There are times, an item becomes so synonymous with an individual or a brand that it becomes an integral part of their identity; An association formed that is so inseparable that doing without it, would diminish the character of the brand or person.
So, for Patek Philippe? Perpetual calendar chronographs. Not much has been left unsaid about this legendary flagship family of watches, and rightly so. Deemed by many not only as the quintessential Patek but also as some of the best watches of all time, they have become graceful lessons in restraint and practicality, in balance and in tradition. The first-ever produced perpetual calendar chronograph by Patek Philippe was in 1941 with the reference 1518 and since then they have only released four more iterations, with the one you see here today, the 5270, the most recent. It goes to show that this reference is taken very seriously, with only five versions (1518, 2499, 3970, 5970, 5270) in nearly 80 years.
Offered here today is an example of a Ref. 5270 that is not often seen in the wild, and perhaps one of my favorite iterations of this particular reference – the Patek Philippe Perpetual Calendar Chronograph Ref. 5270 in platinum and a salmon dial. First introduced at Baselworld 2018, the world already knew this watch was going to be a special one. With an unusual combination of a platinum 41mm x 12.4mm case and a gorgeous salmon-colored dial, the Ref. 5270P was the first ever Ref. 5270 to be offered in platinum and was destined to be a fan favorite, for sure.
There is something to be said about this platinum and salmon dial combination though, because when we talk about case design and dial aesthetics, not many watches do it quite like this Ref. 5270P. The radiant 41mm platinum case is strong and hefty, coupled with a stunning matte salmon dial (Patek calls this the golden opaline dial – a salmon dial for all intents) that exudes warmth and restrained elegance as well as leaf (feuille) hands and hour markers in blackened gold. The beautifully shaped flared lugs here are generously stepped out from the case and dramatically fluted to accommodate better fitting on any wrist. I was actually pleasantly surprised at how well it hugged my wrist. The profile really works and it doesn’t look bulky or oversized at all, coming from someone with a smaller wrist. Of course, this being a contemporary platinum Patek Philippe also means that you will find a white Wesselton diamond, beautifully set in between the lugs at 6 o ‘clock. With this being a grand complication, its numerous indications on the dial are harmoniously arranged – a twin day-month indication at 12, a moon phase cum calendar at 6, a leap year indicator at 4:30, a day-night display aperture at 7:30, a seconds sub-dial at 9, and a 30-minute chronograph counter at 3.
Looking into the business end of the Ref. 5270P, this is where Patek Philippe made headlines when this watch was first released in 2011. The hand-winding Cal. 29-535 PS Q was the first perpetual calendar chronograph made entirely in-house, replacing the Nouvelle Lemania-based Cal. 27-70 Q used in the older Ref. 5970 and Ref. 3970. Although the Cal. 27-70 Q was an exquisite, top-tier movement, we live in an age where the term ‘in-house’ has become a selling point for manufacturers and a priority for customers.
In terms of tradition, this is as pure as it gets. Housed inside the Ref. 5270P is a classic column-wheel chronograph, using a lateral clutch engagement so you can see the watch functioning in all of its glory. While there are known drawbacks to a lateral clutch as opposed to a more modern vertical one, Patek opted for the former due to the fact that simply stated, they are architecturally and aesthetically more beautiful. It isn’t always the case that watchmaking is all about technicality, especially in Haute Horlogerie. Instead, it is the subtle alternations between the balance of beauty and functionality that truly defines a great movement. Furthermore, the Cal. 29-525 PS Q features a strong 65-hour power reserve.
To be able to see the wheels engage and disengage in the Ref. 5270 really is a beautiful thing and provides a much more immersive experience for the wearer. After all, why have an exhibition case back if there’s nothing to see? It is important to note, that Patek being Patek, they combatted a lot of the downsides of a lateral clutch movement such as hand quivering and backlash through a series of ingenious inventions. This includes a patented tooth profile for the chronograph wheels to reduce wear and prevent tooth tip collisions (which causes hand jumps), a column wheel cap that is actually functional, allowing a more precise adjustment for the clutch lever, and a slotted minute counter cam that prevents the second-hand quivering when reset. Above the base caliber, sits a newly developed perpetual calendar module, and at a thickness of 1.65mm, it ensures the watch remains discreet and slim, relative to the level of complications. As expected, the Cal. 29-535 PS Q is finished impeccably, albeit understatedly. There is nothing superfluous, no flourishes or engravings and that is the way I like it. With expertly finished polished chamfers on all edges and satin-finished flanks, it is aligned with Patek Philippe’s pursuit of sophistication and understatement.
The Patek Phillipe Perpetual Calendar Chronograph Ref. 5270P “Salmon” is as good as it gets, and it is not difficult to see why. It has been an absolute pleasure to be able to handle, and now offer this beautiful piece of wearable art on the site.