Patek Philippe 2010 – 2020 : The top 5 Patek Phillipe timepiece of the decade.
Worldtempus is taking a look back at the past decade to pick the most interesting, relevant and outstanding achievements of several major brands. We start our series with Patek Philippe.
It's been an epic decade for Patek Philippe, during which they've really been on top of their game. For the past ten years, with at least one timepiece each time, they've proved that they're...well, the boss. Because when it comes to innovation, complication, shapes, ladies and surprises, they have established themselves as leaders. And made fools out of those who spread the word that the brand is resting on their laurels and never venturing out of their comfort zone.
Spiromax-Pulsomax © Patek Philippe
As part of the consortium that acquired the rights to exploit the silicon manufacturing patents, Patek Philippe has gone the extra mile. They didn't just do a hairspring, or an anchor. They designed a whole series of components, from scratch, with exclusive designs, all of them unlike any other around, all of them critical to the inner workings and higher accuracy of a mechanical movement. Under the Umbrella “Advanced Research”, they're called Spiromax, Pulsomax and Gyromax. First implemented on pilot projects like the 5550P perpetual calendar, they have quickly spread to the brand's mainstream output. Conservative much ?
Advanced Research Reference 5550P Perpetual Calendar © Patek Philippe
Released for the brand's 175th anniversary, the 5175 Grandmaster Chime is a monster of a timepiece. It has the size that comes with it, measuring a mere 47.4 mm wide and 16.1 mm thick. And that's while being reversible. But that's just the point. The watch is so complex, so thorough it couldn't possibly remain readable and manageable with only one dial. I'll let you be the judge of that : Grande and Petite Sonnerie, minute repeater, date repeater (yes!) and an alarm. Perpetual calendar with moonphase, 4-digit year and off-centered hours and minutes, all on their own dial. Plus various power reserve indicators and a second timezone for good measure. Originally released in an engraved case that couldn't have been to everyone's liking, it is now available in a cleaner gold case. And it is way up there. Simple much ?
5175 Grandmaster Chime © David Chokron/Worldtempus
5175 Grandmaster Chime © David Chokron/Worldtempus
Yes, the Nautilus comes to mind because it's on everybody's mind. So does the Aquanaut because it is following in the other's footsteps. And they are both available for ladies. But the Ellipse d'Or is the true exercise in shape-watch design here. It' barely just a case band and a paper-thin bezel. And yet! It's all about the shape itself, the proportions, the curvature of that rectangle that had a gorgeous baby with a circle. Especially in the larger size, rose gold and slate-grey sunburst dial version, it is plain classy, which is in my mind one of the things Patek is all about. Classic much ?
5738R Golden Ellipse © David Chokron/Worldtempus
Indeed it was a momentous occasion. Patek's 175th anniversary was the perfect occasion to release a timepiece that came as a surprise to everyone because it was odd, ornamental, unusually complicated and by many respects, a first for Patek Philippe. The Chiming Jump Hour 5275P had jumping hours, jumping minutes, deadbeat seconds, all thanks to a force constante mechanism, plus a sonnerie au passage, a tonneau case and a flower-stamped dial. Typical much ?
5275P Chiming Jump Hour © David Chokron/Worldtempus
One way to look at it is saying that the past decade has seen Patek shifting to serious ladies' timepieces. Truth is, that ambition had started in 2009 with their fitting of their first in-house hand-wound chronograph in the square, gem-set Ladies First Chronograph. But that proved to be a statement, and not a lasting commitment. The 2013 ref. 7130 World Time, on the other hand, is much more deeply rooted in the watchmaking culture of Patek Philippe, and has been on offer non-stop in various guises during the past seven years. It is also very Patek : understated, balanced, heavy in the watchmaking content department, really functional and successful.
7130R World Time © David Chokron/Worldtempus
The one that got away
It can be argued that many other timepieces should have been included on this Top 5. Of course. But beyond the matter of taste, only one might have that I feel shouldn't. It's the 5711A, the steel, three-hands Nautilus. Yes it is immensely popular. Yes it trades for twice the MSRP in any greymarket shop. Yes it's an icon and therefore, a fantasy of sorts. But the fact that it has become an overwhelming success doesn't make it an achievement, neither in design or technicity or even balance. And there's nothing really new about it.
Patek Philippe enjoys outstanding renown and rare prestige, due to the constancy with which the Manufacture has applied its philosophy of excellence ever since it was founded.Find out more >
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