Patek Philippe has been linked to the perpetual calendar chronographs for some decades now. Not only was Patek the first to come up with such complications reunited in a wristwatch (with the ref. 1518), but the brand even added in some references a split second or a minute repeater to an already prestigious package. During the 2014 edition of the Basel watch fair, Patek introduced a new colour to its ‘entry level’ perpetual calendar chronograph, a white gold case with a blue dial. We were quite fortunate to get our hands on this Patek Philippe 5270.
It’s quite a difficult thing to admit, but the Patek Philippe 5270 is actually the simplest perpetual calendar chronograph of the collection – keep in mind that the two other references with such complications also feature a split second (ref. 5204) or a minute repeater (ref. 5208). Clearly, though, the 5270 is not a simple watch. It is the latest edition of a long lineage that began with the reference 1518, the world’s first perpetual calendar chronograph, introduced in the middle of the 1940s. This extremely rare bird was produced for only 13 years in 281 pieces and features a movement based on a Valjoux Ebauche but highly modified and adorned with the Geneva Seal. A few years afterwards, during the early 1950s, Patek launched the reference 2499, an improved edition of the perpetual calendar chronograph. Very similar in design, the 3970 and the 5970 came after that with minor improvements and updated shapes. But in 2011, the 5270 added something very interesting to this classical model: an in-house movement. No more Valjoux or Lemania base here, but some pure Patek Philippe.
Make no mistake about this Patek Philippe 5270. Even if it looks very similar to the previous reference, nothing is the same. Design, layout, movement, case, size… everything is new, but remains classical. Patek Philippe chose not to break the codes but intended to improve and modernize an icon, when introducing it in 2011 with a silver white dial. Now, in 2014, Patek Philippe has come out with new dials, including the blue one we had the chance to handle for a few hours.
Before this new reference debuted, Patek Philippe would usually power its chronographs with a Lemania based movement, the Calibre 27-70. Even if the ebauche was deeply modified, both on the technical and finishing fronts, in an era where the word ‘in-house‘ has gained so much importance, Patek couldn’t outsource anymore. So they came out with a fully home-made movement, developed and manufactured in-house – i.e., a manufacture movement. The Calibre CH 29-535 PS Q is a 32mm manually wound engine 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. As we told you recently, the strictest of quality control standards are exerted in the building 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. Some of the long-term Patek Philippe’s collectors may prefer the older Lemania’s bridges, but this one is actually very nice too. The chronograph is of course relying on a column wheel with a vertical clutch for its engagement – the column wheel is, as usual with Patek Philippe, hidden by a protective cap (that you can see on the photo above, in the lower part of the movement). The chronograph itself is very classical, with a bi-compax architecture displaying the measured seconds with a central hand, the minutes in a sub-dial at 3 and the running second in a sub-dial at 9. Finally, it comes with the precise Gyromax balance wheel, using a free sprung architecture.
The movement is not the only interest here and turning the watch to the dial side also shows complications. The perpetual calendar parts are not visible through the sapphire caseback, as they are positioned on the top of the movement. However, the dial provides lots of information, with a clever and legible display. 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.
Another change (we told you, every aspect has been changed or improved) is the case, with a diameter of 41mm instead of 39mm. It is slightly bigger but remains in the classical and reasonable category (consider the Vacheron Constantin Patrimony Chronograph, which is 42mm, and the A. Lange & Sohne Datograph Up/Down, which is 41mm). It is made of 18k white gold and comes with an interesting, typically-Patek shape – convex bezel, complicated lugs, and rectangular chronograph pushers. The case remains quite thin at 12.40mm, and positions itself really well on the wrist. The overall appearance of the Patek Philippe 5270 is refined, complicated and elegant. The minor changes to the design give us a cleaner and more modern watch.
The last of the changes and also a 2014 novelty is that blue colour combination (both for the dial and the strap). Originally available in white gold with a white/silver dial, it is now possible to have the 5270 in blue, a less classical colour and maybe therefore easier to use with a casual outfit as well. Even if blue is a cold colour (especially when used with a white gold case), this new edition is, nonetheless, more appealing. The dial is not plain but slightly guilloché, with a sunburst pattern, and thus gives off really nice reflections (that were unfortunately hard to capture during our photo shoot). The contrast with the white gold hands/applied indexes and the white inscriptions is excellent and allows for very good legibility. Furthermore, the blue remains serious enough for Patek’s lovers but adds an extra attractiveness to a very classical reference.
The Patek Philippe 5270G Perpetual Calendar Chronograph Blue is now available in the official Patek salons at 134.260 Eur.
Specifications of the Patek Philippe 5270:
Movement: Caliber CH 29-535 PS Q – Manually wound mechanical movement, column-wheel chronograph, chronograph hand, instantaneously jumping 30-minute counter, and subsidiary seconds. Perpetual calendar with day, month, leap-year cycle and day/night – indication in apertures, analog date. Moon phases – Diameter: 32 mm – Height: 7 mm (of which 1.65 mm for the perpetual calendar) – Number of parts: 456 (of which 182 for the perpetual calendar) – Number of jewels: 33 – Power reserve: 65 hours – Balance: Gyromax – Frequency: 28,800 semi-oscillations/hour (4 Hz) – Balance spring: Breguet
Functions: Two-position crown
– Pushed in: To wind the watch
– Pulled out: To set the time and stop the seconds hand
Displays: Center hour and minute hands – Chronograph hand (trotteuse) from the center
– 30-minute counter between 3 and 4 o’clock
– Subsidiary seconds between 8 and 9 o’clock
– Date at 6 o’clock
– Day and month on an axis beneath 12 o’clock
– Moon phase at 6 o’clock
– Day/night indication between 7 and 8 o’clock
– Leap year cycle between 4 and 5 o’clock
Case: 18K white gold, sapphire crystal, screwed display back with sapphire crystal window – Water-resistant to 30 meters
Case dimensions: Diameter: 41 mm – Height: 12.40 mm – Width between lugs: 21 mm
Dial: Silvery opalescent – Twelve applied hour markers in black-oxidized gold – Leaf-shaped hour and minute hands in black-oxidized gold – Counter-balanced chronograph hand from the center -Subsidiary dials, off-center, circular guilloché pattern