Patek Philippe Minute Repeater, 3979J, Yellow Gold

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Created as part of a selection of watches for Patek Philippe's 150th anniversary, this Minute Repeater 3979J* is part of a small number of just 100 watches, and possibly would have been one of the first 10 made. With a coveted Jean-Pierre Hagmann case, this classically-styled watch pays tribute to Patek Philippe's heritage, as one of great makers of minute repeaters. This watch comes from the original owner and with various accompanying materials, including a Certificate of Origin stamped by Watches of Switzerland in Knightsbridge, London.

The Art of Casemaking

Often described as “celebrated” in auction catalogues, Jean-Pierre Hagmann is one of the most fabled casemakers of the 20th century. Over the span of his career, he has made watch cases for almost every significant watch brand in Switzerland, having earned particular renown for the minute repeater cases he made for Patek Philippe. It is said their sound quality is unparalleled. Today, the watch cases that bear his makers mark, "JHP", have become semi-mythical among collectors. We sat down with the man himself to discuss the art of casemaking, the constraints of working independently and how he happens to restore old motorbikes in his spare time.

So, you innovate through simplification…

In a way, yes. I’ve found myself upgrading certain ideas or concepts, which others quickly copied. But funnily enough, they didn’t even know they were copying me anymore.

Because it became common practice?

Yes, for example, on classical minute repeater watches, the slide is mounted on the surface of the case side, attached on the inside with a screw. I saw that this was frequently unstable and created an off-centre alignment. So, I threw all of that out for a much simpler solution.

Which was?

I introduced a channel for the slide, both to secure its lateral position and guide its motion when in use. You see, it’s through simplification that innovation is found. I created some minute repeaters for Patek Philippe using this mechanism, with the technique now having become standard practice within the manufacture.