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Chronometro Gondolo pocket watch

October 9 2005 at 8:40 AM

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The Chronometro Gondolo



The Chronometro Gondolo watches were the result of an unlikeley collaboration between Patek philippe and the Brazilian jewellery store Gondolo & Labouriau, who at the beginning of the 1900's were the worlds largest retailer of Patek Philippe timepieces.

The concept for a unique timepiece to recognize this partnership arose in 1902, with the delivery of the first Chronometro Gondolo in this year. Gondolo & Labouriau devised an exact technical specification for the watches which were to bear their name, designed to showcase the technical ability of the watchmakers of Patek Philippe.

It was required that the watches feature 9K rose gold wheel trains {the only watches made by Patek Philippe to bear this feature}, the ability to wind the watch either by the crown or by a winding square fitted in the mainspring arbor, a minimum of 18 jewels, a "moustache" lever escapement and finally the fitment of the micro-metric snail cam index regulator, patented in 1891.

The watches were produced in 9 styles including centre seconds, chronograph and subsidiary seconds versions. The standard style was for a white enamel dial with roman numerals, signed "Chronometro Gondolo" {often around the subsidiary seconds dial} with an 18k gold case, although silver versions are known. The name "Chronometro" implies that the watches are chronometer rated, however, Patek Philippe has never confirmed whether the watches were certified by an official body such as the Geneva Observatory or whether they were timed in-house. The Chronometro name being added perhaps to suggest the accuracy of the watches? The results of observatory timing tests were held in high regard at this time, Patek Philippe were amongst the most successful in thse competitions and employed some of the most famous timers {regleurs} known as the "athletes of chronometry". The victorious manufacturers made good use of their high grades to promote the quality of their watches.

Perhaps the most interesting part of the Chronometro Gondolo story is the marketing employed by Gondolo & Labouriau. A payment plan was offered to spread the cost of the puchase price, which at the time was 790 francs. Customers were invited to become members of the "Plano do Club Patek Philippe". The club organized days out, picnics and other events, where the "Patek Waltz" would be played, and also a lottery! The "prize" being a watch, each member having agreed to the purchase price paid 10 francs per week, and was assigned a number. A weekly draw took place over 79 weeks, the winner of the draw each week would receive their watch, and continue to pay for the remaining weeks until the total of 79 was reached. One must take pity for the last member to be drawn, who would have had to pay for the full 79 weeks before receiving his watch!





The watches were eventually made in the form of wrist watches as well as pocket watches, up until 1927. The name "Gondolo" is still in use by Patek Philippe today, having been revived in 1993 for a series of "Art Deco" watches, reminiscent of those made for Gondolo & Labouriau.

(The information comes from Antiquorum, the Patek Philippe magazine and various online sources.)

 
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