It was with much excitement that the watch industry flocked to the 2022 edition of Watches & Wonders after a three-year hiatus. Royalty brands like Patek Philippe were there to show everyone why they still are THE most collectable watches in the world.

    There is a sublime elegance to Patek Philippe. Despite the complexity and horological ingenuity beneath their dials, there is an unquestionable refinement and elegance that shines through all their watches. All functions are always easily readable and work with the minimum of intervention on the part of the wearer.

    In terms of new complications, Patek combined their travel time and annual calendar functions into one watch: the new ref. 5326G-001 Annual Calendar Travel Time, a perfect example of the Maison’s approach that combines all facets of watchmaking artistry with a new self-winding calibre encompassing eight patents. The connection between the Annual Calendar and the Travel Time functions is an obvious one, when you travel across time zones you could potentially change the day and date, so the combination of both complications involves a number of technical challenges.

    The new calibre 31-260 PS contains eight patents, combining home time function with the annual calendar for the first time…

    The issue is not simply including both mechanisms in the same case. Because of the date line, they had to interact in such a way that the displayed date and day corresponded with local time. Hence, the new movement (calibre 31-260 PS) controls the calendar using the travel time function so that time, day and date are correct at the location of the wearer.

    The horological wizardry is housed in a new round case with a dial that displays Patek’s classic balanced elegance. The dial itself features a new design and finish, something they refer to as a “highly contemporary vintage style”; a finely graded charcoal grey that darkens to the periphery and has a slightly granular structure reminiscent of the cases of old photo cameras.

    The 41mm case is made from white gold with a Clous de Paris hobnail pattern continuing around the entire caseband. Patek have devised a distinctive construction in which the lugs are an integral part of the case back so as not to break the design.

    The new aesthetics have equally been applied to stunning effect on the new Calatrava ref. 5226G-001. A beautifully proportioned time-only watch with the same vintage look that reminds me of past Calatrava references. While ref. 5326G-001 might have stolen all the headlines and the social media posts, this simple watch is a worthy successor and celebratory form to bring up 90 years of the timeless model.

    Bringing up the 90th anniversary of the iconic Calatrava, this new model illustrates Patek Philippe’s quest for excellence in the art of watchmaking…

    A new aesthetic was also introduced on more traditional models within the Patek line-up. The ref. 5320 perpetual calendar (designed in 2017) has been given a vintage style thanks to a new white gold case fitted with a glimmering gilded opaline rose gold dial. The calendar displays are the classic erudite and refined Patek Philippe design first introduced in 1941, with the perpetual calendar as a twin in-line day and month apertures at 12 o’clock and a date indicated by a hand surrounding a moon-phase aperture at 6 o’clock. None of the vagaries of fashion and timeless in its execution. In keeping with the vintage look, the hands are the newly en-vogue syringe shape with luminescent Arial font numbering.

    Patek’s ref. 5172G-010 changes its look just a little, with the indented counter sub-dials, illustrating how well balanced the integrated chronograph is…

    New makeovers were also given to other pieces in the Patek range. For the flagship grand complication, the perpetual calendar chronograph, Patek introduced the ref. 5270P-014 with an iridescent green dial that graded to a darker hue at the outer edge. Matched with a strap of the same colour, the watch is visually stunning, with the peerless horology under the new dial and encased in platinum. The Maison also introduced a new version of their ref. 5374 perpetual calendar minute repeater (with cathedral gongs) in platinum with a blue-lacquered dial and an haute joaillerie setting for the case bezel and lugs, minute track, and repeater slide. Equally, the ref. 5205R-011 perpetual calendar moon phase was presented with a 40mm diameter rose gold case and sunburst olive green dial that gradates to a darkened form around the rim.

    The radiance of platinum in the new ref. 5270P-014 magnifies the classic design of the case, with its concave bezel and two-tier lugs and enhancing the lacquered green dial…

    Finally, Patek Philippe brought us new iterations for its classic and complication-defining world time watches. I will openly admit that I have a soft spot for the Patek form of the watch that is now in its 85th year, having been introduced with the ref. 515HU in 1937. The world has changed a great deal since then, with places of importance being reflected in the names used to define a time zone. But the basic complication has altered in only small ways over the near century since it was introduced, with the last model in 1999 being patented. The ultrathin self-winding movement with its two city and 24-hour rotating disks serves to keep simultaneous and permanent track of time in all 24 time zones.

    There were three completely new models, and I will save the one I consider to be best until last. The ref. 5230 (first introduced in 2016) has two new forms. One is a stunning platinum-cased, blue-dialed watch (ref. 5230P-001) with a new circular hand-guilloched motif at the centre. The other was a ref. 7130 in a modern and elegant olive green colour with a finely hand-guilloched basketweave motif and a diamond set bezel.

    The new ref. 5231G-001 combines geography and craftmanship in a tribute to the Maison’s expertise in World Time watches.

    However, the star of the show, and linking in the Rare Handcrafts exhibition at the Patek Philippe boutique on Rue du Rhône in the centre of Geneva, was the world time ref. 5231G-001 with a Grand Feu cloisonné enamel map of South-East Asia and Oceania. Cloisonné enamel world time watches by Patek are a cause célèbre among collectors. They are rare and highly sought after. This is the first time that Patek have produced this geographic representation, in a particularly beautiful form, I have no doubt that the wait list is already full.

    Words: Dr Andrew Hildreth
    Opening picture: Patek Philippe ref. 5326G-001 Annual Calendar Travel Time
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