What is a Grande Sonnerie?
It means ‘grand strike’ in French, and is a complication in a mechanical watch or clock which combines a passing quarter striking mechanism with a repeater. That is, on the quarter-hour it strikes the number of hours audibly on a gong, and then the number of quarter-hours since the hour on a second gong. The hour and quarter strikes can also be activated on demand at the push of a button. The hours and quarters chime ‘en passant’, or as they pass. In contrast, a petite sonnerie strikes the hours and quarters in passing without repeating the hours at each quarter.
This is a Grande et Petite Sonnerie from Audemars Piguet’s Jules Audemars line. An almost old-fashioned 39mm in size, it’s a lovely warm rose gold and one of a limited edition of 50 watches. This watch was part of the first series of Grande Sonneries made by Audemars Piguet in 1995. The rose gold case is 39mm, polished and brushed, with the slide at 2 for the Grand Sonnerie, Petit Sonnerie or silent functions, and a push-button at 10. The Cal. 2868 has 51 jewels, straight line level escapement, shock absorber, self-compensating flat balance-spring,and Côtes de Genève. The sonnerie strikes are via two polished steel hammers onto two gongs.