Patek Philippe revamps a trifecta of grand complications
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In the world of high-end watchmaking, dozens of companies make incredible watches for under $100,000. But when it comes to making the finest and most complicated wristwatches—tourbillons, split-second chronographs, perpetual calendars, minute repeaters, and any combination thereof—few brands can compete with Patek Philippe.
For 2020, Patek is updating three of its most beloved “grand” complications:
Ref. 5303R Minute Repeater
We first saw the Ref. 5303 minute repeater tourbillon at Patek’s Grand Exhibition in Singapore in 2019, where a limited run of 12 watches inspired by the flag of Singapore was released. Now a slightly modified version of the 5303, produced in a 42mm rose-gold case, has made its way into Patek Philippe’s catalog.
The watch’s minute repeater function chimes out the hour, quarter-hour, and minutes on gongs that are visible from the semi-skeletonized dial. In an idiosyncratic twist, the tourbillon—a complicated time-regulating mechanism that most brands love to show off through the dial—is kept hidden.
As with every minute repeater produced by the Geneva maison, each piece is reviewed by company president Thierry Stern to make sure it sounds exactly right.
Movement: Caliber R TO 27 PS manual-wound
Case material: 18K rose gold with 18k white-gold inlays
Case diameter: 42mm
Width between lugs: 20mm
Price: The piece is priced upon application, which, if you have to ask…
Ref. 5370P-011 Split-Seconds Chronograph with Blue Grand Feu Enamel Dial
The Ref. 5370P, a split-seconds chronograph cased in platinum, has been one of Patek Philippe’s most fan-beloved watches since it was released at the Baselworld watch fair in 2015. (At the time, Hodinkee’s Ben Clymer called it “the best watch Patek Philippe has produced in years.”)
Where a regular chronograph allows the wearer to time one event at the start and stop of a pusher, the split-second chronograph allows one to measure intermediate events such as lap times. This is done by using two chronograph hands that “split” when the pusher is pressed at the end of a lap. One more press of the pusher and the second chronograph hand “catches up” with the other (hence the French name for the complication rattrapante, from the verb rattraper meaning to catch up). It’s one of the most fun watch complications to use, and it’s also one of the most technically difficult (ergo, expensive) to produce.
For 2020, the 5370P receives a dial made from glossy blue grand feu enamel—another feature requiring great technical skill—and keeps the reference’s distinctive Breguet numerals. (On a side note: Is 2020 the year of the blue watch?)
Movement: Caliber CHR 29-535 PS manual wound
Case material: 950 platinum
Case diameter: 41mm
Width between lugs: 22mm
Dial: Blue grand feu enamel on gold
Ref. 5270J Perpetual Calendar Chronograph in Yellow Gold
Patek Philippe describes the 5270, introduced in 2011, as the heir to its iconic mid-century Ref. 1518—an example of which just sold for $3.57 million—and by changing up its case material to yellow gold, the similarity is made even more apparent.
The perpetual calendar chronograph is the quintessential Patek Philippe grand complication—allowing you to time both a hard-boiled egg with the chronograph and keep the correct date and moon phase, including leap years, for the next 80 years.
Yellow gold has fallen a tad out of fashion as a precious metal choice for watch cases in recent years, but the execution here brings the watch some nostalgic vintage charm.
Movement: Caliber CH 29-535 PS Q
Case material: 18K yellow gold
Case diameter: 41mm
Width between lugs: 21mm