Come next month, fans of Patek Philippe – and horology buffs of all stripes, really – will be in a for a truly exceptional experience as the grand maison unveils the Watch Art Grand Exhibition, its largest exhibition to date. Held at the Marina Bay Sands Theatre from Sept 28 to Oct 13, the 1,800 sq m showcase will practically bring the world of Patek Philippe to Singapore for two weeks. Aside from live demonstrations of watchmaking and of artisanal crafts like enamelling, visitors will get to learn more about the brand’s 180-year history and how far it has come, through displays of historically important Patek Philippe pieces as well as its 2019 novelties.
One of the definite takeaways for visitors to the Watch Art Grand Exhibition will be insights into the grande maison’s longstanding dominance in the realm of complex calendar watches. The brand is associated with several firsts when it comes to perpetual calendars, those marvels that self-adjust for leap years and differing month lengths: In 1925, Patek Philippe created the first perpetual calendar wristwatch. In 1941, it created the world’s first two serially produced perpetual calendar watches, one of which included a chronograph function. And in 1996, it launched the first annual calendar – which automatically differentiates between months with 30 and 31 days, but needs to be adjusted once a year at the end of February.
This year, Patek Philippe introduces a new addition to its comprehensive catalogue of calendar watches. The Calatrava Weekly Calendar Ref. 5212A is a timepiece featuring a weekly calendar – a new complication for the brand, and one not commonly seen in horology. Jeremy Lim, COO of Cortina Watch, a longtime retail partner of Patek Philippe, explains: “The weekly calendar is more generally adopted in Europe and Japan, where production and delivery dates are planned in week numbers. Although it is not frequently used by Singapore companies, it is a common indicator used by our business partners who are based in Europe. It is useful when you can quickly refer to the week numbers during trade discussions.”
In the Ref. 5212A, the weekly calendar is displayed via a ring of numbers on the periphery of the silvery opaline dial. A red hammer-shaped hand indicates the week number, along with the month.
What really makes the design stand out, however, is the typeface used for the letters and numerals in the various calendar indications: Based on the handwriting of a Patek Philippe designer, the unique, transfer-printed typeface evokes the spirit of journalling by hand. It’s also an unusual aesthetic element for Patek Philippe, which is best known for its classic designs and clean-lined luxury sports timepieces. This quirky accent is a welcome element for Lim, who shares: “The somewhat whimsical typography on its dial carries a unique charm; it makes the watch feel vintage, with a youthful twist.” That vintage flavour can also be attributed to a one-of-a-kind Patek piece from 1955, which inspired the Ref. 5212A. A box-type sapphire crystal glass with a refined, curved profile complements this vintage feel.
Adding to the Ref. 5212A’s sense of playful accessibility is the fact that it comes in a 40mm steel case, making this the only steel Calatrava in Patek Philippe’s regular collection. Most Calatrava cases are forged from precious metals, with the most recent exception being the limited-edition Pilot’s Calatrava Ref. 5522A made for the US market in 2017. As with Patek’s other steel timepieces, the sleek case – it has a thickness of 10.79mm – is of top quality. Aside from being hand-polished throughout, its refined construction is revealed through features such as a two-tiered case and lugs, blackened white-gold hour markers and blackened white-gold, double-faceted dauphine hands.
Visible through its sapphire crystal caseback is the new semi-integrated self-winding movement 26-330 S C J SE. Based on the Patek Philippe automatic calibre 324, the 304-component movement incorporates the new weekly calendar mechanism, as well as other innovations that improve the mechanism’s stability and reduce friction. We would not expect anything less from Patek Philippe, but what truly makes the Ref. 5212A a special proposition for 2019 is its singular aesthetic and fresh complication.
“The 5212A fits perfectly into the brand’s current line-up of annual calendars and perpetual calendars,” says Lim. “It has a pared-down elegance, and its interesting yet accessible complication makes it a conversation-starter.”
My Top Patek Picks
Cortina Watch COO Jeremy Lim shares his thoughts on the Genevan maison’s standout novelties for 2019.