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Chronometro Gondolo

The Chronometro Gondolo is a watch that was re-launched by Patek Philippe after decades of being in a limbo. Both the tonneau shape and rose gold are typical for art deco watch cases and hardly ever have these two assets been as thoroughly implemented as in this timepiece. Its geometry was inspired by a Chronometro Gondolo that dates back to 1925, except that its silhouette is now gently curved to embrace the wrist. The fact that this curvature extends across the crystal and the transparent back, however, called for precision technologies and the ability to accurately grind the extremely hard sapphire crystal to achieve a tight fit with the case. The result is a watch that has a fascinating aura of perfection.

The movement that ticks inside the Chronometro Gondolo Ref. 5098R is as iconic in style as the superb case. It is Patek Philippe’s manually wound caliber 25-21 REC (REC for rectangular), an exemplary study in modern horology. It it is also endowed with many of the formal details that set the Chronometro Gondolo movements of the early 20th century apart from all others.

This applies especially to the S-shaped center-wheel bridge and to the slender escape-wheel and fourth-wheel cocks that afford a generous view into the depths of the movement. The Gyromax balance wheel invented by Patek Philippe has a frequency of 4 Hertz (28,800 semi-oscillations/hour) and assures the high rate accuracy of this watch.

The cambered dial of the watch, as authentic in style as its 1925 predecessor, is a small work of art that descends gently toward the lugs. Its silver-plated center and the surface that surrounds the minute scale are artistically hand-guilloched using a now very rare artisanal technique.

Between the two guilloched zones lies the brown gilt hour scale with brown painted Breguet numerals. Two cartouches that touch the hour scale at 12 o’clock and 6 o’clock contain the signature of the maker, Patek Philippe Genève, and the Chronometro Gondolo model designation. The two pear-shaped hands are made of brown-colored gold.

The story behind the name of this watch dates back to November 12, 1872 when Patek Philippe sent the first pocket watch to Gondolo & Labouriau, a watch retailer in Rio de Janeiro. The consignment launched a strong business relationship that, from 1902 onward, eventually culminated in a collection of timepieces which the Geneva workshops designed exclusively for this Brazilian customer: the Chronometro Gondolo was born.

The first Chronometro Gondolo wristwatches appeared around 1910. They were available in square, rectangular, and tonneau shapes, and also in a cushion-shaped carré cambré version. For this reason, all current Patek Philippe form watches – timepieces whose cases are not round – belong to the so-called Gondolo collection.