Sunday, September 14, 2008

Sonnerie vs Minute Repeater

Quite often Sonnerie will be labeled as a type of minute repeater, although the complications is quite different and should be regarded as a complication in its own right. A sonnerie is known as a clockwatch. Although both watches chime hours or quarter hours, the Minute Repeater chimes at will of the wearer.

The Sonnerie chimes automatically -like a tower clock- at the hour (petit sonnerie) or quarter hour (grande sonnerie). Sonnerie is French for "making sound" or "ring".

Both movements are extremely complex to create, and incorporate a large number of intricate parts. A complicated Sonnerie was built by Gerald Genta in the early nineties. Sonnerie's are quite rare compared with the quite prolific market of repeaters and minute repeaters. The Sonnerie requires a continuous power supply by the mainspring as it chimes automatically on the hour. The Repeaters are powered by a repeater slide and a spring mechanism, the Sonnerie requires a single strike train. In the past the watchclocks that striked at the hours and quarter required seperate strike trains for each (the hour strike train and the quarter), the end-product being a "triple train: clockwatch with three mainsprings.

Although these watches are quite rare, albeit rather pricey, they can be quite annoying striking on the quarter of an hour. However the watches are equipped with a rather clever "strike-silent, or Silence mode. Choosing to use the sonnerie complications means sliding the slide bolt on the case. The watch enters the sonnerie mode and chimes, clear and delicate, at the next hour or quarter. Some clockwatches are crafted with a repeater as well. The repetition function is powered by the second mainspring, and usually is operated by a button rather than the slide. The only setback in this case would be the use of the repeater will deplete the power reserve required by the sonnerie.

The Sonnerie is incredibly beneficial to those who cannot see and thus require the need for auditory time. I am curious if Sonnerie Luxury Watches will make a grander
appearance in the World of Horology.


  1. Thanks for the comment. I love the pun - 'striking' LOL!

  2. Good site you've got here.. It's hard to find good quality writing
    like yours these days. I seriously appreciate people like you!

    Take care!!

  3. More than 10 years later and still usefull... Thank you!
    I have a YT channel in Brazil and I will make a video explaining the sonnerie and your post was very helpful, tks!