Seen as the queen of complications, the minute repeater was invented around 1750, in the days before electricity, so people could know the time in the dark. Today it seems as magical as ever.
Although more than 250 years old, the minute repeater is still considered the quintessence of fine watchmaking, and a special challenge for the rare watchmakers capable of crafting one. The basic idea is that it strikes the hours, quarters and minutes, but the "holy grail" is the quest for ever-better sound quality. Audemars Piguet took out three patents and worked for eight years to develop its new Royal Oak Concept, a true gem driven by a hand-wound movement with a minute repeater, a tourbillon and a column-wheel chronograph; the quality and timbre of its chime are in a class of their own. Girard-Perregaux too offers us pure poetry in the form of its Minute Repeater Tourbillon under Gold Bridges, having redesignedthe minute repeater to add a new dimension to the striking mechanism and thereby demonstrated once again its attachment to its origins dating back to 1791. At Bulgari, the Carillon Tourbillon's architectural case houses a manufacture calibre combining two complications: a tourbillon and a set of exceptionally harmonious gongs. At the 2014 Grand Prix d'Horlogerie de Genève, Hublot's Classic Fusion Tourbillon Cathedral Minute Repeater was voted Best Striking Watch for its very musical sound. And finally, Jaeger-LeCoultre's Master Grande Tradition Grande Complication in pink gold harmoniously teams an orbital tourbillon with sidereal time and a minute repeater with a rich, intense sound.