HERO Patek Philippe 5303R Grand Complications Minute Repeater Tourbillon

A Holy Hand Grenade: The Patek Philippe 5303R Minute Repeater Tourbillon

“And Saint Attila raised the hand grenade up on high, saying, ‘O Lord, bless this thy hand grenade, that with it thou mayst blow thine enemies to tiny bits, in thy mercy.’ And the Lord did grin.”

If you’re not a Monty Python fan, I’ll give you a minute to do a quick YouTube search for the scene. All set? Okay, now that we’re on the same page, is there a better line than that one to begin the tale of Patek’s miraculous 5303R-001? The tourbillon repeater to end all tourbillon repeaters, the 5303R is a modern 42mm watch with a strong distaste for conventional dials that allows its inner workings to do all of the talking. It is also, arguably, one of the best sounding minute repeaters in modern Patek history thanks to its ingenious use of open space which allows for clean and clear sound transfer. Sure, it’s not a cathedral gong (as seen in the 5073, for example), but the 5303R doesn’t need to show off like that.

Patek Philippe 5303R Grand Complications Minute Repeater Tourbillon

The holy hand grenade comes from the famed British comedy Monty Python and the Holy Grail (of course), and the 5305R is just that — a holy grail of modern minute repeaters from the one true master of the complication. So without further ado, let’s get into it.


A modern reference by all accounts, the 5303 debuted at the Patek Philippe Watch Art Grand Exhibition in Singapore in 2019. The inaugural model, the 5303R-010, was a special edition of just 12 total pieces that was intended for Singapore and the Southeast Asian market. It had a bright red minute track with white stars at the five-minute marks – an homage to the flag of Singapore. The regular production model seen here arrived in 2020 in the thick of the COVID-19 pandemic as a moment of horological brightness and levity. 

The Patek Philippe Caliber R TO 27 PS at the heart of the model has been around for quite some time (first appearing in 1993), but even though the base caliber remains the same, there are several key differences in play. Earlier references that were fitted with this caliber, like the 3939, measured nearly 9mm smaller in diameter, coming in at a minute 33.3mm. Far more traditional in appearance than the 5303, it’s impressive to see how creative a manufacture like Patek can be when it comes to utilizing their movement designs.

Patek Philippe 5303R Grand Complications Minute Repeater Tourbillon

Design Details

Generally speaking, it is viewed as something of an “easy out” when a manufacture pairs a large case with a much smaller caliber. There’s nothing quite like the letdown of opening a big 45mm case only to find a tiny little movement inside with a great big spacer around it. This practice is broadly viewed as a cost saver for high volume watchmakers, but as is often the case with Patek, you’re looking at the ultimate exception. Why, you may ask? In the case of a minute repeater, resonance is key, and resonance thrives with added space (when used correctly).

Patek Philippe 5303R Grand Complications Minute Repeater Tourbillon

Before getting into the technical details of why Patek did this, take a look at the intricate bit of what I’d almost call latticework that surrounds the otherwise compact caliber on its backside. One could easily write this off as purely decorative — especially seeing that the leaf pattern carries onto the case flank and lugs — but that doesn’t tell the full story. The reverberations of the repeater gongs echo through the cavernous chambers of the rose gold case, but also through this additional bit of hardware. It’s form meeting function, in the most elegant of ways.

Patek Philippe 5303R Grand Complications Minute Repeater Tourbillon

Inner Workings

Looking at the dial side of the 5303 (which is technically devoid of a dial…), the caliber appears to fill most of the case aside from the outer minute track. This is where the R TO 27 PS differs wildly from its siblings. With a bit of tweaking, the gongs have been adjusted to fit a larger setting, allowing the caliber to make use of a case that is 9mm larger in diameter than the one it was originally first built for. This adaptation is especially evident when viewing the caliber via its sapphire display caseback. Remember that “latticework” that we mentioned earlier? It’s honestly a rather clever way to make use of this movement in a contemporary-sized case. It also serves to accentuate the main function of the caliber — its minute repeater — by making it more resonant and improving the overall sound. Like we said, Patek is often the “exception to the rule” and I think we can give them a pass for fitting a small caliber in a big case.

Patek Philippe 5303R Grand Complications Minute Repeater Tourbillon


In the land of “heavy hitters”, the Patek Philippe 5303R ticks a very select set of boxes. This might not be the first choice for a typical Patek collector given that its design is a bit loud and flashy compared to the countless other references with closed dials and more traditional aesthetics. The 5303 has an “I have a well-rounded collection of grails and want to add a Patek to the pack” sort of energy. It’s the kind of watch you could see on the wrist of someone who also owns an AP Concept, an MB&F, and an Akrivia. It’s also one of the flashier minute repeaters that we’ve seen from Patek in a good while, so there’s zero fly-under-the-radar factor here.

Patek Philippe 5303R Grand Complications Minute Repeater Tourbillon

Versus The Competition

It’s rare we come across something as rare as the 5303R and to pin down what it might “compete with” is no small feat. If you’re looking for other alternatives from Patek, the 5074P Minute Repeater Perpetual Calendar could be a good option as it offers a repeater plus a perpetual calendar also in a 42mm case. Otherwise, it really feels like slim pickings. To throw you a real curveball, there is one watch that in some ways has a similar energy, but accomplishes it all for far less cash: the Jaeger LeCoultre Master Grande Tradition Repetition Minutes. Does it have the same collector appeal and legacy? No. That said though, JLC at its peak is nothing to sneeze at, and the modern openworked dial of that watch is more than enough to satisfy those looking for a repeater that does things differently.

Final Thoughts

What more is there to say about this one? The Patek Philippe 5303R exists in a class of its own — there’s nothing quite like these magical modern repeaters, and the watch is a perfect expression of Patek at its traditional finest while simultaneously also stepping outside and dabbling in a more modern and progressive design ethos. It’s a level of grail that most collectors can only hope to one day get their hands on. One watch to rule them all, one capable of blowing thine enemies to tiny bits — metaphorically of course.

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