Patek Philippe Twenty~4 Automatic Ref. 7300
Think about the Patek Philippe Twenty~4 collection and you think o – wait, what collection now? That is exactly what most enthusiasts would say when asked about what is one of the Genevan manufacturer’s most commercially successful lines. The harsh truth is that while the Twenty~4 collection pays the bills, it is one of, if not the least recognised in Patek Philippe’s catalogue. Most popular among female clients (it is marketed towards women after all), the Twenty~4 features a rectangular case that is integrated into a bracelet and is powered by a quartz movement. Indeed, mention the word “quartz” and you’ve lost the attention of 95% of hardcore watch enthusiasts.
This year, in efforts to rejuvenate the identity of the Twenty~4 collection, Patek Philippe has introduced the Twenty~4 Automatic – and with it comes drastic changes. Here, we bring you all the details and our thoughts on Patek Philippe’s new Twenty~4 Automatic Ref. 7300.
The Case, Dial, and Hands
Gone is the rectangular case and in comes a round one. While it is a notable departure from the old design, the integrated aesthetic remains intact as the bracelet flows seamlessly from the case and lugs. The case and bezel are cold-formed in high-tonnage presses and then machined to refine the contours before being manually polished. The type of setting utilised by Patek Philippe on the bezel is called “Dentelle” (lacework style), which produces two row configurations of offset diamonds. At 36 mm in diameter, the case is contemporarily feminine. These days, 36 mm seems to be the unspoken threshold between a dainty men’s watch and a modern ladies’ watch; suffice to say that Patek Philippe are keeping up with the times with this new release. The watch isn’t exactly thin at 10.05 mm in height – having to accommodate an automatic movement – but should still slide under most sleeves with ease. Like the rest of 2018 Patek Philippe novelties, the Twenty~4 Automatic is fitted with the brand’s new patented fold-over clasp, with four independent catches that prevent accidental release and optimise handling.
Depending on the model, the dial comes in either blue, grey, brown, or silver. In the stainless steel variants, the dial features a sunburst finish while in the rose gold variants with silver dial, it is treated to a textural “Shantung” finish (double vertical and horizontal satin finish). Indicating the time are bold aviator-style numerals and baton hands, all of which come with Superluminova coating for low- or no-light visibility. There’s also the date window at 6 o’clock where the 6th hour marker would normally be. These days, implementing a date window on a watch is akin to walking on a minefield, one misstep and “boom”, the watch community explodes in fiery dissent. Fortunately, with the Twenty~4 Automatic, sufficient care has been taken with regards to the placement of the date window. It’s presence is inconspicuous and does not disrupt the balance of the dial. Patek Philippe could’ve saved themselves the headache by releasing a time-only piece – a win-win situation, you’d think. But lets not ignore the fact that this is a watch marketed to the modern woman; it’d be a mistake to not have the most pragmatic complication in watchmaking be present on the dial.
Overall, we feel that the Twenty~4 Automatic is a well-designed watch, albeit with nothing earth-shattering to shout out about. Given that the watch is aimed at modern, active women, the use of sportier-looking numerals and hands is most fitting. We particularly like the Shantung finishing on the silver dial as it is somewhat of a breath of fresh air from the usual sunburst or matte finished dials – it just looks more sophisticated and decadent.
Powering the Twenty~4 Automatic is the 217-part, 29-jewel Calibre 324 S C. The Calibre 324 S C is the brand’s go-to, basic self-winding movement that is also found in the time-only Aquanauts and Nautiluses. To have it power the Twenty~4 Automatic equates to a proud step forward for Patek Philippe’s ladies collection. The movement has a power reserve of at least 35 hours and operates at a modern 4 Hz beat rate. Naturally, it also boasts some of the fruits of Patek Philippe’s endeavours into modern watchmaking, namely the Gyromax balance and the Spiromax hairspring.
Stamped with the Patek Philippe Seal, the Calibre 324 S C is guaranteed to perform with the highest level of precision and dependability. It also means that it exhibits superlative finissage. Visibile through the case back are Geneva waves across the bridges with chamfered edges, circular waves and an engraved Calatrava cross on the 21K gold central rotor, and perlage on the base plate, among other decorative elements.
The Competitive Landscape
Watch-collecting continues to be a male-dominant hobby in this day and age. True as that may be, the number of female enthusiasts, collectors and even watchmakers is rapidly increasing. It is not good enough anymore to leave female clients hanging with only oversized men’s mechanical watches or quartz jewellery watches to choose from. The Twenty~4 Automatic fills this gap fantastically for Patek Philippe, with multiple variations to suit most tastes and budgets. The stainless steel variants (blue or grey dial) retail at USD26,083 while the rose gold variants (brown or silver dial) come in at USD45,361. A more opulent rose gold model with diamonds set not only in the bezel, but also the lugs and bracelet is priced at USD56,702. The Twenty~4 Automatic joins a rare but ever-growing breed of serious ladies mechanical timepieces. The question is, is it good enough to compete?
Also pining for the attention and coin of clients is the Jaeger-LeCoultre Rendez-vous Sonatina. While it is at the cusp of being oversized for the average ladies’ wrist at 38.5 mm x 10.59 mm, it is well-proportioned. And given the complications that it houses, we’d say it’s fair game. The watch boasts not just a day/night indicator, but also an alarm function. Functional and sophisticated, the Sonatina is perfect for the collector who wants more than just a pretty face on her wrist. Doubly fortunate for said collector, as the Sonatina also has a gorgeous dial. The dials are expertly hand-decorated with engine-turned guilloché, and carry a star, which is moved around the dial by the second crown to mark the time of the appointment. At the appointed time, the watch releases a delicate strike to remind the owner of her rendezvous. Of course, when it comes to movement finishing, the Calibre 735 that powers the Sonatina is no match for a Patek Philippe Seal movement like the Calibre 324 S C. But for the price of SGD42,500 (or USD30,750) for the rose gold version (with fewer diamonds), trading ultra-high end finishing for added movement complexity and functionality doesn’t sound so bad.
Then there’s the A. Lange & Söhne Little Lange 1, perhaps the overachiever of the bunch. This year, the illustrious young German brand launched new variants of its mini-Lange 1s in three striking colours, with guilloche dial and the updated Lange 1 movement. The watch is essentially the same as the legendary Lange 1 except for its smaller case size of 36.8 mm. It features an instantaneously jumping outsize date and a power reserve display laid out in the famous asymmetrical format of the Lange 1. Unlike the movements inside the Sonatina or the Twenty~4 Automatic, the Calibre L121.1 powering the Little Lange 1 is manually wound. Another significant difference is in the standard of movement finishing; it is objectively superior to the Patek Philippe and vastly superior to the Sonatina. The Little Lange 1 is priced at EUR32,500 or USD37,130, which is a ‘Little’ less than the regular rose gold Twenty~4 Automatic. In our opinion, if you’re in the market for ladies’ timepieces from ultra-high end brands, the Little Lange 1 is a must-consider given the perks it offers relative to its price.
Feminine and yet contemporary, the Twenty~4 Automatic injects youth into Patek Philippe’s dignified ladies’ collection. The watch will appeal to women searching for a casual yet demure timepiece – and those who are beyond jewel-encrusted quartz watches.