Just in: First impressions and Live pictures of the new Patek Philippe Ref. 5204R

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News of the new Patek Philippe Ref. 5204R-011 Split-seconds Chronograph with Perpetual Calendar was released last week. One unit just arrived in Singapore, and here is our hands on report with live photographs.

We only managed about 30 minutes with this spectacular watch, and thus will not offer our usual comprehensive review, but instead present a brief impression of the Patek Ref. 5204R-011. We also managed to spend a bit more time with the other two chronographs released viz Ref. 5905/1A-001 and the Ref. 5930P-001. We will be publishing detailed reviews of those in due time.

First impressions and Live pictures of the new Patek Philippe Ref. 5204R-011 Split-seconds Chronograph Perpetual Calendar

The Ref 5204 is one of Patek Philippe’s more sought after complicated watches, combining two of the maison’s signature complications – the chronograph and the perpetual calendar. The genealogy traces back to the Ref. 5004, which was a big “WOW” watch for us. A grail. Introduced in 1996, the Ref. 5004 was and still is considered an extremely complicated watch, and as a result was expensive to produce. Reputation is that Patek made no more than 12 a year during the 15 years it was on the catalog. The movement used was the Cal. CHR 27-70Q, derived from a base Lemania chronograph as was the norm in those days. But almost completely reconstructed by Patek while adding the split-seconds and perpetual calendar modules. And of course, finished to Patek’s exacting and very high standards. The reference was retired in 2011. And from 2012, the replacement model, the Ref. 5204 was released with an in-house designed and manufactured Cal. CHR 29-535 PS Q, with its traditional architecture (manual winding, two column wheels, horizontal clutch) combined with seven patented innovations. The launch model was released in two rose gold versions – one with a silvered opaline dial with a brown alligator strap (5204/001) and the other in an ebony black dial with rose gold Goutte (droplet) bracelet (5201/1R). Along the way a platinum model was released and discontinued, and featured as one of the prized watches in our Collector’s View: WatchTalk with Jeya Sivendra. The new 2021 model , the Ref. 5204R-011 is in polished rose gold case, and joins the other two rose gold models in the current catalog.

The case, dial and hands

The rose gold case measures 40mm in diameter and is hand polished. The round, three part case features a bombe style case middle. A concave bezel and two tier stepped lugs complete the design. The aesthetic is one with a beautiful dimensionality to the case.

The dial itself is in slate grey, with a sunburst finish radiating from the center. The layout is now classical. We find the colour combination of rose gold and slate grey (with the sunburst) to be very refined and very attractive. The balance of the hues is almost perfect, and while this is a busy dial, it is very well laid out and very legible.

The day and month are displayed in two in-line apertures at 12 o’clock. The date sub-dial at 6 o’clock incorporates an aperture for the moon-phase display. Small seconds and the instantaneous 30-minute counter appear on two subdials at 9 and 3 o’clock. Two small round apertures display the leap-year cycle between 4 and 5 o’clock and the day/night indication between 7 and 8 o’clock – functions required for accurate adjustment of the calendar. The applied hour markers and Dauphine styled hour and minute hands are SuperLuminova infilled.

While the hour and minute hands are infilled with Superluminova, the hands for the minor indications like the continuous seconds, chronograph and date are not. They are in a high polish rose gold, and in some angles, do not reflect light, and may seem to disappear. We also did not get the opportunity to do a lume shot.

The movement: Patek Philippe caliber CHR 29-535 PS Q

The movement is the caliber CHR 29-535 PS Q, first introduced in 2012 on the Ref. 5204P-001. This movement has the traditional architecture of a split seconds chronograph – manual winding, two column wheels and a horizontal clutch system. It distinguished itself with seven patents – six for the chronograph and for the split-seconds mechanism.

Feel of the chronograph is excellent. The pushers are smooth, and though it requires only a slight pressure to engage, provides sufficient feedback in a rather pleasurable “click” that it does not engage accidentally. The pressure required to engage the functions viz start, split, catchup, stop and reset are all judged to be equal. This is an indication to the meticulous care the watchmakers have taken to ensure that this difficult adjustment is perfected.

A black polished stainless steel cap covers the column wheel, as is the tradition for Patek Philippe Chronographs. The entire chronograph works is beautifully and magnificently displayed here.

Finishing is superb, as is the norm for Patek Philippe. All the standard haute horlogerie requirements on finnisage are met and greatly exceeded. The finishing is entirely executed by hand, and this can be seen and felt through the nuanced style of the completed movement. Magnificent.

Concluding thoughts

We spent a very short time with this magnificent watch. And though we did handle it, as is evident with the live photographs, we were extremely careful with the watch. We did not manipulate the posing for the photographs in our usual manner, but the overall impression we have on the Ref. 5204 -011 is very good. The design is classical. The movement is spectacular. And the look and feel of the watch on the hand is superb.

We gingerly strapped the watch on the Patek Philippe watchmaker’s wrist for this shot. Note that the strap is not cinched tight, as we did not want to bend the strap, and thus appear to be floating above his wrist.

The new Ref. 5204R-011 is delivered in a slate grey calf leather strap with an embossed alligator pattern, and a rose gold deployant buckle. It is available with an interchangeable sapphire glass and solid casebacks, and join the two existing versions in rose gold.

Photo Notes

Photographed today (!) at the Patek Philippe offices in Singapore. Fujifilm GFX 50S II with Hasselblad HC 4/120 Macro and HC 2.8/80 + H26 Extension tube attached via the H Adapter. Profoto Strobes.


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