Sound Investments: 10 Notable Minute Repeaters and Chiming Watches

One of the most difficult watch complications to produce, a minute repeater transforms a watch from mere timekeeping device to miniature music box. Below we take a look at 10 minute repeaters and other, even more sophisticated chiming watches that are more than just bells and whistles.

The newest version of the A. Lange & S?hne Zeitwerk Striking Time has a rose-gold case and hands and a silver dial. Unlike most repeaters and other chiming watches, it has its chiming mechanism integrated into the dial design. The black-polished steel hammers are located on either side of the large small-seconds subdial at 6 o clock. The hammer on the right strikes the quarter hours and the one on the left, the full hours. The two gongs, embedded in a recess between the dial and the bezel, are also visible from the dial side. Every 15 minutes, the mechanism triggers the striking of one of the gongs three high-pitched chimes for each quarter hour and one low-pitched chime for the top of every full hour. The watch has a device that can deactivate the chiming mechanism whenever the owner wishes to not be disturbed by it: Simply press the push-piece at 4 o clock and the hammers raise away from the gongs and hold in place, thus silencing the watch. For more details, click here.

The Audemars Piguet Tradition Tourbillon Minute Repeater Chronograph is available in a very limited edition of 10 pieces each for both versions, a rose gold and a titanium model. The titanium version, the company says, is ideally suited for the watch s highest complication, the minute repeater, which strikes on two gongs. As many may not be aware, the quality of the sound emitted by a repeater watch is largely dependent on both the case material and the case s dimensions. Larger cases (the Tradition Tourbillon Minute Repeater Chronograph s is 47 mm in diameter) and lighter, harder materials (such as titanium) are best suited to maximize the sound volume of the chimes by allowing the acoustic waves to expand inside the case.

At the push of a button (located at 10 o clock), or when it strikes a pre-set time, the Breguet Ref. 7800 Classique La Musicale plays Bach s Badinerie. Its musical mechanism resembles a music box, utilizing a disk with pegs that strike the 15 blades of the keyboard. A membrane made of Swatch s LiquidMetal fitted under the movement amplifies the sound while maintaining water resistance.

The Bulgari Brighella, the first in its series of Commedia del Arte watches, is equipped with a cathedral-gong minute repeater (operated by a slide at 10 o clock) with two hammers, along with a jumping hour and retrograde minutes display. When the watch s chime sounds, the characters on the dial begin moving in choreographed, balletic motions. The case is made of 18k white gold and an alloy called Magsonic, breitling Super Avenger Military replica developed to amplify the resonance of the repeater s chimes. Click here for more details and photos of the Bulgari Commedia del Arte Brighella.

One of the highlight pieces of SIHH 2014, the Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Ultra Thin Minute Repeater Flying Tourbillon is the eleventh creation in the brand s Hybris Mechanica collection and the first ultra-thin Grand Complication model. The watch is very slim for a minute repeater, at just 7.9 mm thin. It is also equipped with an original tourbillon, a high-performance new balance spring, a peripheral automatic winding system, a retractable single push-button, and a minute repeater equipped with a silent-timelapse reduction system. The watch is equipped with two patented trebuchet hammers that ensure stronger, cleaner striking on the two crystal gongs fixed to the sapphire crystal, which helps to amplify the sound diffusion. Instead of a traditional slide, the minute repeater is activated by a retractable, single push-button, for which Jaeger-LeCoultre has filed a patent, with a discreet locking system at 8 o clock. Visit our Jaeger-LeCoultre brand page for more on this very complicated timepiece.

The Jaquet Droz Bird Repeater is inspired by the brand s namesake, Pierre Jaquet-Droz, known for his automaton creations, which often featured birds. A push-button triggers the minute repeater, which strikes the hours, quarters, and minutes as the birds on the dial come to life. The system uses a cathedral gong whose resonant, mellow tones are generated by two turns around the mechanism. Click here for more on the Jaquet Droz Bird Repeater and here to see the new skeletonized version.

At SIHH 2013, Piaget unveiled its first-ever minute repeater, the Piaget Emperador Coussin Automatic Minute Repeater. Activating the slide at 9 o clock triggers the minute repeater on demand, with the sound generated by a gong designed for enhanced transmission of the vibrations C and thus the sound C through the movement and on through the case. In order to preserve the purity of this sound throughout its duration, the movement, Caliber 1290P, is equipped with an inertia flywheel to regulate the rhythm between the start and finish of the chiming. Click here for our full-length article on this Piaget minute repeater.

Germany s Tutima released its first chiming watch with an in-house movement, the Tutima Hommage Minute Repeater, in 2013. Tutima, a Glash tte-based watch company that traces its history back to the 1920s, spent three years developing the movement for the watch, Hommage Caliber 800. breitling Colt replica From the back, the owner can see Tutima s historical insignia, the relief engravings on the cover of the striking mechanism s barrel, and the mechanism that activates the repeater s tiny hammers.

The Ulysse Nardin Stranger chimes the melody of the iconic 1966 Frank Sinatra song, Strangers in the Night on the hour or on demand. The Stranger s movement, which took five years to develop and includes functions that emulate those of a classical music box, is visible through a sapphire crystal in the caseback. The on/off pusher that activates and deactivates the chiming mechanism is located at 10 o clock; the wearer uses this to program the watch to play its Strangers in the Night melody on the hour or not at all.

The Vacheron Constantin Patrimony Contemporaine Ultra-Thin Calibre 1731, powered by the astonishingly thin, 3.9-mm Caliber 1731, made its auspicious debut at 2013 s inaugural Watches and Wonders watch fair in Hong Kong. It boasts a 65-hour power reserve and also incorporates the flying strike governor developed for Vacheron s 2755 movement in 2007, which is designed to steady the rate at which the repeater s hammer s strike the gongs. To ensure as clear a sound as possible for the chimes, the gongs are stacked, rather than placed side by side, and connected to the case middle. In this way, the case is made to be as one with the movement; the case is constructed without joints so that it and the gongs can interact metal against metal for an ideal amplitude of sound.


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