The Patek Philippe Ref. 5316/50P-001 Minute Repeater, Tourbillon, and Retrograde Perpetual Calendar in platinum case. | Cortina Watch
Over the centuries, Patek Philippe has constantly refined its designs to find the perfect balance between classic and contemporary. With each generation of collectors, and as new trends take shape in watchmaking, the watchmaker has carefully added new and often unexpected design innovations to its collections while maintaining the traditional crafts that Genevan watchmaking holds dear.
This year’s high and grand complication models demonstrate just how Patek Philippe continually renews its products with designs that draw admiration from collectors young and old, new and veteran alike.
The triple complication combination has a long history within Patek Philippe, first emerging in 1993 as the most complicated wristwatch produced by the watchmaker at the time. The original Ref. 5016 was succeeded by the Ref. 5216 in 2011 and the Ref. 5316 in 2017. The Ref. 5316 combines some of the best elements of both predecessor references, such as the stepped lugs and faceted baton markers.
But one key difference in the Ref. 5316 is the larger case volume at 40.2mm, which improves the resonation of the minute repeater’s gongs. In the Ref. 5316P-001, the entire dial was in black enamel, which offers a classic and timeless rendition of this grand complication. This year, the Ref. 5316/50P-001 gets a dial redesign that adds even more depth to the watch and oozes sophistication.
Firstly, Patek Philippe has done away with the typical dial and opted for blue metallised sapphire crystal with a graduated black rim. The result allows you to get a slight peek into the perpetual calendar’s moving parts, which you can enjoy daily at midnight as the calendar jumps. But most importantly, what most people will not realise is that the plate on which the retrograde date is printed is in fact an incredibly thin sliver of jet black onyx, carefully sliced and cut, then polished in order to set it with the day and month apertures. This little touch of jewellery craft demonstrates how modern technology and handcrafted components co-exist perfectly on a Patek Philippe watch.
According to Patek Philippe, designing and creating the dial of this watch, in particular the onyx plate of the retrograde date, was one of the most challenging and time-consuming tasks for this timepiece. With the retrograde perpetual calendar taking up the front of the watch, the rest of the movement can be observed on the caseback. The Calatrava cross governor of the repeater is positioned at 12 o’clock, and the tourbillon at 6 o’clock, housed behind the moonphase and small seconds display. The watch is powered by the Caliber R TO 27 PS QR, which has been further improved in the last 30 years using technologies such as the Gyromax balance.
What’s truly impressive about this movement is how slim Patek Philippe has managed to keep it. At just 28mm wide and 8.64mm thick, this enables the watch to remain relatively slim. The power reserve is up to 48 hours, despite the considerable resources the watch uses to drive all four displays of the calendar daily and especially at the end of each month, when the retrograde date hand has to make a big swing back to the 1st of the following month.
The stepped case middle and lugs add to the layered feel of the watch, making this a truly modern take on a classic timepiece. Comparing it with the Ref. 5316P-001, one can immediately see how they are alike at their core, but the Ref. 5316/50P-001 has a new and highly modern architecture, design-wise.
A Two-Toned Grandmaster Chime
In a completely unexpected move, Patek Philippe has given its most complex wristwatch to date a refreshingly modern translation using a trend that has been gaining popularity among sports-chic and sports-luxe watches – the two-toned watch.
The mix of two differently coloured metals on a sporty timepiece elevates it in style without losing any functional benefit. But where two-toned watches typically use a combination of steel and gold, Patek Philippe has clad the Grandmaster Chime in two different types of gold – white and rose gold. And the way it has done so makes this ultra complicated timepiece feel sporty, modern, and classic all at the same time.
In terms of design, the watch is pretty much the same as the original watch, with a triple-stepped middle link across the watch’s chamfered and horned lugs, hand-guilloched case middle with Clous de Paris pattern, and flat bevelled bezel. The case, bezel and caseback are all made from white gold, while the middle link, crown and pushers are in rose gold. Every surface is polished to a mirror finish, which reflects the warm yellow hues of the rose gold elements onto the cool white gold case and enhances the watch further.
The dials of the watch are in chocolate brown with rose gold hands and accents, while the display counters are in white. The time-telling side of the watch has two time zones, power reserve displays for the movement, grand and petite sonnerie, alarm, date, and moonphase indicator. On the reverse is the complete perpetual calendar display. This is a watch that both flaunts its presence, but also remains a discreet and luxurious wrist partner.
A New Gemset Grandmaster Chime
But if you’re looking for a bold expression of the Grandmaster Chime and one that also showcases Patek Philippe’s mastery of high jewellery watchmaking, the Ref. 6300/403G-001 delivers with a stunning display of vivid green emeralds and glittering diamonds.
This isn’t the first high jewellery Grandmaster Chime model – last year, a model set fully in diamonds and a second in diamonds with sapphires were introduced. This year, the watch’s bezel is set in twin circles of verdant green featuring 118 baguette-cut emeralds totalling 7.87 carats along with 291 baguette-cut diamonds totalling 20.54 carats. They are all set using an invisible setting, without any external prongs to secure the stones.
This is an even greater challenge for jewellers because emeralds are renowned to be the most fragile of the precious stones, and therefore raise the bar for each jewel that’s set to be carefully positioned and secured. In an invisible setting, the gold on the watch is pressed down on the stones in lieu of visible prongs, and then removed and finished by hand to ensure the stones enjoy maximum visibility. These steps make the invisible setting using emeralds an even more arduous process for the watchmaker’s skilled jewellers.
Every part of the case, lugs, bezel and reverse dial is covered. The calendar display side of the watch features diamonds instead of emeralds, and the buckle of the watch features the Calatrava cross encircled by emeralds. Both the two-toned and gem-set Grandmaster Chime models introduced this year are powered by the same Caliber 300 GS AL 36-750 QIS FUS IRM movement that features a 3-day power reserve and four-digit perpetual calendar year – a rarity even among grand complications. They also come with matching Calatrava cross cufflinks – a sophisticated addition for an elegant evening.
The Ref. 5531 was first introduced in 2017 at the Watch Art Grand Exhibition held in New York and remains a unique watch in the entire industry. Not only is it a rare presentation of two complications Patek Philippe is renowned for, it is also a world-first design of a minute repeater that chimes the local time rather than the home time. This is achieved by using the time zone wheel of the world time complication to advance the hour snail cam of the minute repeater.
The Caliber R 27 HU that powers the Ref. 5531G-001 has a city ring in white and 24-hour ring in white and blue for day and night time, indicating the time in every zone across the world easily. The operation of the world time complication is a design developed by Louis Cottier back in 1931 and made for Patek Philippe since 1937.
But even beyond the two powerful high complications featured in this watch, the Ref. 5531 is prized for its beautiful enamel paintings that depict scenes typically of the areas around Lake Geneva. The Ref. 5531R featured a sailboat along the Lavaux vineyards, and the Ref. 5531G-001 depicts a steamship of the Belle Epoque fleet that still sails on Lake Geneva, cruising the waters at sunset.
Cloisonné enamel refers to the use of gold wire to create the outlines of each hand-painted scene, following which the enameller mixes ground metallic oxide powders suspended in liquid and paints them to create the final image. This work takes hours and repeated coatings, which are fired in a small kiln to melt the vitreous enamel and harden it. The finished artwork is lustrous and vivid, smooth and everlasting.
By merging its traditional crafts with modern design, Patek Philippe has demonstrated that it is ready to embrace a new era of watch design and collecting. Contact a sales representative today to learn more.