Some watches are more special than others… The fact that we’re talking about a perpetual calendar manufactured by Patek Philippe is already a first clue. The fact that it’s a salmon dial watch with a white metal case is only adding to this specialness… Right, but what truly makes the 5320G Perpetual Calendar special, whether this new salmon version or the recently discontinued cream-coloured version here, is the design, its inspiration and its overall vintage elegance. This watch was surprising when first launched in 2017, and the new rose gold-coloured opaline dial brings an even more desirable dimension to this watch. And here is it live.
A watch inspired by multiple historic models
As we’ve explained recently in our articles about the Annual Calendar Travel Time 5326G and the Green Lacquered 5270P, Patek has changed. It has evolved mostly on the design side, with watches that are in line with the expectations of a new, younger clientele who desire edgier, more casual designs and colours. In my books, the watch that really marked the transition from typical Patek classism to the new generation (that of Thierry Stern) is the Calatrava Pilot Travel Time 5524G of 2015. A highly controversial watch that made a lot of noise when presented… From classic designs seen in the past, we entered here a new generation of watches, with vintage inspirations and bolder designs.
Even though far less controversial than the Calatrava Pilot, the 5320G Perpetual Calendar is, to me, the second watch that truly marked this evolution of design and overall vocation of Patek watches. Again here, vintage references are clear and this watch was meant to be a new step in the history of the brand’s QPs. Far more casual and user-friendly than, for instance, the all-time classic references 3940 or 5140 – round watches with refined cases and traditional display. The 5320G, when presented in 2017 (first with a cream-coloured dial) played on different trends. Still extremely refined and elegant, but not the same kind of elegance as before. Just like in menswear, where the 3-piece grey flannel suit has been replaced by a well-cut pair of jeans with a tailormade tweed jacket and a pair of fine Italian loafers, the 5320G brings a more relaxed elegance. More in line with current expectations and lifestyle.
Behind the design and display of the 5320G Perpetual are actually 3 different historic Patek Philippe models. One for the display, one for the style of the dial and the overall inspiration, and one for the shape of the case/lugs. As said, Patek indeed creates vintage inspired watches these days, but doesn’t really copy the past in a faithful way, and almost never uses one specific model as a source. First, the display of the 5320G is a nod to Patek’s very first serially-produced perpetual calendar wristwatch, the Reference 1526. Launched in 1942, and produced in only 210 examples, it is noticeable also because of its subtle, streamlined display with two apertures for the day and month, as well as a subdial for the date and moon – something identical is found on the 5320G.
Then there’s the style inspiration, which is based again on a historic Patek Philippe watch, the unique reference 1591, which gave away its military-inspired dial with luminous markers and hands. A unique stainless steel perpetual calendar, a watch that was unknown to literature and the market until 1996 when it was first offered at auction, it was owned by a Maharaja who was wearing this robust timepiece occasionally when playing polo. This unique piece, with a waterproof steel case and central second presented a specific luminous dial, with painted Arabic numeral and blued syringe hands filled with luminous material. This watch, last sold by Christie’s in 2007 for an impressive CHF 2,513,000, is now exposed at the Patek Philippe museum. And it is where Patek might have found the inspiration for the dial of the 5230G.
Finally, an important element of the design of this watch are the lugs, and again, they don’t come out of the blue, but are based on the case of the Patek Philippe reference 2405, a simple 3-hand watch from the 1940s, yet with a very specific Art-Deco case with gadroons and triple-stepped claw lugs.
The new Salmon Patek Philippe 5320G
As we reported in this article, we were expecting the cream-coloured 5320G to be discontinued this year. We were somehow already regretting this watch, until the 2022 Edition of Watches and Wonders and the presentation of two new salmon-coloured watches; the 5172G Chronograph and the present 5320G Perpetual Calendar – note that these two watches were already closely related, with the same design for the case and the dial, however until now in very different colours (blue and cream). Now, both are available in salmon and are truly connected.
The overall recipe of the 5320G, now featuring salmon, has not changed much compared to the previous cream-coloured edition. It certainly is only a dial animation, but one that really has some appeal. As such, the specifications and most of the design features have been kept alive, and don’t consider this new 5320G-011 to be a generation two model. The dial, the markers, the display and the case are all identical.
The beauty of the Patek Philippe 5320G Perpetual Calendar comes first and foremost from its superbly shaped case. Measuring a reasonable 40mm diameter, with a height of 11.13mm, it is still made here of 18k white gold, and entirely polished. Something rather specific, this case is stamped and not milled – a process usually reserved for lower-end watches, but the complex shape of the lugs and the need to obtain ultra-sharp facet required the use of stamping. And since Patek does not solder lugs to the case, this was the only way to obtain these stunning triple-stepped lugs. And the polished surfaces are, once again, flawless and executed to an impressive level.
Overall, this case has a sheer, undeniable refinement and elegance, something truly captivating, discreetly original, but not in the traditional way. As I explained, it’s more casual, less strict, and less formal and that makes this watch something special. If I had one complaint, that would be the strap. The quality itself is not to be blamed. But this glossy brown alligator strap feels a bit outdated compared to the rest of the watch. But there’s nothing bad here, a strap can be changed very easily.
The big news this year is the incorporation of a salmon dial on the Patek Philippe 5320G Perpetual Calendar, as a replacement for the cream dial we’ve known from 2017 to 2022. As said, nothing has changed and there’s still this military inspiration found in the luminous Arabic numerals and the syringe hands – even though I know Patek doesn’t like this name, these are definitely syringe hands. All are made out of 18k gold and then anthracite coated for contrast. The display remains the same too, with this simple, streamlined perpetual calendar composed of a date/moon subdial at 6 o’clock, two apertures for the day and month at 12 o’clock, and finally two small circular apertures for the day-night indicator and the leap year.
Then there’s this rather unique salmon tone. There are many ways to obtain a salmon colour, the most classic being to use a rose gold coating on the dial. But depending on the finishing of the base dial, this can result in very different watches. Take for instance our Montre de Souscription 1, with a galvanic pink gold bath and a brushed dial. And then compared it to this Salmon 5320G, which also used rose gold coating… but with an opaline process on a smooth texture. Thanks to this rare finishing, the dial of this new model is quite unique and very soft in colour. But no less attractive. It’s different, yet very Patek indeed.
Inside the case is the same movement as before, based on the automatic Calibre 324 with a centrally-mounted rotor – used in various simple Calatravas, in the Nautilus 5711 in the past, in the Aquanaut, and as a base for the annual calendars or for the 5496. This movement is equipped with the brand’s in-house technologies, such as the Gyromax balance and Spiromax balance spring, and is certified by the Patek seal. The decoration is pleasant, even though it might lack a bit of extravagance and warmth. Finally, its power reserve of 35-45 hours feels slightly outdated compared to the competition. But being automatic, this problem is almost forgivable.
The Patek Philippe 5320G-011 Perpetual Calendar Salmon dial is now available (well, as always with Patek, the notion of availability is to be taken with precautions) and is priced at EUR 84,700. For more details, please visit patek.com.