Being called a dick is an insult. Being called a big dick is even worse. But if someone calls you a big swinging dick, now that is one of the biggest compliments you can receive. The phrase was coined during the eighties on Wall Street for the biggest players who received the fattest checks and was popularized by the book Liar’s Poker written by Michael Lewis in 1989. There he wrote “But everyone wanted to be a Big Swinging Dick, even the women. Big Swinging Dickettes.” What kind of watch would a person like that wear today? An Omega is too cheap. A Rolex is too boring. It would have to be a Patek, and not just any Patek either. If you really want to make a statement there is nothing that even comes close to a reference 6300.
Before I start exploring the stunning array of complexities this watch offers there are some obvious problems that I have to mention. The most obvious one being the price. With $2,200,000 it is priced too high even for your run of the mill millionaire. Then there are the dimensions. With 47.4mm in diameter and 16.1mm in depth this watch is too big and clumsy to be actually wearable. And finally, there are the looks. I think you would struggle to find somebody who has no prior appreciation for the craft involved in horology who would tell you this watch actually looks good.
What I am saying is that the watch is too expensive, unwearable, and ugly. With that boring disclaimer out of the way let’s take a deep dive into what goes into this incredible timepiece. Keeping in mind what I said before this model was introduced in 2016 and is already the cheaper, more accessible, and better looking version of what was once the reference 5175. The reference number changed but the movement stayed the same. The hand engraved rose gold case was swapped for a more palpable polished white gold version. Additionally, the price dropped by $400,000 and there will be more versions available (only seven ref. 5175 where ever produced) although there are no exact numbers to support this.
The case however is the least interesting part of this watch, in spite of a neat trick up its sleeve which I will come back to later. This watch is all about the movement. The movement in this case refers to the inexplicably badly named caliber 300 GS AL 36-750 QIS FUS IRM. Created for the 175th anniversary of Patek it is not their most complicated watch ever created, but it is their most complicated wristwatch. It features 20 complications which for the sake of completion I have included below.
- Grande Sonnerie
- Petite Sonnerie
- Minute repeater
- Strikework mode display (Silence/Grand Sonnerie/Petite Sonnerie)
- Alarm with time strike
- Date repeater
- Movement power-reserve indicator
- Strikework power-reserve indicator
- Strikework isolator display
- Second time zone
- Second time zone day/night indicator
- Instantaneous perpetual calendar
- Day-of-week display
- Month display
- Date display (on both dials)
- Leap year cycle
- Four-digit year display
- 24-hour and minute subdial
- Moon phase
- Crown position indicator
20 complications, how do you even fit that on a normal watch? Well for one a small font and a large dial go a long way towards explaining the enormous size of this watch. That not being enough Patek fitted a sort of swivel function to the case. It allows you to turn the case around to reveal where on a normal watch would be the caseback. On the 6300 however you will be greeted with another dial which is white in colour, contrasting to the black one on the front, and features a 24-hour and minute sub-dial together with the instantaneous perpetual calendar and the four-digit year display.
The focus of the 6300, aka the Grand Chime, is clearly the acoustic experience that it offers to which it also owes its name. With five different striking chimes available, just how exactly does all this madness work and what the frick even is a Grand Sonnerie? Well to comprehend a Sonnerie you first have to know what a minute repeater is. It basically allows you to activate a function whereby the watch acoustically tells you the time through a series of different chimes that are separated in different notes for the hours, quarter hours, and minutes and added together equal the time. What a grand sonnerie does is it automatizes the process where every quarter hour the time is told to you without you having to take action. This complication is usually paired with a petit sonnerie which uses the same concept except it only chimes every hour similar to old-school wall clocks.
Great, a watch that keeps ringing every quarter. That surely won’t get annoying right? Well, luckily you can turn this complication completely off, or switch between the petite and the grand sonnerie. When in grand sonnerie mode the watch has a 30 hour power reserve, which for the amount of energy required to move all these pieces is very impressive and the reason why people literally had to wait 175 years for Patek to produce one in a wristwatch. This is achieved on the one hand through two barrels dedicated entirely to the chiming functionality. The other part that goes into the power reserve is the brand new and patented clutch function that decouples the chiming part of the watch from the rest when not in use and helps conserve energy as well as reduce friction and tear on the mechanics.
This watch also features an alarm function that puts any Memovox to shame. Not only does this watch use its charming chimes instead of a circadia like buzz when the alarm goes off but it also has a dedicated subdial which indicates the time to which the alarm is set and a small bell icon to show if the alarm is turned on or off in the first place. Even the date can be indicated acoustically! To fit all this and more into a watch requires a movement to be planed from the first moment to allow for these functions and exclude any cost-saving measures of modular integration. This pays dividends though when you become aware of the relative ease of use for this watch. With only four buttons to speak off and the sonnerie functionality being activated through a press on the crown instead of the traditional slider on the side of the case this has to be the most user-friendly 20 complication watch in the world, not that there is much competition though.
The Patek 6300 is a big watch. Big in every sense of the way, and you surely must be a big swinging dick to actually wear this watch. It is beautiful and ugly at the same time. It is a work of a genius yet entirely stupid on an objective perspective. It is at the same time one of the watches I least want to buy, but also one of those that I most want. Regardless of your personal opinion, this watch is a piece of history and will find itself nestled comfortably on any list of the best watches of the 21st century. It is one of those rare watches that pushes you to expand the frame of your imagination on what horology can truly achieve.