Home Continuing Series Historical Horology A Hybrid Historical Horology / Watch Video Rewind – Minute Repeaters

A Hybrid Historical Horology / Watch Video Rewind – Minute Repeaters



Today’s post id a bit of an odd beast – I went looking for something to post up about watch videos, and ended up running into something that could also be considered Historical Horology as well as Watch Video Rewind.  So, without further ado, let us dive in to the history (and sounds) of minute repeaters.

So, first off, what is a minute repeater?  This something a bit more special than your run-of-the-mill chiming watch.  Rather than sounding out a specific intervals (on the hour, most commonly), repeaters instead only sound at the push of a button.

Regular repeaters might only sound out the hours (one strike for each hour), but minute repeates will (unsurprisingly) chime out the minutes as well.  These are of course rather elaborate, and something not many would need.  If you are looking for something peculiar to the world of mechanical watches, or perhaps have vision issues, then a repeater could be for you.

As with most things watch-related, repeaters have their origins in the world of clocks.  While clocks offered all sorts of room, getting a repeater to fit into the confines of a pocket watch was a bit more complex – but was done.  When it came time to shrink things to the proportions of a wrist watch, then the challenge became getting it to sound out pleasingly, and loud enough to be heard.  This article over at Wikipedia gives a concise rundown of the history, as well as running through the different types of repeaters.

Ref. 5078P, self-winding minute repeater, 38mm; introduced in 2005.
Ref. 5078P, self-winding minute repeater, 38mm; introduced in 2005.

For something a bit more precise, Patek Phillipe is the brand to dig into, as they have the most well-known repeaters these days.  I found an article over at Revo Online that goes into the history of repeaters specific to the brand.  The article even explains how to listen to a repeater to determine the time.  Quite handy if you’re in a darkened room with no light source, I do suppose.

That leaves us with the article (and video) that started this little journey.  Over at Hodinkee, they run through the entire current collection that Patek has on offer with their repeaters.  Hearing the different chimes is quite a treat, and I have to say I am partial to the cathedral chimes, for sure.  Check out the article for a nice overview of the current collection, as well as some sharp photography.

Photos courtesy of (and credit to) Revo Online and Hodinkee

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