The annual calendar is one of the most underappreciated complications in watchmaking, and one of the most practical.
Developed and patented by Patek Philippe in 1996, it sits above the simple and grand date calendars. Those indicators require adjustment on months which have fewer than 31 days, while the annual calendar requires adjustment only once a year, at the end of February to 1st March.
The Patek Philippe Ref. 5261R
Patek Philippe’s first annual calendar was in the Ref. 5035J in yellow gold, powered by the Caliber 315 S QA. The complication has expanded in Patek Philippe’s range of timepieces since, appearing in several movements. Its latest annual calendar model comes in the Aquanaut Luce collection, which was launched in 2004 as an Aquanaut model catered to ladies.
A quick glance reveals the distinct layout of the calendar in this timepiece. While most annual or perpetual calendar models have the moonphase displayed at the bottom of the dial, here it’s given top listing at the 12 o’clock position above the Patek Philippe logo. This might be because moonphase complications are often associated with ladies’ watches. To do this, Patek Philippe inverted the Annual Calendar module on the movement, and thus the date display sits at 6 o’clock instead.
The watch is powered by the self-winding Caliber 26-330 S QA LU, which sees the complication added to Patek Philippe’s Caliber 26-330 base movement. Since its creation, the movement has been used in 17 other models from the Calatrava Pilot to the Aquanaut, coupled on occasion with other complications. The movement has a power reserve of up to 45 hours.
While the 39.9mm Aquanaut Luce model is touted as a ladies’ watch, it’s really a unisex timepiece with its elegant design, layout, and the cool blue-grey dial and strap that’s used on the watch. The eccentric layout of the calendar really stands out among Patek Philippe’s annual calendar watch models and highlights a complication that is getting greater attention from the watchmaker today.
The Patek Philippe Ref. 5905R
Another annual calendar model that was introduced this year is the Ref. 5905R Annual Calendar with Flyback Chronograph. First created in 2015, the watch has been released in platinum as well as steel models. The platinum edition of the watch has been discontinued, which is why the watchmaker is now presenting the Ref. 5905 in a new precious material.
The dial of the Ref. 5905R comes in a sunburst blue with circular graining on the subdial, a 60-minute totaliser for the chronograph. Three apertures across the top indicate the day, date, and month in Patek Philippe’s standard format, positioned alongside the chamfered hour indexes. It also has a day/night indicator in an aperture placed within the totaliser counter. A minute track is marked out around the main display with luminous dots.
The watch runs on the Caliber CH 28-520 QA 24H, Patek Philippe’s in-house chronograph with vertical clutch and column-wheel control. The movement’s design means that the amplitude of the movement does not dip significantly when the chronograph is running, so you can use the central chronograph seconds hand as a running seconds if you wish. The self-winding movement has a maximum power reserve of 55 hours, with a full gold oscillating weight visible via the exhibition caseback.
Like the steel and platinum models that have come before it, the 42mm sized case is fully polished with gently curved lugs and a concave bezel, with correctors for the calendar on the left of the case middle. The watch is paired with a blue alligator leather strap and prong buckle. With both a bracelet and strap option for the Ref. 5905, collectors can pick their preferred option.
The Patek Philippe Ref. 6007G
When the Ref. 6007 Calatrava was first introduced in 2019, it came in a limited edition steel model dedicated to the opening of the PP6 manufacture. The Ref. 6007A-001 featured a trendy “carbon fibre” motif that was stamped on the satin-finished dial. This was a brand new design for Patek Philippe at the time.
Four years later, the motif has become a signature of the brand, much like the traditional handcrafts the watchmaker still practices today such as guilloché à main. This year, the watchmaker is introducing new references of the Calatrava Date in white gold, with three colour variations that highlight the vibrant colour trends growing in the industry today.
