The Perpetual Calendar Chronograph is the best interpretation of what defines a Patek Philippe. Like Rolex knows how to manufacture divers, Patek has mastered the Chrono with QP for ages and is, without any debate, the best at it. This association of complications launched in 1941 with the Ref. 1518 never ended and is still THE hallmark of the Geneva-based old lady (Patek Philippe). Recently we reviewed the latest example of this institution, the Patek Philippe 5270 Perpetual Calendar Chronograph with a stunning blue dial. For 2015, Patek brings the third generation of the Ref. 5270, with a new combination of a white dial and a rose gold case – plus the correction of one of the main faults, the ‘chin’.
Background – the 2011 and the 2013 generations of the Patek Philippe Ref. 5270 explained
Without going back into the full history of the Perpetual Calendar Chronographs by Patek Philippe (that can be found here), let us give you some details about this specific reference – the 5270. Why it is a superb watch and why this apparently trivial update makes it an even better timepiece? Back in 2011, the Patek Philippe 5270 Perpetual Calendar Chronograph had been introduced as the successor of the 5970 – a minor update of the long-lasting 3970. Even if very close in its look to its predecessor, the 5270 is a complete redesigned watch, with a larger 41mm case, a new dial with a different layout and – mainly – a movement fully designed, conceived and manufactured in-house. The old Calibre 27-70 CH is here replaced with the CH 29-535 PS. Visually similar, technically brand new.
The Patek Philippe 5270 Perpetual Calendar Chronograph has to be seen as an entire collection. Without changing the name of the reference, we’re now in front of the third generation of this watch. The first generation of the Ref. 5270 was launched in 2011 with a white gold case and a silver brushed dial. The indexes and hands were made of black-oxidized gold. The Ref. 5270G-001 was lacking the tachymeter scale included in the previous Ref. 5970. Finally, as the sub-dials are located below the central axis, it left more space for the logo – that came with a larger font.
The Second Generation of the Patek Philippe 5270 was introduced in 2013. It came first in white gold with silver opaline dial, reference 5270G-013 – followed in 2014 with the Ref. 5270G-014, a white gold edition with blue sunburst dial – the exact one we reviewed here. The hands and indexes were coming back to a classical white gold. Both (and especially the blue edition) were superb watches. However, there is a BUT. While the first generation was praised for its excellent legibility – due to a sleek dial, with a simple second track and clean sub-dials – some collectors felt the need for a classical feature of chronographs, the tachymeter scale. The second generation of the Patek Philippe 5270 re-introduced this scale (good point), in a very odd way (bad point.) First, this tachymeter scale and the second track are merged in a single one, creating a quite confusing display. Then, this scale is calibrated for 1/5th second intervals. However, the calibre 29-535 PS beats at 28,800bph / 4Hz, making it precise at 1/8th of a second. Thus, there is a shift between the second hand and the scale on which you’re supposed to read intervals of time – and this issue is the same for all the generations of the Patek 5270.
The other issue on this second generation of the Ref. 5270 concerns the ‘chin’. Because of the large date track around the moon-phase indicator, there is a strange depression on the external (and now wider) track at 6 – that collectors nicknamed the ‘chin’. First, let’s be clear, this feature is not elegant. While the rest of the dial is balanced, this ‘chin’ is irrelevant and breaks the linearity and sleekness of the track. Then, it goes against the main objective of a chronograph: exactitude, accuracy and high legibility – because the chronograph seconds hand does not touch the scale anymore between 27 seconds and 33 seconds, time-reading is difficult. This strange feature will potentially become a cool and funky feature in 50 years time when the 5270 will become vintage and collectable. However, for now, it is not the best move from Patek. Thankfully, it’s about to be corrected.
No more ‘chin’, a cleaner and easily legible dial and the arrival of rose gold. Here are the main novelties of the third generation of the 5270.
Before going into the specifications of this redesigned dial, let’s first take a look at the visual updates. The third generation of the Patek Philippe 5270 Perpetual Calendar Chronograph is now available in 3 editions:
The Ref. 5270G-018 – 18k white gold case, silvery opaline dial, white gold applied hour markers, white gold minute and hour hands, blackened gold second hand, matt black alligator strap.
The Ref. 5270G-019 – 18k white gold case, blue sunburst dial, white gold applied hour markers, white gold second, minute and hour hands, matt navy blue alligator strap.
The Ref. 5270R-001 – 18k rose gold case, silvery opaline dial, rose gold applied hour markers, rose gold applied hour markers, rose gold second, minute and hour hands, matt dark brown alligator strap.
So we return to the classical 18k white gold with a bright dial, the cool and superb 18k white gold with casual blue dial and a newcomer, the warm and dressier 18k rose gold edition with bright dial, a combination dear to Patek Philippe that was strangely absent from the catalog since the introduction of the 5270.
