As we leave an analog world and progress deeper into a digital one, we trade out one headache for another. The rise of digital clocks in the late 20th century has liberat- ed us from the dependency on analog devices (though the digital world is not without its flaws) and society no longer has to suffer from the inherent inaccuracies of me- chanical timekeeping. We are now surrounded by digital devices that are synced with atomic clocks for precision — even setting them is done automatically, in most cas- es — therefore, gear-driven timekeeping is no longer a necessity. But, we now have the luxury of enjoying these little ticking mechanical miracles mainly for their sheer beauty and mind-boggling craftmanship. The need for manufacturers of mechanical watches to further improve on timekeeping accuracy is less critical than it once was — though the monetary investment required to attain a fine watch is still lofty. Nevertheless, there remains a manufacturer obsessed with creating the most precise watches in the world. Since the formation of the company, Patek Philippe has made accuracy its business. At its core, the manufactur- er is applying real watchmaking solutions — rather than gimmicks — to achieve and maintain its razor-sharp pre- ciseness. Unveiled this year, the all-new 30-255 PS man- ual-wind caliber that powers the Calatrava Ref. 6119 is a tremendous example of this. It won’t be heralded as an engineering feat like the watchmaker’s famous Caliber 89 or the Grandmaster Chime, but that doesn’t diminish the deft watchmaking that resides beneath the new watch’s dial. Although incredibly subtle, it’s an important step in maintaining watchmaking supremacy. And, it should be recognized, because it represents exactly the type of com- pany Patek Philippe has always been and still is: synony- mous with precision. My early days at Patek Philippe were very much like a game of Whac-A-Mole: Everything I learned through- out my training only led me to more questions. Spending time with a watchmaker to understand why the compa- ny’s watches are so accurate only uncovered more ques- tions. I did my best to understand each piece of informa- tion as a separate piece to a much bigger puzzle, hoping to create a clearer picture. Through many conversations with patient watchmakers — along with time at the work- bench, peering through a microscope — I began to demy- stify this engaging topic. I won’t be able to unpack all of it here, but I want to touch on the cornerstone of how the manufacturer carries out its staggering rate of exactness.
Patek Philippe Calatrava Clous de Paris Ref. 6119R and 6119G
The history built into Patek Philippe’s all-new movement is packed with obsession, perfection and competition. For de Boulle, a former company insider unwinds the whole story. WHY MECHANICAL STILL MATTERS IN A DIGITAL WORLD
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By Michael A. Fratangelo
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