Patek Philippe Chalks Up Another Series Of Firsts
Brothers in arms
Released in 1976 in a counter response to quartz crisis of that time, the Nautilus welcomes its first grand complication in the form of a perpetual calendar. Calibrated to automatically adjust the differing number of days of the months, including the periodically occurring 29 days of February (leap year), the Ref. 5740/1G-001 perpetual calendar is powered by the ultra-thin 240 movement with a 22k gold winding rotor engraved with the Calatrava cross.
The analog calendar sub-dials – month and leap year indicator at ‘3’, date and moonphase at ‘6’, and day of the week at ‘9’ – are set against a blue sunburst dial with horizontal lines.
Nautilus’ iconic porthole case with octagonal bezel designed by the late Gerald Genta – who famously made the sketch at a restaurant during Baselworld seated across the room from Patek Philippe executives – is crafted in 18k white gold with satin-brushed surfaces and polished chamfers. Similarly, the integrated white gold bracelet feature satin-finished lateral links and polished central links.
Often regarded as Nautilus’ younger sibling, the Aquanaut is now endowed with its first chronograph. The new Ref. 5968A-001, fitted with CH 28-520C automatic flyback chronograph, is equipped with a classic column wheel and a modern vertical disc clutch that is completely fiction free. Thanks to this, the seconds hand also doubles as the chronograph hand.
The checkerboard dial features a 60-minute counter at ‘6’ and is shaped to resemble the octagonal bezel. Sporty orange adorn this counter as well as the peripheral railway track and the chronograph/ seconds hand. The steel case, alternately satin-brushed and polished, is matched with a composite strap that is perfectly suited for the outdoors as it is highly resistant against wear-and-tear as well as salt water and UV rays.
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A charming chiming world timer
The new Ref. 5531R features a double treat of a 24-time zone display and a minute repeater, the first Patek Philippe watch to feature this combination. And, for possibly the first time too, the minute repeater strikes the time of the current location, instead of just the home time like past watches with this combo.
Patek Philippe’s last major accomplishment with the world timer was in 1999 when it patented a mechanism that allows for the adjustment of the city disc, the 24-hour disc and the central hour hand via a single pusher. The pairing with a minute repeater proves even more challenging, especially considering that the Swiss maison planned to go another level up by having it chime the local time instead of the home time.
The result is the self-winding R 27 HU movement, which has made some fundamental changes to the minute repeater, chief of which is connecting the world time and 24-hour rings to the chiming mechanism, instead of having the two complications operate independently of one another. To enhance the sound, Patek Philippe president Thierry Stern instructed the engineers to attach the two gongs to the caseband instead of the movement plate.
The dial is designed to be easy-to-read, complete with a city disc of silver opaline with Geneva representing the central European time instead of the usual Paris, and a 24-hour disc with gold numerals as well as clearly defined day and night sections (tinted brown for day, and brown for night).
Last but not least, the central dial brings an artistic flavour to the grand complications with a depiction of the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Lavaux winemaking region in cloisonné enamel.
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