The second update is both more discreet but, sincerely, a welcomed gift. As said, the ‘chin’ was the negative consequence of the requested tachymeter scale. It seems that Patek Philippe heard the mockeries and complaints of collectors and journalists, as the third generation of the Ref. 5270 gets rid of this odd and irrelevant feature. A solution was found, one that is good… but again not perfect.
To be simple, Patek Philippe has decided to delete this ‘chin’ and instead to leave a blank on the scale… well, on one of the scales to be precise. As we told you before, the second generation of the Ref. 5270 had a single scale that merged the seconds track and the tachymeter. This third generation features two scales, with two separated railroad tracks – one just outside of the markers for the seconds and another one on the edge of the dial for the tachymeter. This is certainly a good point for the legibility but not for the purity of the dial. Then, because of the infinite comments about the ‘chin’, the Ref. 5270 simply deletes it. However, the date / moon sub-dial is still large and positioned very low on the dial (due to the placement of the other sub-dial below the horizontal axis). Thus, Patek Philippe simple cut the seconds track between 27 seconds and 33 seconds. However, the second hand is longer than before and goes to the edges of the dial. It points the external tachymeter track – and even around 6 o’clock, it is readable. This is a solution, a fairly good one, but not a perfect one (lack of purity of the dial that feels a bit loaded, second track simply cut… all of is due to the movement and a resolute choice concerning the placement of the sub-dials – we’ll get back on this later).
Anyway, this third generation of the Patek Philippe 5270 Perpetual Calendar Chronograph remains a superb and complicated watch, a pure Patek that defines the mastery of the manufacture is such timepieces. This Ref. 5270 displays both a perpetual calendar and a chronograph. As we noticed in our review of the Second Generation of the 5270, “the day and month are indicated in two windows at 12. The date and the moon phase indicator are displayed in a third sub-dial at 6. What is new compared to the previous reference (the 5970) is the way it indicates the leap year and the day/night function. Previously, these two were positioned inside the chronograph’s counters at 3 and 9 and used hands to point out the information. Not the most practical and legible layout, as it was easy to get confused between the different hands. In the 5270, Patek has chosen to use two small apertures – at 4:30 for the leap year and at 7:30 for the day/night indicator. The dial gains increased legibility and aesthetic purity from that new disposition“.
Inside the Ref. 5270 – regardless the generation – ticks the calibre CH 29-535 PS with an extra perpetual calendar module on the top side. This is a modern movement that Patek Philippe fully designed, developed and manufactured in its own workshops. Patek Philippe, as every major watchmaker, has a strong concern on replica watches. In order to prevent this bane, PP chose to have a distinctive display with slightly recessed chronograph sub-counters on its manual winding chronograph – the CH 29-535 (with or without QP or Rattrapante). It makes these watches (almost) impossible to copy – a same concept is used in the Rolex Daytona with Calibre 4130.
This new positioning led to redesign the whole QP module and to adapt the sub-counter and day/month windows. This also led to the issue of the very low position of the moon-phase and date indicators – that created the issue of the ‘chin’ or cut track. This move is understandable from Patek, that wants to protect its creations but on the other hand, it also affects the beauty, the elegance and the balance of the dial.
The Calibre CH 29-535 PS Q is a 32mm manually wound movement that is impressive, not only because of its complications, but also because of the quality of its finishing. As with every modern Patek Philippe watch, it is adorned with the Patek Philippe Seal, meaning high standards and strict quality control exerted in the manufacturing of every single component of the watch – the movement, the case, dial, hands, et al. – with rigorous standards of form, of function, and of accuracy.
A close look allows us to see the polished bevelled angles of the bridges and of the levers, the straight graining of the several elements that composed the chronograph, the polished screw heads and slots, several gold chatons and Geneva stripes that continue from one bridge to another. The beauty of this movement also comes from its pleasantly deep layout, which permits viewing of all the gears’ and levers’ motions when activating the pushers.
What to think about this 2015 / third generation of the Patek Philippe 5270 Perpetual Calendar Chronograph? It seems that Patek finally gets to (almost) satisfy the collectors, who were asking for a tachymeter scale and the removal of this odd ‘chin’. Maybe the 2015 Ref. 5270 is not perfect because of the extra load of printings it has on the dial. Maybe the cut second track is not the best option. For sure the first generation was cleaner and more legible. We could debate on these points for ages but in the end, we have to admit that a Perpetual Calendar Chronograph by Patek Philippe remains one of the most desirable pieces of horology that the world is able to offer. And between you and me, isn’t something perfect a bit boring? We choose to say that the faults of the 5270 create its charm (just look at those lugs…) and its desirability.
Price: Around 140.000 Euros.