Philippe Dufour Grande et Petite Sonnerie, Rose Gold

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Made by Philippe Dufour, this Grande et Petite Sonnerie is amongst the most significant wristwatches ever made. With the initial piece requiring over two and a half years to complete, it became the first wristwatch to house the impressive chiming complication. Only eight examples have ever been made, with this one being the third to leave the watchmaker’s workshop, and unique in its configuration. Completed in 1995, it was first delivered to the Sultan of Brunei.

'It would be nice if this watch could be owned by a collector who understand the philosophy behind it, and who wants to wear it. It’s terrible when beautiful, special watches are kept in the safe. They’re meant to be worn, wound and enjoyed.'

Philippe Dufour

The complication

The Grande et Petite Sonnerie chimes the time as it passes, with no intervention from the wearer, thanks to small hammers built into the movement. At any given time, the minute repeater can also be activated manually, thanks to a pusher on the crown. Despite its remarkable complexity, the movement was developed to be as simple to operate as possible. Turning the crown clockwise winds the sonnerie, whilst turning it counter-clockwise winds the movement. The winding blocks after a certain point, due to a stopping mechanism which prevents over-winding, similar to what can be found on some antique pocket watches.

Two sliders on the side of the case allow for the adjustment of the chiming function. The watch can be set to both Grande Sonnerie or Petite Sonnerie settings, thanks to the slider at 4 o’clock. The Grande Sonnerie strikes the number of hours, on every hour, and the number of hours and quarters on every quarter. Meanwhile, the Petite Sonnerie also strikes the hours and the quarters, but it does not repeat the hours on every quarter. The slider at 2 o’clock is used to silence or enable the chiming mechanism.

'I took inspiration from a Grande Sonnerie pocket watches made here in the Vallée de Joux, around 1900. I always say I never invented anything. It is my duty to continue making watches in this traditional way.'

Philippe Dufour