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What Do The Patek Philippe 3582 & The Apple Watch Have In Common?

What Do The Patek Philippe 3582 & The Apple Watch Have In Common? Featured Articles

I’ve been enjoying the Apple Watch for more than a few days at the time this post was written – and it has got me thinking a lot about not just the future of electronic wrist watch functionality, but also watch design overall. What I’ve been most interested in is not only how smartwatch design will continue to evolve, but also what design precedents came before the Apple Watch that either helped inspire it or that it appears to coincidentally resemble.

So, with that in mind, I felt it was a good idea to put together this fun little article on the odd similarities between the obscure Patek Philippe Ellipse Ref. 3582 (3582G) and the Apple Watch. I am actually rather convinced Apple was not at all inspired by the Patek Philippe 3582 during the design of the Apple Watch – so I am not suggesting that this rare Patek Philippe Ellipse is some type of direct design ancestor of the Apple Watch. Rather, I am suggesting that watch design is both cyclical and so diverse that it is often inevitable – even unique creations such as today’s smartwatches are not without interesting and amusing historical aesthetic analogs.

What Do The Patek Philippe 3582 & The Apple Watch Have In Common? Featured Articles

Perhaps the biggest irony is not how much the Apple Watch looks like this vintage circa 1970 Patek Philippe Ellipse reference 3582 timepiece, but instead, how much this Patek Philippe looks like the Apple Watch. Despite Patek Philippe’s highly conservative modern persona, for much of the brand’s history, it was incredibly prolific when it came to design experimentation and testing new concepts. Not all of Patek Philippe’s historic designs are what we could call “classics,” but I think most collectors deeply appreciate just how diverse the brand’s personality once was.

What Do The Patek Philippe 3582 & The Apple Watch Have In Common? Featured Articles

While I think the Apple Watch is a rather lovely piece of wearable electronics, not everyone is smitten with the design. I mean, it does look like a miniature iPhone on the wrist – which is actually sort of cool. Also – and I haven’t even read anyone else point this out – the Apple Watch is totally devoid of any Apple branding on the case save for text on its caseback. Even there, the “Apple” name doesn’t even exist save for the special logo which includes the Apple “apple” logo and the word “Watch.” That is very interesting, if you think about it, because it shows a high level of confidence on behalf of Apple in people’s ability now and in the future to immediately identify the product as the Apple Watch.

What Do The Patek Philippe 3582 & The Apple Watch Have In Common? Featured Articles

Going back to the notion of some traditional watch lovers criticizing the Apple Watch design, I wonder if their opinion changes knowing that the great Patek Philippe once produced something so ironically similar with the 3582. Are these purists somewhat humbled knowing that a company as respected as Patek Philippe is arguably the ancient ancestor of the “minimalist rounded rectangle” watch case design? I wonder…


What Do The Patek Philippe 3582 & The Apple Watch Have In Common? Featured Articles

It is a bit of a shame that I don’t have the Apple Watch with the Milanese bracelet to put right next to the Patek Philippe 3582, but of course that model is the closest analog and the source of what I feel is the most amusing irony. Instead, I submit to you the Apple Watch with the steel “Link Bracelet” along side this shining example of the Patek Philippe Ellipse 3582G in 18k white gold with an attached mesh metal 18k white gold bracelet.

What Do The Patek Philippe 3582 & The Apple Watch Have In Common? Featured Articles

It is sort of uncanny how much the 3582 case and bracelet seem to feel revived in the Apple Watch. Of course, the 29mm wide by 34mm tall (and just 6.7mm thick) Patek Philippe is much smaller than the 42mm tall Apple Watch, but assuming the dimensions of the Patek were proportionally increased, they would look eerily alike. The parallel design at work here speaks volumes about how watches are conceived and minds in totally separate places, in totally different times, doing totally different things, can sometimes come up with similar outcomes.