On the black sunray brushed dial, the watch display is divided into three rings that surround a stamped carbon fibre motif centre. A minute track features coloured markings in alternating rows, with applied Arabic numerals in an inner ring. A secondary inner minute track features triangular markers in the same colour accent as the seconds hand. The Ref. 6007G-001 has a bright yellow colour accent, while the Ref. 6007G-010 and Ref. 6007G-011 have red and sky blue accents respectively.
The case of the Ref. 6007G is mirror polished from all angles highlighting the perfect balance of Patek Philippe’s Calatrava case design, which has a legacy of over 90 years. A matching calf leather strap is embossed with the same carbon fibre motif and matching colour stitching and back as the dial details. It’s the first time the watchmaker has introduced a strap like this, making the Ref. 6007G a bold debut for a new design.
The watch is powered by the Caliber 26-330 S C with a sweep seconds and date window at 3 o’clock. This sturdy movement has a power reserve of up to 45 hours, with a full gold oscillating weight that can be observed from the exhibition caseback of the watches. The movement bears the Patek Philippe Seal, a hallmark of finishing and precision that guarantees the quality of each Patek Philippe watch that leaves the manufacture.
The Patek Philippe Ref. 4997/200R-001
Along with the pop of colours used in its Calatrava watches, Patek Philippe is also adding new colours to more classic models such as the Ladies’ Calatrava. The Ref. 4997 was first presented by the brand in 2009 and enjoyed a refresh two years ago with the Ref. 4997/200G-001 in white gold.
The Ref. 4997/200G introduced a new dial decoration to the watch, a concentric wave-like pattern that spreads from the centre of the dial. The embossed design is further enhanced with layers of hand-applied transparent lacquer, which enhances the light reflecting off each wave surface in a sunburst-like manner.
The display is further strengthened by the use of rose gold applied indexes along the edges of each wave, with the arrow indexes pointing outwards rather than inwards, creating a radiating effect that’s stunning.
The 35mm rose gold case has a slim bezel to emphasise the dial’s prominence, with a row of 76 diamonds set on it totalling 0.55 carats. An exhibition caseback showcases the Caliber 240, Patek Philippe’s ultra-thin movement which was first created in 1977. The aubergine dial and matching satin strap on the Ref. 4997/200R-001 are vividly outstanding, a powerful statement of how colour can influence the presence of a watch on one’s wrist.
The Patek Philippe Ref. 5178G-012
Along with the application of new dial finishes, Patek Philippe is also adding a rare handcraft to one of its high complication timepieces – the Ref. 5178 Minute Repeater. Patek Philippe’s minute repeaters are highly coveted due to their rarity as well as the process through which they are made and one can acquire a watch.
Chiming watches are produced by a handful of expert watchmakers at Patek Philippe. Each gong and hammer must be carefully adjusted and compared with a perfect chime, before the watches are assembled and individually heard by Mr Thierry Stern, President of Patek Philippe. Without his approval, these watches do not leave the manufacture.
The Ref. 5178G-012 is a cathedral minute repeater, which means the Caliber R 27 PS features gongs that are twice as long as a standard minute repeater. This gives the sound a richer and deeper tone. When the slider is activated, the hammers sound out the hours, quarters and minutes to tell the time.
The watch is housed in white gold, which is harder as well as less dense than pure yellow gold, making it a better conductor of sound. The lustrous material is matched by the elegance of the dial, which features flinqué enamel. This technique is rarely practiced today except by a handful of watchmakers including Patek Philippe. First, a precious metal dial is hand-engraved with a pattern using a rose engine; in this case, a swirling pattern.
Next, translucent enamel is applied with a fine brush and heated to harden the material. This is repeated over several times, and the enamel surface is polished to ensure it’s completely smooth. When light strikes the dial, the glossy enamel and guilloché dial reflect it in a myriad ways, creating a visual effect that makes the dial look like it is in constant motion.
Patek Philippe’s watches from this year showcase innovations and designs that are both trendy and timeless, with new and old techniques being brought to life through the application of colour, finishing, and more.