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The show still goes on

The pandemic shut down the Baselworld watch fair but it hasn’t stopped Patek Philippe from rolling out new watches, which include a steel Calatrava model commemorating the brand’s new production building, three grand complications and two releases for the ladies.

Ref 5303R-001 Minute Repeater Tourbillon.

(Left) Ref 5270J-001 Perpetual Calendar Chronograph. (Right) Twenty-4 Medium Quartz.

Calatrava Pilot Travel Ref 7234G-001.

Ref 6007A-001 Calatrava.

Ref 5303R-001 Minute Repeater Tourbillon

WHEN it comes to making complication watches, Patek Philippe follows two basic principles: No matter how complicated a timepiece, it must not come at the expense of a slender and elegant case; and the complication must be simple to operate.

Ref 5303R, which is a minute repeater and a tourbillon, lives up to the two principles. The highly polished and decorated 18K rose-gold case is 42mm in diameter and 12.13mm high, which is the standard size for a basic time-only watch in the market these days. The watch should be familiar to the many visitors of Patek Philippe’s Watch Art Grand Exhibition in Singapore last year, where the Ref 5303 made its debut with a limited edition of 12 watches.

The release of the slightly modified Ref 5303R (the most obvious difference is its black-lacquered sapphire-crystal hour circle; it’s red in the Singapore edition) signals that the minute repeater-tourbillon complication is now part of the current Patek Philippe collection.

Minute repeaters often require the watch case to act as an amplifier, but this one comes in an open architecture minus a conventional dial which, for the first time, allows the hammers and gongs of a minute repeater to be viewed in action without removing the watch from the wrist.

This apparently has not compromised the unique sound that is typical of Patek Philippe repeater watches – a sound that has to be loud and clear enough to meet the personal approval of Patek Philippe president Thierry Stern.

The back of the tourbillon cage in the timepiece can also be seen beneath the seconds subdial at 6 o’clock. The Ref 5303R is priced at 600,000 Swiss francs.

Ref 5270J-001 Perpetual Calendar Chronograph

PATEK Philippe, which introduced the world's first perpetual calendar wristwatch in 1925, is not only a pioneer in making highly complicated perpetual calendars; it's also reputed to be the best at it.

The brand's Ref 1518 grand classic, a perpetual calendar combined with a chronograph launched in 1941, reigned the market for this grand complication till 2018, when it was succeeded by the Patek Philippe Ref 5270 Perpetual Calendar Chronograph. The latter came in two versions: One in a platinum case with a golden opaline dial, and the other in a rose-gold case which features a gold "goutte"-style bracelet.

With a new replacement, the Ref 5270 is for the first time encased in yellowgold, paired with a concave bezel with two-tier lugs. The leaf-shaped hands of Ref 5270J are also in yellow gold, set against a silvery opaline dial marked by applied baton indexes.

The hand-winding movement that powers the watch, Calibre CH 29-535 PS Q, is the first chronograph movement that has a perpetual calender developed and crafted entirely by Patek Philippe in 2011. While the horizontal clutch, column wheel and manual winder are key mechanisms in a traditional chronograph movement, Calibre CH 29-535 PS Q also boasts six patented innovations for the chronograph functions – and the movement also stands out with its very slim calender mechanism. The Ref 5270J retails for 149,000 Swiss francs.

Twenty-4 Medium Quartz

FIRST introduced in 1999, the Twenty-4 is the first Patek Philippe collection created exclusively for women. The quartz-driven timepiece with a metallic bracelet is identified by a cambered rectangular steel case with diamonds – the case in an original art-deco-inspired "manchette", or cuff, design.

Conceived to be worn over 24 hours and for all occasions, the Twenty-4 has over the past two decades appeared in rose and white-gold with different coloured dials in a small format, on satin straps, in dazzling jewellery and in yellow-gold minus the diamonds on the case.

The most radical transformation was made two years ago, in 2018, when the timepiece went automatic with the movement housed in a round case of steel or rose-gold, with choice dial colours. This was the Twenty-4 Automatic.

In its latest reincarnation, the Twenty-4 returns to its original design, case and size (medium, 25.1 x 30mm), but with two new faces: blue sunburst (Ref 4910/1200A-001) and gray sunburst enriched by a gradation to black at the periphery (4910/1200A-010).

The dials are adorned with white-gold applied Arabic numerals and whitegold trapeze-shaped hour markers as well as white-gold baton-styles hands – all overlaid with luminous coating.

The original Twenty-4 had dials decorated with the two applied Roman numerals XII and VI and diamond hour markers. The dial came in three colours: Forever Black, Eternal Gray and Timeless White. It retailed for about S$12,000.

The new Twenty-4 is priced at S$19,400.

Calatrava Pilot Travel Ref 7234G-001

PATEK Philippe received lots of flak when it rolled out the Ref 5524G-001 Calatrava Pilot Travel Time in 2015, because the watch was too loud and large (42mm) for a Patek Philippe timepiece – even though it was based on two pilot watches that the brand made in the 1930s. In any case, the white-gold pilot watch with a two-time-zone function and powered by an automatic movement, has caught on with watch fans.

Over the past five years, it has spawned a rose-gold version with two case sizes – 42mm and 37.5mm; a two time-zone combined with an alarm model last year (Ref 5520 Alarm Travel); and two limited editions for the Patek Philippe exhibitions in New York (Ref 5522A) and Singapore (Ref 7234A).

The latest Ref 7234G, which is essentially a downsized Ref 5524G (37.5mm), completes the collection that's inspired by Patek Philippe's aviator's timepieces from the 1930s.

The watch sells for S$63,900.

Ref 6007A-001 Calatrava

AMONG Patek Philippe's timepieces presented this year, this is the piece for the collector who already owns every noted model the brand has produced so far. This watch is a product of the Patek Philippe tradition of marking key events in its corporate history with the roll-out of commemorative timepieces in limited edition.

Such Patek Philippe watches are rare to begin with. The last time Patek Philippe launched a celebratory timepiece was nearly 25 years ago, in 1997, when it offered the Ref 5500 Pagoda and the Ref 5029 Minute Repeater to highlight the official opening of its present factory.

The latest commemorative watch celebrates a new 600 million Swiss franc production building, which will also serve as Patek Philippe's headquarters. The new time and date timepiece comes in "a very rare material" in the Patek Philippe collection – polished steel.

It features a 40 millimetres-wide case with a broad cambered bezel ringing a dial with a design underpinned by an hour circle which features a railway track scale and triangular markers, pierced baton hour and minute hands, an aperture date at 3 o‘clock and Arabic numerals. The overall colour tone of the watch is gray-blue, accompanied by a subtle circular finish set against white dial imprints and white-lacquered hands in white gold with luminous coatings.

In a nod to the world of high-tech, the dial's centre displays a "carbon"-style texture that plays with light. The blue calfskin strap, coloured and structured to match the dial centre, is lined with white seams. It has a prong buckle and a delicately embossed construction that makes you think of textile fabrics.

The sapphire-crystal caseback is marked with a Calatrava cross and the inscription "New Manufacture 2019". The year indicates when the first work groups moved into the new production building. Visible through the open caseback is the self-winding Calibre 324 S C movement, which has a power reserve of up to 45 hours. Priced at 25,000 swiss francs (S$37,400), the Ref 6007A Calatrava is a limited edition of 1,000 pieces.

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