I would first begin by saying that in my opinion, the Patek Philippe 5205 Annual Calendar is perhaps the perfect embodiment of what a modern Patek should be. Sure, it is not the rarest or most complicated watch that the brand makes, but I feel that the sum of its parts, from the dial to the case and movement, really makes this a contender for the definitive Patek Philippe of the 21st century so far.
Introduced in 2010, the 5205 marked a new generation of Annual Calendars from Patek Philippe and featured a distinctive 3 aperture layout at 10, 12 and 2 o’clock that displayed the day, date, and month respectively. This was an aesthetic that was truly something new and it is no surprise that this became one of the brand’s best sellers.
Rewinding back slightly, the annual calendar complication was invented and patented by Patek Philippe in 1996 as they realized that there was a gap between a simple calendar watch and the highly complicated perpetual calendar complication. While a simple calendar must be adjusted every month, and a perpetual calendar never needs to be adjusted, even on leap years, an annual calendar sits in the middle, where the user only has to adjust the watch once a year in February, while the mechanism takes care of the 30 and 31 days of the rest of the year. The highly expensive perpetual calendar was too inaccessible and the annual calendar provided the perfect balance between practicality and cost.
The reason why I think the 5205 is the perfect modern watch is that while it may seem like your average dress watch, the design cues Patek incorporated into the references really makes it one of the most versatile pieces to own. Beginning with the 18k rose gold case, it is sized at a modern 40mm and sits very well on the wrist, giving the right amount of presence without being too large. The case itself has an unusual concave bezel which really draws you into the dial and one of my favourite parts of this watch is the beautiful hollowed-out lugs that flow amorphously through to the centre of the case. The holes and indentation to the side of the case really make this watch much ‘lighter’ in its aesthetic and really provides a much-needed balance.
While there have been a few iterations of the 5205, this particular example is the latest version, housed in an 18k white gold case and fitted with a beautiful blue dial that fades to black. The fume style dial has a great character that shows off its many hues depending on the lighting conditions. Released in 2018, I think this was a great addition to the already legendary 5250 lineup.
Patek Philippe has been trying to modernize their brand for a long time in an attempt to attract a younger crowd and while in recent times they’ve had some hit and misses, they really knocked this one out of the park.