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You never actually own a Patek Philippe
by Robin Lim on October 6, 2019

The recent Patek Philippe Watch Art Grand Exhibition is probably one of the most impressive exhibitions that we have seen in recent times. For those who have yet to do so, we certainly highly recommend you to visit it in Marina Bay Sands before October 13 this year.

There are a total of 10 theme rooms, each with a different set of exhibits – ranging from current collection, historically important pieces, to the demonstrations of each classic watch art. More details can be found here.

Following the visit to the exhibition, there is no doubt about where Patek Philippe stands in our hearts. With a brand that is so deeply rooted in its rich heritage, as well as the creation of some of the most technically-challenging timepieces that we have seen, the Geneva-based watch manufacturer is no doubt one of the best in this business. But it goes beyond just the watch itself. It’s much more than that.

Hence, in this week’s column, we decide to pay tribute to one of the most venerable watch manufacturers in the world. What are some of our favourite Patek Philippe timepieces that we have covered thus far? Let us find out!

Patek Philippe Nautilus 5711 40th Anniversary Edition

We begin the column with an icon, except that this one is on steroids. Introducing the Patek Philippe 5711 40th Anniversary Edition.

The watch, as its nomenclature suggests, was produced specially to commemorate the 40th year of the legendary Nautilus collection. Launched in 1976, the Nautilus rose to fame for its intriguing design – idealised by none other than the late Gerald Genta. The rest, as they say, is history.

Being a special edition piece, the 44.05mm watch is definitely different from the usual 5711s. The most obvious one lies on its dial – it features special engravings, as well as the fitting of 12 baguette-cut diamonds in place of the usual stick baton indices. The case is also larger than the typical Nautilus, although it wears pretty similarly on the wrist.

Priced at S$149,300, the platinum timepiece is relatively reasonably priced for what it’s worth. It is limited to a production run of a mere 700 pieces, and we are fairly sure that this is one timepiece that will continue to appreciate in value in years to come.

Patek Philippe Calatrava Ref. 5119

The Calatrava is a quintessential timepiece in any Patek Philippe collection. First introduced in 1932, the timeless series is perhaps the flagship of the venerable watch manufacturer.

In a world of excess and flashiness, the Ref. 5119 is a breath of fresh air. The dress watch, which was first introduced in 2006, might be simple – but its attention to detail is amazing. Featuring a white lacquered dial and a ‘Clous de Paris’ hobnail patterned bezel, the Ref. 5119 allows the subtle details to speak for itself. It is also very elegantly sized too, at a mere 36mm.

On the reverse side of the watch, the quality of the Calatrava is certainly much easier to fathom. Cased with the Calibre 215 PS, the manually-wound movement is respectably finished and certified with the Patek Philippe Seal. Besides the haute horlogerie level of finishing, it is also noteworthy to point out that the movement is a charming reminiscence of Patek Philippe’s pocket watches of the yesteryear.

With a retail price of S$29,000, the entry-level Calatrava Ref. 5119 might seem to be a little princely for some. It is, however, no doubt a classic – and one that will remain relevant in decades to come.

Patek Philippe World Time Ref. 5231

A complication that is synonymous with Patek Philippe, the World Time is a collaboration with Louis Cottier back in the 1930s to use his patented method to display various time zones across the globe. The Reference 5231 is one of the latest iterations to join this illustrious collection.

While the World Time is a functional piece, Patek Philippe had injected an element of artisanship in this particular reference with cloisonné enamelling. This goes beyond the art of enamelling. The process involves soldering metal wires – gold, in this case – which are bent to the outline of a design (which are the continents in this case) and filling the cloisons with vitreous enamel paste. The result is stunning.

Driving the Ref. 5231 is the tried and trusted Calibre 240 HU, a self-winding movement that is fitted with a 22k gold micro-rotor. It has a minimum power reserve of 48 hours and operates at a traditional 3 Hz beat rate. It is splendidly finished, in accordance to the standards set by the Patek Philippe Seal which this movement bears. The 38.5mm watch is priced at CHF 65,000 (approximately S$90,019), and we think this is perhaps one of the nicest modern World Time that Patek Philippe had produced to date.

