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Patek Philippe - The bicompax is back, in vintage livery

Patek Philippe The bicompax is back, in vintage livery

The Geneva manufacture is bringing back an essential chronograph: the two-pusher bicompax. It’s a solid classic, and one that collectors have been anticipating for years.

All in good time – the phrase is a pretty neat summary of Patek Philippe’s approach. The manufacture, whose output is capped at 60,000 pieces per year, releases watches according to its own unhurried schedule. That explains why it has waited until now to bring out a classic watch beloved by all collectors: the two-pusher bicompax chronograph. The latest reference of this type from Patek Philippe came out in 2017 – and that was a rather elitist version in platinum. The more traditional gold version (5170R-001), which dates back to 2016, was shelved two years later.

A highly anticipated return

Today, Baselworld 2019 sees the long-awaited return of the 5170, or specifically, the 5172G-001. Why the new reference? There are many reasons. The most visible is that this is the first time this chronograph has been offered with a blue dial. It was a predictable development: recently, we’ve seen a lot of blue dials from Patek Philippe. In 2018 alone, the maison launched Grand Complication, Complication, Aquanaut, Nautilus and Twenty-4 watches with blue dials. That’s practically every collection bar the Calatrava. A blue version of the 5170 chronograph is therefore a logical development.

The bicompax is back, in vintage livery

5172G-001 © Patek Philippe

Small touches, big changes

It’s a logical development, but it does nevertheless represent a new chapter, and one that is significantly different from previous ones. Patek Philippe is known for making infinitesimal modifications to its models, which are catnip to collectors who track them fastidiously. This game of “spot the difference” will be somewhat easier with the new 5172. Apart from the obvious blue dial, the manufacture has opted to revert to Arabic numerals, which have been off the menu for the last three years, and indeed have only featured twice since the model was created in 2010.

The bicompax is back, in vintage livery

© Patek Philippe

Vintage cachet

This choice seems to be driven by Patek Philippe’s wish to give the 5172 more of a vintage than a classic look – another trend we observed last year with the pilots’ watches, and the clearly vintage 5524 and 7234. This direction is confirmed by the 5172 which, in addition to its Arabic numerals, features “mushroom” pushers, a reference to the 1920–1960 period, and a totally new approach for the collection, given that up to now Patek Philippe has always used rectangular pushers, without exception.

The bicompax is back, in vintage livery

© Patek Philippe

And there’s another discreet revolution: the pushers feature an individual guilloché pattern, with a sunburst motif that recalls the onion crowns of vintage aviator timepieces. Guilloché pushers are a first for Patek Philippe, which up to now has stuck with the engraved Calatrava cross on the crown. In parallel, the new 5172G sports a sapphire box crystal, a shape that was popular up to around the middle of the 20th century.

The bicompax is back, in vintage livery

© Patek Philippe

The final modification, and another major first for a Patek Philippe chronograph, is the triple-stepped case lugs. This art deco-inspired construction is further confirmation of the vintage appeal of the 5172G. The effect that the lugs bring to the case as a whole is unusual, but it remains undeniably Patek Philippe.

The bicompax is back, in vintage livery

© Patek Philippe

New timepiece, same movement

The movement is identical to previous versions. The 5172G is a hand-wound chronograph equipped with the calibre CH 29-535 PS (for Petite Seconde), which is Patek Philippe’s first classic chronograph movement, created in 2009 (column wheel, horizontal clutch).  It comes in a 41 mm diameter white gold case, another element that has remained unchanged for this reference since 2016. The new version replaces the previous reference of this chronograph, which was available in platinum.

The bicompax is back, in vintage livery

© Patek Philippe

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