and thickness of only 10.18mm makes it very comfortable to wear for both men and women, and for anyone under 16.5cm wrist size. This helps gives this watch a true place in our Fusion Friday list. The absence of water resistance rating however is bit of a bummer — the watch is only humidity and dust-protected — but then this watch is only meant to be work on special occasions. Even though it’s designed for men, it is on our His+Her list given it’s beautiful dial design and dimensions.
As a side note, who we can see wearing it: Usher.
If you simply wish to peruse the technical specifications, please head here to our Sneak Peek review.
Alternatively you can also check out our cool Infographic on this watch here.
To find out more about this and other Patek watches, visit the Patek website here.