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Patek - The keen, illustrious innovator
WHEN reissue of old classics has become the thing to do for many luxury watch brands, Patek Philippe is still bringing out really new timepieces along with updates of its most popular models.
And one of the new timepieces unveiled by the family-owned upscale watch manufacturer at the BaselWorld watch fair this year, which incidentally is also Patek's 180th birthday, is the Alarm Travel Time Ref 5520P-001.
Though it looks like it, but Geneva-based Patek hasn't simply added an alarm clock on the Calatrava Pilot Travel Time Ref 5524 it introduced in 2015 to produce the new two-time zoner with a 24-hour alarm wielding a hammer that strikes on a classic gong.
The Alarm Travel Time is the result of five years of development work and it's built on a totally new integrated movement that could fit into a 11.57 millimetres slim and 42.2mm wide platinum case.
Patek also wanted the "new grand complication" to be "an intelligent watch" - easy to operate, intuitively functional and protected against wrong handling. The 574 parts automatic movement, which has four patents pending for the alarm, meets these criteria.
The movement's balance spring, which is key to the accuracy of the watch, is made of silicon-based material that makes it even more accurate, losing no more than three seconds and adding no more than two seconds per day.
What's more, the Alarm Travel Time's movement - housed in a water-resistant case, a first for a Patek chiming timepiece - has a stop-seconds mechanism which allows the time to be set with one-second accuracy.
As with the date, the 24-hour alarm is coupled with the local time display, making it easy to correctly set wherever you are in the world. When the alarm is triggered, a hammer strikes a gong that circles the movement.
The striking continues for up to 40 seconds at a frequency of 24 Hertz (2.5 strikes per second) or about 90 strikes in total. A centrifugal governor ensures a regular and sustained striking cadence.
The digital alarm indicator is just below 12 o'clock. The 24-hour alarm can be set in 15-minute increments and has its own day-night indicator underneath the apertures. A small, alarm-bell shaped cut-out provides a quick visual indicator of whether the alarm has been set or not, white for ON and black for OFF.
Adjusting and setting all the functions is done via the crown at 4 o'clock and the three additional pushers. There's also a corrector for the date between 6 and 7 o'clock.
Another intresting novelty is the Calatrava Weekly Calendar Ref 5212.
Calendar timepieces are the specialty of Patek, which has produced the first perpetual calendar wrist-watch and invented the annual calendar. It now includes in its collection of "useful complications" the Weekly Calendar which, in addition to the day of the week, also displays the week number.
"It is a decidedly practical function in a globalised world, even in the smartphone era," says the brand in a press release.
The first thing that hits you about the watch is its retro look, reflected in the sector dial, the "handwritten" style font and the 40mm wide stainless steel case - a rarity for Patek. It's no surprise that the inspiration for the timepiece is the Ref 2512, a one-of-a-kind piece made in 1955 and now retired in the Patek Philippe Musuem in Switzerland.
Apart from the time, the months and corresponding week numbers as well as the day and date are easily read on the dial.
Nestling below the dial is a completely new self-winding movement that's fitted with a semi-integrated calendar mechanism, which indicates the current week number in addition to the day and date.
Patek has filed two patents for the mechanism: one for the 24-hour finger driving the day of week mechanism; another for the weekly calendar drive mechanism, which causes the week number hand to advance every Monday.
Patek launched a total of 18 new timepieces in 2019, including also a new chronograph - the Ref 5172G Chronograph. With the introduction of this latest chronograph - essentially a stop watch on the wrist - the existing Ref 5170 Chronograph is officially put to rest.
The successor, also a manual winding chronograph, is more vintage and sporty in design. Its dial has been reworked to provide a blue varnish, gold applied numerals and white gold leaf-shaped hands. The white-gold case is 41mm wide, 2mm wider, while the chronograph buttons are round and the lugs have three tiers.
Patek's two sports models, the Nautilus and Aquanaut, also got a refreshed or new look. First launched in 2010, the Nautilus Annual Calendar Moon Phases in stainless steel is given a new elegant gradient blue dial - the same colour as the original Nautilus of 1976 - in the Nautilus Annual Calendar, Moon Phases Ref 5726/1A. The previous models with a steel bracelet and a white or a black gradiant dial will be discontinued.
The jumbo model of the Aquanaut, which has a bigger 42.2mm case compared to the regular 40.8mm model, is treated to a new colour scheme in khaki green - in a daring choice of shade which confers a sense of adventure - in the Aquanaut "Jumbo" Ref 5158G.
For the ladies, Patek is replacing all the Refs 7018/1A in the Ladies Nautilus line with five new models: three in stainless steel and two in rose gold. The steel models - Nautilus Ref 7118/1200A - introduce a bigger 35.2mm case, up from 33.6mm. All the Ladies Automatic Nautilus models now have this larger case. The three new steel models also introduce three new colours for the dial: blue opaline, silver opaline and grey opaline - the last of which shades to black at the periphery. All are framed by a bezel decked with 56 diamonds (about 0.67 carat).
The matching steel bracelets of the watches are endowed with a new fold-over clasp with an integrated adjustment system. This provides an extra 2 to 4mm bracelet length for more comfort.
The two rose gold versions come in silvery opaline and golden opaline dial. Unlike the steel models, their bezels are plain - and not lined with diamonds.
After the success of the Twenty-4 Automatic collection, Patek now unveils a rose gold Haute Joaillerie model. The dial, bezel, crown and bracelet of the Twenty-4 Automatic Haute Joaillerie Ref 7300/1450R are paved with diamonds presented in either "random" or "snow" settings.