Collector’s Guides • 12 Apr 2017
A Quick Guide To The 2017 Patek Philippe Collection
True to form Patek Philippe presented a diverse line-up at Baselworld 2017, the annual trade fair that’s the world’s largest watch and jewellery show. But instead of an ultra-complex wristwatch headlining the collection, Patek Philippe gave pride of place to the Aquanaut Travel Time ref. 5650G “Advanced Research” – a wristwatch that encapsulates Patek Philippe’s embrace of technology.
The fifth watch in the Advanced Research series – watches intended to showcase the watchmaker’s latest movement innovations – the Aquanaut Travel Time is distinguished by its compliant mechanism for setting the time zone.
While the ordinary Travel Time requires 37 components for the second time zone mechanism made up of various springs and levers, the Advanced Research version uses just 12. That’s because the bulk of the moving parts have been condensed into a complex but flexible structure – the compliant mechanism.
Produced as a single piece, the compliant mechanism improves reliability while cutting the time needed for assembly and adjustment – a necessity given Patek Philippe’s success and scale.
Additionally, because it is made of steel, the compliant mechanism can be decorated like a traditional movement component, though the smaller size means there’s less to work on and admire.
Functionally it is identical to the conventional Aquanaut Travel Time, showing two time zones, with a pair of buttons on the case side to set the second time zone. What makes it special is revealed via the cut-out on the dial, a first for Patek Philippe but much to the chagrin of traditionalists.
Though a limited edition of just 500 watches in white gold, the Aquanaut Travel Time “Advanced Research” likely points towards the future of Patek Philippe’s watchmaking.
Another Aquanaut also made its debut at Baselworld, albeit on less technically notable. Intended to mark the 20th anniversary of the model, the Aquanaut ref. 5168G is an enlarged version of the existing model, with a 42mm case in white gold, as well as a graduated blue dial featuring applied hour and five-minute markers in white gold. It’s probable the upgrades found in this anniversary model will filter down to more affordable steel models in the future.
But while looking towards the future, Patek Philippe also has one eye firmly on historical artisanal skills its Rare Handcrafts, a line-up that includes clocks and watches decorated in enamel. Amongst the unusual additions to the Rare Handcrafts collection is the Calatrava “Azulejos” ref. 5089G.
The Calatrava “Azulejos” features a trompe l’oeil dial made of intricately painted miniature enamel. Each dial is made to look a wall of Azulejos, glazed ceramic tilework native to Spain and Portugal.
Executed in blue and white like many Azulejos, the watch dials are painted by hand with a brush tipped with a single badge hair, and then fired dozens of time to set each layer of enamel. The detailed work mimics ceramic tilework to an extraordinary degree, leaving each dial seemingly composed of tiny tiles.
Depicting either a barge or a porter, the pair of Azulejos watches are a departure from the typical Patek Philippe enameled wristwatch, which typically rely on bright colours and the cloisonné technique to depict animals or flowers. Take for instance the World Time ref. 5131/1P that was also new for the year – it depicts a map of the world in multi-hued enamel with the continents outlined in gold wire. The restrained palette of the Calatrava “Azulejos” is a welcome detour from the usual fare.
Another new launch that is unusual for Patek Philippe is the Perpetual Calendar ref. 5320G. Modelled watches from the 1950s, particularly the one-off ref. 1591, the new perpetual calendar is one of the few Patek Philippe timepieces that’s almost a remake of a vintage timepiece. It’s all the more unusual given Patek Philippe has tended towards more contemporary styles for its recent complications.
With pencil-shaped hands and Arabic numerals, the ref. 5320G is distinctly retro in style, thought constructed like a modern watch. Both the hands are numerals are made of black-coated 18k gold, while the cream dial is not the result of patina but instead a glossy lacquer.
Notably, the same cream colour also made its way to a pair of minute repeaters, the refs. 5078 and 5178. But instead of lacquer, they have dials made of fired enamel – with solid gold hands and numerals naturally. The cream dials give the pair a retro feel that’s rarely found on other minute repeaters by Patek Philippe.
A much more imaginative interpretation of vintage design can be found on the ref. 5372 that boasts both a split-seconds chronograph and perpetual calendar.
Powered by the admirably thin CHR 27 movement, the watch features oversized chronograph sub-dials, Arabic numerals and dauphine hands, a combination of elements drawn from vintage Patek Philippe watches that have rarely been combined before. The result is one that will appeal to those who find the more classically styled models, well, overly classical.
Learn more about the Patek Philippe Advanced Research here.
For more information, please speak with our Sales Consultant here or visit us at any one of our boutiques.