Sounds Like Family
CROWN Singapore|December 2020
Beyond its many technical accomplishments, Patek Philippe’s Ref. 6301P Grande Sonnerie is a labour of love founded on familial bonds
Alvin Wong

It is a nice gift. An expensive one!” says Patek Philippe’s president Thierry Stern, his face beaming via webcast on the computer screen as he fields questions about his brand’s latest technical opus, the Ref. 6301P Grande Sonnerie. A journalist had asked about launching such a complex and expensive timepiece in a year as challenging as this. Stern reasons that since the product was ready, he didn’t think they should wait. And oh, he says, almost as a sidenote: he really wanted to time the debut of the watch for his father’s birthday.

Since he started working for Patek Philippe, Stern had been earmarked to take over the family business. Among his biggest responsibilities – one that has been romanticised in countless anecdotes – is to personally validate, together with his father, all of the brand’s chiming watches before they are shipped to the customers. With the Ref. 6301P Grande Sonnerie, the latest milestone in Patek Philippe’s long and illustrious line of chiming watches, it is only fitting that Stern would want to commemorate its release with a measure of personal significance.

“I remember seeing my father listening to the chiming watches and filling up the scorecards with ratings on volume, harmony, and so on. He was listening to maybe five pieces, and I couldn't tell the difference between them!” he recalls. “It was scary then, to think that, one day, I would have to do it without him. But after listening to the watches with him for so many years, it's easy now.”

Pure Chimes

Stern reveals that he did about 20 to 30 listening tests for the Ref. 6301P Grande Sonnerie during the watch’s conception. And these tests exclude those conducted by watchmakers, prior to presenting the prototypes to him. After countless rounds of feedback and fine-tuning with the team, Stern is now content to give the Ref. 6301P Grande Sonnerie a score of eight out of 10 for its chimes. “Two points are missing because I know we can still improve.”

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