What Do The Patek Philippe 3582 & The Apple Watch Have In Common? Featured Articles What Do The Patek Philippe 3582 & The Apple Watch Have In Common? Featured Articles

Many of the Patek Philippe Ellipse 3582 watches came in 18k yellow gold and these white gold versions appear to be the most rare. This particular version is on loan from our friends at The Keystone, who specialize in selling high-quality, and often very unique vintage watches online. They find stuff like this, which is why I like them. According to the boys at The Keystone, this particular 3582 (which is in truly excellent condition) was purchased from a collector in Japan (where so many good vintage watches come from), and is likely from the early to mid 1970s. Inside the 3582 is a mechanical, manually wound Patek Philippe caliber 23-300 PM movement.

What Do The Patek Philippe 3582 & The Apple Watch Have In Common? Featured Articles What Do The Patek Philippe 3582 & The Apple Watch Have In Common? Featured Articles

The design of the Patek Philippe 3582 is unique for a series of reasons. It is in the Patek Philippe Ellipse collection but doesn’t have an Ellipse-shaped cased. Instead, we see the ellipse’s shape as a ring around the dial to tell the time. Based on the curvature of the “golden spiral” (using the “golden ratio” and aka the “Fibonacci spiral”), this particular shape has been used in a range of Patek Philippe Ellipse watches. It is just very interesting to see it contained within a rounded rectangular case that feels very spacey looking (for the era).

The blue face and simple dial make for a pleasant presentation in the vein of Patek Philippe modern design. Few of their watch dials today are even this simple. On the wrist, the small case size of the Patek Philippe 3582 would make for a hard sell on a man these days, but as a women’s watch it looks very interesting. Though I can easily see a lot of watch collectors wanting to seek out this model not for wear but rather for their collection.

What Do The Patek Philippe 3582 & The Apple Watch Have In Common? Featured Articles

Why is it that I am so sure the Patek Philippe Ellipse 3582 has little or nothing to do with the Apple Watch? Well, Apple worked with designer Mark Newson, whom they officially announced hiring just a few days before the Apple Watch debut in September of 2014. The similarities between the Apple Watch and Mark Newson’s previous watch design work at Ikepod have been well-noted. I think it is safe to assume that Apple had been working closely with Newson during the secret development of the Apple Watch even before their official relationship was announced. Elements from Newson’s work at the Ikepod brand from models such as the Manatee, Solaris, and Megapod can all be traced to the Apple Watch in areas such as the case as well as the bracelets and straps. Furthermore, the Apple Watch contains a lot of recent Apple “design DNA” in addition to Newson’s influence.

What Do The Patek Philippe 3582 & The Apple Watch Have In Common? Featured Articles

While I truly feel that the Apple Watch represents the future on my wrist, I am cognizant that elements of its physical design have historical analogs, and because this is going to be a much more popular consumer product around the world than most of today’s mechanical watches, I find it interesting to understand some of the design history around it – as well as what might be just an interesting irony when it comes to resembling the vintage Patek Philippe Ellipse 3582.

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  • I_G

    Both ugly?

  • Grinnie Jax

    Both are girly?

  • bigsam2035

    Here we go again. Another article mocking the iPhone. Well, I want the crown back in the center where it belongs, and I want an ‘always on’ display. Well, maybe some day, it will happen……

  • IanE

    So, they have a similar shape! Given that, assuming you avoid batmobile- and other freaky-shaped watches, it would be rather difficult to find a NEW shape for the apple-watch: I am underwhelmed.

  • Jimxxx

    Errr… Ok.

  • phsjacob

    The Apple watch is a beautiful piece of technology, but it’s really unimpressive to look over at someone’s wrist and see a blank black screen. Lame

  • iamcalledryan

    Next week: how the apple watch looks and feels while eating breakfast. Ariel you are like a teenager in love – get a room!

  • WimadS

    Apples and oranges are both round fruits.

  • Rockymet

    The Golden Ratio based on Phi has been considered a perfect esthetic proportion since before Euclid. Every architect, designer and mathmatition has a working knowledge of it. The acropolis was built to this proportion. Patek’s Ellipse line, both oval and rectangle is based on it, I use a platinum oval Ellipse with a black strap for formal wear. Apple has repeatedly used the ratio since it’s beginning. Countless architects such as Philippe Starck use it when designing table radios, toasters and yachts.

  • Russ Schwenkler

    Will this be enough for the WatchUSeek crowd to decry the Apple Watch as an icky “homage” now? 