Patek Philippe Golden Ellipse Ref. 5738

While collectors are constantly chasing the likes of Nautilus and Grand Complications, the Golden Ellipse is quietly lying in the shadows within the Patek Philippe collection. Launched in 1968, the timepiece certainly has a special place in the hearts of most Patek Philippe collectors.

Last year, to commemorate the golden jubilee of the Golden Ellipse, the maison had decided to produce a special edition of the watch. The magic of the piece definitely still lies in its timeless case design. The elliptical case has dimensions that follows the golden ratio, which makes it look rather proportional and “right”. This particular edition is the “Grand Tallie” model, which means that it features a larger case dimension. This version measures at 34.5 mm x 39.5 mm, instead of the regular 31.0 mm x 35.5 mm case size. It was perhaps made with the modern consumers in mind, who seem to prefer a slightly larger timepiece.

The watch is powered by the legendary Calibre 240. The self-winding movement is only 2.53 mm thick, playing a key role in the watch’s overall slenderness. It is fitted with a 22k gold micro-rotor, and it also comes with the brand’s proprietary Gyromax balance and patented Spiromax balance spring for improved rate accuracy. This rose gold timepiece retails at S$40,700, and we feel that this is one of the perfect discreet dress piece that will look classy in any formal setting.

Patek Philippe 10 Day Tourbillon Ref. 5101

Patek Philippe Ref 5101 in platinum with salmon dial

Rectangular watches are far and few – but this Patek Philippe takes discreetness and exclusivity onto the next level.

The 10 Day Tourbillon Art Deco style is a timepiece that is relatively under the radar. The watch, featuring the “Gondolo” rectangular case, is a rather understated but delightful piece. For the uninitiated, the watch comes with a tourbillon and also boasts a 10-day power reserve. The tourbillon is only visible via the exhibition case back, hence making it very discreet. The finishing is magnificent too; we expect nothing less from Patek Philippe.

Although it is now discontinued, the Ref. 5101 can still be occasionally found at second-hand dealer sites with an estimated price of US$170,000 (approximately S$234,418) onwards. This particular Patek Philippe is extravagant due to its rarity – but those who, will certainly know about how extraordinary this timepiece is.

Patek Philippe Perpetual Calendar Chronograph Ref. 5270

Finally, we end the article with a legendary timepiece from a legendary watch manufacturer: the Patek Philippe Ref. 5270 Perpetual Calendar Chronograph.

The Perpetual Calendar Chronograph, from Patek Philippe, is perhaps the most coveted and well-regarded timepiece in the world. This is because it combines two highly complicated complications in its construction, as suggests by its nomenclature. In addition, the watch is rather stunning and proportional in terms of its aesthetics, which to us means additional points.

But what sets the Ref. 5270 apart from its predecessors is the movement itself. Unlike the previous models, the Ref. 5270 is fitted with the Calibre CH 29-535 PS Q. It is the first perpetual calendar chronograph that uses a fully in-house designed and manufactured movement. All earlier iterations have been based on either the Valjoux or Lemania ebauches. Ebauches, especially when worked on and modified by Patek are excellent in their own right, but a full in-house movement just takes the cake with its allure. The movement is manual-winding, and several features include the Gyromax balance wheel, and the use of a lateral clutch system for the chronograph. The finishing is sublime – just like what you would expect from Patek Philippe.

Priced at S$216,500, the Ref. 5270 is the most expensive timepiece in the list today. It may be out of reach for many of us, but if you are able to afford it, we will definitely recommend this iconic 41mm timepiece to you, without a shadow of doubt.

Concluding Thoughts

We have said this at the start, and we will say it again: Patek Philippe is certainly one of the few watch manufacturers that occupies a special place in our hearts. It is not every day that a brand is able to stir our emotions and make us fall in love time and over again with their creations. But somehow, this brand manages to do it effortlessly every single time.

This is perhaps why collectors say that a watch collection is not complete without a timepiece from Patek Philippe. It is just so difficult to think about watches without the brand coming to mind. This is how significant the Geneva-based watch manufacturer is.

So, what are some of your favourite Patek Philippe watches of all time? Do you have any other stories to share about the fabled watch manufacturer? Let us know in the comments section below.

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