The list of notable grande sonneries extends beyond those listed below, but not by a whole lot. These are the ones to keep at the forefront of your mind.
THE VACHERON CONSTANTIN LES CABINOTIERS SYMPHONIA GRANDE SONNERIE 1860
You would expect a manufacture with as long a history in making ultra-complicated watches as Vacheron Constantin to have made its first grande sonnerie sooner, but here it finally is. The entire watch took a single watchmaker 500 hours to assemble. A switch on the bezel lets you choose among the Grande Sonnerie, Petit Sonnerie and Silent mode, while a button in the crown activates a minute repeater.
F.P. JOURNE SONNERIE SOUVERAINE
The genius of Francois-Paul Journe is rarely, if ever, contested, and one need only look at his Sonnerie Souveraine to see why.
He single-handedly developed the watch in six years and racked up 10 patented features along the way – some dedicated to making it foolproof enough for an eight-year old to operate without issue, others for the striking mechanism. Like most sonnerie watches, this one also includes a minute repeater.
JAEGER-LECOULTRE HYBRIS MECHANICA À GRANDE SONNERIE
A whopping 1,472 parts went into the making of this Grande Sonnerie watch, which also includes a minute repeater, flying tourbillon and perpetual calendar. The repeater is also capable of playing the entire Carillon de Westminster melody – the longest tune any watch has been able to play.
Watchmaker and developer David Candaux completed the design in 2009.
GREUBEL FORSEY GRANDE SONNERIE
Aside from the inordinately long time it took to develop this timepiece, the other remarkable feature of the Greubel Forsey Grande Sonnerie is its size. With a diameter of 43.5mm and thickness of 16.13mm, it’s not much bigger than its less complicated brethren, such as the Tourbillon 24 Seconds Contemporain. It’s also surprisingly robust, being equipped with 11 security devices, such as disconnecting the time-setting when the watch is chiming and vice versa.
PATEK PHILIPPE GRANDMASTER CHIME
There isn’t enough room to list all 20 complications in the world’s most complicated wristwatch, but rest assured it lives up to its name with a grande and petite sonnerie, minute repeater and even an alarm with time strike and date repeater, among others. The numerous displays had to be split up into two dials, and the Calibre 300 that made it all possible comprises 1,366 parts and holds six patents.
PHILIPPE DUFOUR GRANDE AND PETITE SONNERIE
This was where it all began.
After developing a series of grande sonnerie pocket watch movements for Audemars Piguet, Dufour decided it was time to make his name known and started his eponymous brand. His first watch wound up being a scaled-down version of those grande sonnerie movements, and became the first ever grande (and petite) sonnerie wristwatch.