The Great Chime-Off: Patek Philippe Minute Repeater References 5074P And 5078P
They both look great, but I’m guessing that if you’ve been following this series you’re most interested in how they sound.
But before the grand finale, let’s compare
For me, a big part of the fascination of these two pieces is how Patek Philippe was able to execute two fundamentally different, yet coherent, design concepts within the constraint of a platinum-cased, black-dialed minute repeater. The 5074 is almost brutish with its muscular shoulders and blocky applied Arabic numerals, while the 5078 is a study in finesse.
Both watches are powered by movements based on Patek Philippe’s R27 caliber, but with important differences: the 5074 boasts both a perpetual calendar and extra-long, highly resonant cathedral chimes, while the 5078 is a more straightforward repeater execution with a small seconds display.
Given the opportunity to see the movement sides of these two awesome pieces side by side, I have to confess a preference for the packaging of the 5078P: the narrower bezel makes the movement appear more prominent, while the 5074’s movement seems to the eye to be recessed a bit within its enclosure.
Flipping the watches back over to the dial side provides a wonderful view and also allows us to consider the small design choices that make these watches different, from the color of the hands to the use of applied gold numerals on the 5074 to the fonts and their respective sizes. And if you look carefully at the photo above, you will see that on the 5078 the second “E” in “GENEVE” is connected to the following “V,” while on the 5074 dial each letter stands alone.
And now, on to the chime-off!
As they step into the ring (pun intended), let’s take one more side-by-side look at the contenders.
Let’s start by listening to my clear personal favorite. Well, at least it was until I listened to both watches side by side a number of times! The 5074 is one of two Patek Philippe watches (the other being the Sky Moon Tourbillon) to feature cathedral gongs, and the enduring, resonant sound they deliver is, for me, like nothing else.
As much as I love the sound of the 5074, the 5078 – and especially this particular example – comes close. It’s part of the accepted wisdom about repeaters that different examples of the same watch can sound significantly different from each other given the complexities of creating each piece. I’ve heard a number of 5074s over the past few years, and I can’t remember another sounding quite this bell-like and sweet.
And remember, both of these watches are cased in platinum, a metal that is reputed to be among the worst for transmitting the sound of repeater chimes!
Either one of these watches could be the centerpiece of a splendid collection; my friend happily admits that he is extremely fortunate to own both and sees both of them staying in his watch box for the long run.
But since part of collecting involves making tough choices, which would you select if you could only have one and why? I’d love to hear your views in the comments section below.
The video above features both Reference 5078P and Reference 5074P playing one after the other for an easier comparison.
Quick Facts Patek Philippe Ref. 5078P-001
Case: 38 mm, platinum with interchangeable solid and sapphire crystal backs (also available in pink gold as 5078R)
Dial: black lacquer with raised white numerals and indices (also available with white enamel dial)
Movement: automatic Caliber R 27 PS, 342 components
Functions: hours, minutes, small seconds; minute repeater with two gongs
Price: current retail price approx. $385,000; most recent auction prices between $269,000 and $378,000
Years of production: 2005-present
Quick Facts Patek Philippe Ref. 5074P-001
Case: 42 mm, platinum with interchangeable solid and sapphire crystal backs
Dial: black with applied numerals in white gold
Movement: automatic Caliber R 27 Q, 467 parts
Functions: hours, minutes; perpetual calendar with day, date, month, leap year; moon phase and 24-hour display; minute repeater with two cathedral gongs actuated by a slide in the case
Price: final retail price approx. $630,000; no recent auction sales of 5074P; recent auction prices for Ref. 5074R (red gold) $475,000 to $550,000
Years of production: 2002-2015