Since its introduction in 2006, the Patek Philippe 5396 Annual Calendar is amongst the most classical options in the brand’s collection. It offers a cleaner and a slightly more modern option to the conservative reference 5146, the sub-dial based Annual Calendar watch. In addition to the existing versions, with silvery-white or grey dials (with appliques or Breguet numerals), Patek has decided to add a bit of flamboyance to this model, by giving it a rose gold case combined with a rich navy blue dial.
Annual Calendars at Patek Philippe
All in all, Patek Philippe offers no less than 3 different displays for the Annual Calendar complication. Classical, with the reference 5146 and its display based on traditional sub-dials. Modern, with the reference 5205 and its displays based on 3 windows from 10 to 2. Right in the middle sits a hybrid, a watch that relies on both the classical look of sub-dials and the more modern design offered by the windows. Balanced, slightly less conservative, yet traditional and faithful to some vintage editions, it is the Patek Philippe 5396R Annual Calendar. Don’t be fooled though, as these 3 watches share the same automatic movement with central-second (Calibre 324), modified only for the way the indications are displayed on the dial.
The Patek Philippe ref. 5035, the first Annual Calendar created in 1996.
It’s no surprise to see that many variations of the Annual Calendar function (plus note that it can be combined with a regulator display or a chronograph). Indeed, Patek Philippe was the inventor of this new type of calendar function, back in 1996, with the reference 5035. The Annual Calendar sits in between a standard full calendar – which needs to be adjusted at the end of all the months with less than 31 days – and the perpetual calendar – which automatically adjust to the months with 30 or 31 days, but also takes into account the month of February (with its 28 days) and the leap years (when February has 29 days). This type of watch only requires one correction every 100 years.
Patek invented the annual calendar in 1996, as a simplified and more accessible option to the QP.
20 years ago, Patek Philippe, known to master the perpetual calendar like no one in the industry, came with a new idea, a calendar that will be nearly as practical as a QP but more secure, simpler, more reliable and mainly, more accessible. In 1996, they came with the patent of a calendar watch that requires only one correction a year, at the transition from February to March, meaning that it was automatically recognizing 30- and 31-day months – meaning only one adjustement required per year, at the end of February.
The Patek Philippe 5396R Annual Calendar Blue Dial
Before we move into the new style adopted by this Patek Philippe 5396R Annual Calendar for 2017, let’s first take a look at what is the model itself. As said, it is an intermediate version of the annual calendar complication, which features both windows and a sub-dial to display the indications. It is also a pretty well-proportioned dress watch, with restrained size and elegant profile. The main novelty concerns the new colour adopted by the dial, combined with the warm tone of the rose gold to create a more flamboyant, less conventional watch.
The display of the Patek Philippe 5396R Annual Calendar is a mix of elements from the classical 5146, the more modern 5205 and some perpetual calendars (such as the recently introduced 5320). On one side, it still features a sub-dial at 6, with a moon-phase and a 24h indication. Then, it also replaces the traditional sub-dial with pointer indications by windows, offering a clear, instantaneous read, as well as making the dial less cluttered. Finally, the day of the week and the month windows are placed at 12, just like vintage triple-calendars or certain QPs by Patek.
The result is a dial that is superbly balanced, opened and relatively clean. All the elements are positioned on the 12-to-6 axis, leaving some space around for a more aerial dial. In this edition, the indexes are facetted appliques, with a triangular tip – some editions of the 5396 can be fitted with Breguet numerals. Some gold dots also indicate the minutes, again a traditional Patek feature – some will tell that they make the dial busy, yet when seen in the metal, they animate the dial with nice reflections and depth.
The case of the Patek Philippe 5396R is elegant and restrained, with a reasonable diameter of 38.5mm – almost small if you consider more recent watches, even from Patek. Yet, with the Calatrava-style case, it works well as this shape is meant to be a dress watch. The ratio between the thickness of the bezel and the diameter of the dial is also pleasant – visually enlarging the 5396R and giving it a nice presence on the wrist. Crafted in 18k rose gold, the case is entirely polished and paired with a navy blue alligator strap – with a glossy finish though, something I’m not really fond of, in all honesty. Anyway, a strap can be removed and switched.
Under the hood of the 5396R is a well-known movement, the calibre 324, a self-winding engine with a 21k gold central-rotor. This movement equips several watches in the collection (inc. the Nautilus or the Aquanaut, as well as several QPs). Perfectly decorated, with modern features (Gyromax balance and silicon Spiromax balance spring, 4Hz frequency), it is a pleasant movement to look at and to use. One small disappointment: the length of the power reserve, at 35h to 45h. Even if this watch is automatic, it is rather short. A longer power reserve would prevent too many adjustments.
As said when introducing this article, the main novelty for this reference 5396R-014 comes from the combination of a rose gold case with a blue dial – a colour that progressively spread over the different collections. No need to mention that the result is striking. The chosen blue tone, in addition to the sunburst pattern, is bright, rich and plays a lot with the ambient light. There’s a strong contrast between the warm case and the vivid blue colour. Far from the conservative silvery-white versions in terms of discretion, it however brings another dimension to this usually rather austere piece. Some will like, some won’t. Still, Patek’s blue is impressive and eye-catching in the metal.
Certainly not Patek’s main novelty of 2017, this Patek Philippe 5396R Annual Calendar with Blue Dial demonstrates, on the other hand, how the brand is evolving and bringing modernity to its collections – with brighter colours or well-dosed vintage elements. The 5396R is priced at CHF 42,300. More details on patek.com.