Step away from the streetlamp and look up. If you are lucky and it is not a cloudy night, take a moment to appreciate the beauty of the night sky above you. It is completely awe-inspiring, breath-taking, the 100s of billions of stars that appear to us every night, a true work of art.
Given we are in the infancy of understanding the universe’s enormity, it seems incredible that Patek Philippe have not only captured the magic of our stars in an artistic representation, but replicated them precisely within the dial of the Celestial Ref. 6102R.
A timepiece of exceptional rarity, the Ref. 6102R is a pioneer of celestial timekeeping, the dial presenting the nocturnal movement of the stars in the northern hemisphere, coupled seamlessly with the phases and orbit of the moon and the passage of Sirius, the brightest star in our night sky. Boasting a case measuring 44mm in diameter and featuring 315 complex parts, the timepiece is mighty but at only 10.58mm thick, it offers enormous power in the most comfortable of timepieces.
The dial comprises three sapphire crystal discs, one a deep shade of black to represent the night sky. The accurate rotation of the galaxy’s view is powered by a transparent sapphire-crystal disk, a mere two tenths of a millimetre thick. The watch’s focal point is an exceptional representation of the Milky Way that weaves delicately through the centre of the dial, framed with a date scale on the outermost periphery. Two skeletonised hands identify the hours and minutes of mean solar time without detracting from the breath-taking dial design behind.
Whilst the celestial artistry of the watch may appear to be the jewel in the watch’s crown, the level of precision at which the watch operates is the star attraction. A lunar day is defined by the time that elapses between two consecutive passages of the moon across a given meridian; on average, it lasts 24 hours, 50 minutes, and 28.328 seconds. A lunation (the period between two consecutive full moons) has an average duration of 28 days, 12 hours, 44 minutes, and 2.82 seconds. The heavenly timepiece is not only aesthetically beautiful but technically too. The heavenly orbital dance of the Ref. 6102R is choreographed by the self-winding calibre 240 LU CL C, a high-powered version of the Calibre 240, allowing the timepiece to maintain an accuracy for celestial display of 0.08 seconds per day.
Although the Ref. 6102R was first launched at Baselworld in 2015, it is the result of Patek Philippe’s evolutionary astronomical journey which first began in 1927 via the creation of “The Packard”. Whilst visually and technically very different to the Ref. 6102R, the pocket watch boasted a minute repeater, perpetual calendar and sunrise and sunset times. On the back, the timepiece featured a highly detailed star chart, this time above Warren, Ohio, the birthplace of the pocket watch’s namesake, James Ward Packard.
Over the years, as the human journey to understand the universe has progressed, so too has the technical brilliance of Patek Philippe’s celestial timepieces. While most of us will need to remain content with viewing space from afar, a lucky few will be able to harness the magic of our galaxy in the colossal Ref. 6102R.