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Patek Philippe - Reference 5212A-001

Patek Philippe Reference 5212A-001

Discover the specificities of this timepiece through the expert eye of Christophe Persoz.

At Baselworld 2019, Patek Philippe presented an amazing little complication housed in a steel Calatrava case. An unusual choice that has not been seen for many years in a movement featuring this level of complexity within the collection. While this strategy offers an interesting alternative to the important position occupied by the Aquanaut and Nautilus collections and their waiting lists, Reference 5212A-001 pays the way for a range of watches that could prove to be as relevant as they are legitimate.   

Référence 5212A-001

Reference 5212A-001 © GMT Publishing/Joy Corthésy

EXTERIOR 

Apart from the choice of stainless steel in this collection, there are no real surprises in terms of this watch’s external components. The collection’s emblematic design remains faithful to the most understated existing interpretations. The moderate sizing of the case is certainly one of the major assets of the 5212. Its 40mm diameter places it firmly in step with a current trend that meets the expectations of an international clientele. The dial is seamlessly integrated with the case, endowing it with an extremely pleasing retro-style personality. Its silvery opaline finish is a success and the hour-markers as well as the blackened dauphine hands create a discreetly elegant contrast. The size, design and materials clearly evoke the 1930s and the golden age of the Geneva-based brand, a feeling reinforced by the bold and judicious choice of a calf leather strap.

Référence 5212A-001

Reference 5212A-001 © GMT Publishing/Joy Corthésy

MOVEMENT

The 26-330 caliber powering this 5212 is announced as a new movement. It is in fact a very beautiful evolution of the 324 caliber. The improvements relate to a device ensuring an antivibration device for the seconds hand. Produced using LIGA micro-fabrication, the friction spring is replaced with an antibacklash third wheel featuring delicately split sprung teeth to prevent ‘chatter’ (vibration) in the seconds hand. A solution that has already proven itself in various mechanisms used by many brands. Other notable features include the appearance of a balance-stop mechanism and an optimized automatic winding system. Despite the heralded reduction in friction, the power reserve remains between 35 and 45 hours. It is the choice of functions that makes this watch so interesting, with a triple calendar and a weekly calendar. The date is thus displayed in a window logically positioned at 3 o’clock. A short hammer-shaped hand points to the day of the week, while on the periphery the number of the week and the month are indicated by a single hand of the same design. There is no annual or perpetual calendar in this case, but a choice of extremely useful functions that are also legible and easy to use. The mechanism is regulated by the now traditional Gyromax® balance coupled with the Spiromax® balance spring oscillating at 28,800 vibrations per hour. 

Référence 5212A-001

Calibre 26-330 © Patek Philippe

TESTS 

While we found no significant changes in terms of chronometry or autonomy with respect to the 324 caliber, this movement features appreciable improvements. The automatic winding system is even more efficient and the seconds hand moves in a clear-cut, regular manner. Function adjustment is intelligently distributed between the crown, which serves to set the time and date disks, and two correctors positioned at 8 and 10 o’clock respectively correcting the day of the week and the weekday and month hand, making handling both practical and intuitive. Wearer comfort is exemplary in terms of the size as well as the ergonomic design of the watch.  

Référence 5212A-001

Référence 5212A-001 © Patek Philippe

Although the 5212A-001 does not represent a revolution in terms of technicality or functions, that is in fact the whole point of this useful, reliable and functional watch. Patek Philippe dares here to make a pivotal choice that no doubt many collectors have been waiting for from the major manufacturers. With this new reference, the Geneva-based watchmaker is proving that it is possible to make an Haute Horlogerie watch that is simple in terms of its functions and design. A concept that might seem obvious, yet which the Swiss watch industry as a whole may have forgotten when embarking on a frantic race for technological innovation that implied constantly upping the ante in terms of complications and new materials. Many collectors have grown weary of that approach and this 5212A is one of the noblest answers they have ever received.

 

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