In the world of Patek Philippe, there are dozens of combinations of high complications, each treasured by collectors across the globe. But the perpetual calendar and chronograph combination is probably the greatest fan favourite.
The origins of this combination run back to 1941, in the midst of WWII. During one of the most chaotic periods in modern history, Patek Philippe released a perpetual calendar chronograph in the reference 1518. Since then, the watch has enjoyed an unbroken existence in the brand. It’s slowly evolved with time, and each reference has brought new details to the watch.
From the Reference 1518 to the 5270
The original 1518 at 35mm (petite today, enormous then) had a BASE-1000 tachymeter with arched flat pushers and brushed flat lugs. Its sequel, the 2499, lived for 35 years with 349 pieces produced, and saw some of the biggest design changes of the complication. Flat pushers gave way to pump pushers and lugs were further stepped.
Then came the reference 3970, designed by Philippe Stern himself. It was an important moment for the company, with a new movement based in the famed Lemania 2310. The 36mm watch, despite its smaller size, had a cleaner layout without the tachymeter, and a powerful visual presence thanks to its deliberately imbalanced counters.
18 years later, Philippe Stern would task the current President, his son Thierry Stern, to design the successor to the 3970. The reference 5970 was a bridge between the 3970 and Patek’s internal plans to develop its own in-house movement. But it was also a product meant to bridge generations of Patek Philippe collectors. And in many ways, this transition design would prove to be a powerful shift in the design of the perpetual calendar chronograph of today; that is, the 5270.
The biggest shift between the 3970 and 5970 is the size. The 5970 has a dial over 30% larger, which means displays can be bigger while there’s more negative space on the dial. The very contemporary size also meant the watch was even more appealing to today’s audience.
Then the 5270 was introduced in 2011, when the 5970 was discontinued.
The Reference 5270
When the 5270 was first introduced, it was significant for many reasons. First, it featured a bold new in-house movement, the CH 29-535 PS Q, a chronograph base upon which Patek Philippe has built all of its chronographs since. (The CH29-535 PS is best known for being used first in the Ref. 7071R “Ladies First Chronograph”, but more on that another time.)
What that meant was that the case design now thoroughly complemented the movement design, aligning the technical and aesthetic divisions of this watch line fully. At 41mm, an incremental change from the 5970, the watch is an ode to old and new Patek Philippe design. It brings back elements that stretch as far back as the 1518, but the watch does not look out of date.
The concave bezel coupled with the angular stepped lugs, rounded bar pushers pair remarkably well with the angled black oxidised gold indexes and feuille hands. The first iteration of the 5270 was in 2011, and interest in the watch rapidly soared among retailers, collectors and the general public.
The CH 29-535 PS Q calibre, revealed on the underside of the case, is stunning to behold. It also bears the Patek Philippe Seal, which holds to a higher standard than other certificates. With the 5270, the calibre’s accuracy is guaranteed to -3/+2 seconds a day in the finished watch at the minimum.
The 5270G in white gold ran for 6 years before it was discontinued. Meanwhile in 2015 a rose gold model with a silvered opaline dial emerged. In place of the sportier hands and hour markers of the 5270G, the 5270R had polished rose gold ones. The change-up immediately gave this watch a more classic presence.
2018 – The 5270 Evolves
The 2018 editions of the Patek Philippe 5270 include the platinum model 5270P-001 and the full rose gold model 5270/1R-001 with rose gold goutte bracelet.
The rose gold 5270R was also displaced in 2018 and that year, Patek Philippe gave us two versions of the 5270 – a great year for collective rejoicing. The 5270P in platinum came in a golden opaline dial, or “salmon” as many collectors like to term it. This was a particular surprise as these dials were only accessible via custom creations in the past, or on their grand complications. The bar indexes on the top half of the dial were also replaced with Arabic numerals, in black oxidised gold with the hands. These details offered the watch a sporty edge, despite the fact that it was crafted in the heaviest of precious materials.
The 5270P became the only model available with an alligator leather strap, as its sibling, the 5270/1R-001 in rose gold would feature the Patek Philippe five-link goutte bracelet. The fully polished, full gold bracelet is completely integrated with the watch, as the correctors for adjusting the calendar are merged with the corresponding links on the bracelet.
The full rose gold watch and bracelet combination is honestly breathtaking if you haven’t encountered it before. A ebony black dial with a sunburst finish absorbs all excess light from the watch, so that only things that shine and stand out are the indicators and the rose gold case, bracelet, indexes and hands.
2020 – A New 5270
This year, Patek Philippe is introducing several new models. These are some, if not all, that it had planned to present originally at now-cancelled Baselworld fair. The three biggest pieces so far are the 5270J in yellow gold, the 5370P-011 in blue grand feu enamel dial, and the new reference 5303, which we had a sneak peek of at the Singapore Grand Exhibition last year. (That model was a limited edition of 12 pieces.)
We’ll discuss those watches later – they deserve plenty of personal attention – but the 5270J is something that’s overdue. The soft, warm hues of the yellow gold case gives the watch a stately presence, in some ways even more than the 5270/1R does. The silver opaline dial, yellow gold indexes and hands all give this watch an almost nostalgic but formal attitude.
What stands out with this model is on the back of the watch, where the case and movement’s finished components in the same hue almost seem to merge, as if case and movement are one.
With the yellow gold edition of this watch, powered by the same CH29-535 PS Q calibre, three different precious metal variants of the 5270 are now all available at the same time, two on alligator leather straps and one in a full gold bracelet. They are each striking in their own ways, designed to appeal to different Patek Philippe collectors. Whichever you prefer, the 5270 is an excellent example of the brand’s skill at developing a watch for many audiences.
Written by Darren Ho
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