    One can only imagine the parallels Arial could draw had Apple gone round. In my opinion, both subjects of the article are unlovely to look at. Their most common trait is the lack of attractiveness.,

  • DanW94

    Let’s give Patek a break on this design, after all it was the 70’s and people thought lime green shag carpets and bell bottoms as wide as lamp shades looked good!   Apple, they have no excuse….

  • AndreBraz

    Also, RADO watches design remind Apple and should be prt of inspiration. When I use my Ceramica some people ask if it’s Apple….

  • nosig

    How long will it be before Apple sues Patek for stealing their design?
    Other thing in common is that I will never own either of those watches. I prefer a round Patek.

  • thornwood36

    I cant believe you even made the comparison between these two brands,………………………… bonkers

  • Russ Schwenkler

    Whoops… Ariel.. Too many years of font referencing, so that never even looked wrong.

  • I say it again, nothing good came out of the 70s! ?

    Hyperbole apart, this comparison proves my point.  This Patek is rather pathetic, though just slightly less than its contemporary loin fruit.

  • Shawnnny

    I saw my first Apple Watch (you mean, it’s not called an iWatch?) in the wild yesterday. I have to say, it’s the coldest, most soulless piece of anything that I have ever seen. It does nothing that my phone does, but takes wrist space for a real watch.

  • Fraser Petrick

    Aux armes, nos citoyens, formez vos battailllons!
    The same watch community who’ve had their luddite knickers in a knot over quartz since 1970 are now hinting at….sorta liking smartwatches.
    Smartwatches and golf are the inventions of the devil.
    We shall fight them on the beaches…we shall never surrender!

  • JosephW

    I want a square-cased Patek, I’ll get a Nautilus.
    I want a wrist-mounted timing device, I’ll get a watch.
    I want a smartphone, I’ll get a smartphone.
    I never wanted a smartwatch, and still don’t. I discovered the reason for that too, finally – no soul. Any smartwatch is a piece of technology that is lurching toward inevitable obsolescence faster rather than not. It’s not something that will endure. It won’t be passed down through generations, because smartphones won’t be either. It’s simply a thing.
    Watches, though – and I’m not too much of a snob to not include some quartzes, like Campanolas – are intended to endure, to be relevant and useful past the current software iteration or tech bubble. Your investment has value and use for years if not decades. The Apple Watch does not.

  • BJS314

    So…a new article on the Apple watch every 2-4 weeks? Is that how it goes?

  • mgennone

    I am holding out for a liquid metal Terminator T-1000 inspired watch that can change case shape, size etc. Till then a black brick will not find it’s way to my wrist.

  • theoandharris

    aBlogtoWatch do they both tell time?

  • DanW94

    Fraser Petrick
    Had to run that through google translate….lol . Nice, The watch lovers call to arms…

  • dbuizert

    theoandharris aBlogtoWatch One dies after 18 hours though. I think it was the 3582. But unsure.

  • chaos215bar2

    JosephW Why all the hate (and not just from this comment)? No one’s forcing you to wear a smart watch and no one’s forcing you to read this post. I thought it was an interesting comparison to a watch I wouldn’t otherwise have been likely to see.

    I’d be curious also to hear an explanation of why smart watches are not in fact watches. I make no claims regarding aesthetics or other subjective attributes, but they go on your wrist and one of their primary functions is to tell time. Sounds like a watch to me. I think there’a a lot to like about smart watches and a lot to like about traditional ones. My only complaint is that I can’t have all the advantages of both in one timepiece.

  • DG Cayse

    IanE I am also ‘underwhelmed’ as to the Apple watch. (that is an excellent descriptor)
    I find a comparison of such a classic, and classy marque as Patek with this wrist appliance is a bit demeaning to the craftsmanship displayed in so many fine timepieces.
    While I do believe in moving forward in technology, I think this Apple aparition is best kept in a more clearly defined group. 
    And away from actual fine watches such as PP…and other classic offerings.

  • sitnstew

    BJS314 hard to take the blog seriously anymore when the Apple Watch is starting to be considered their new standard for the future of timepieces.

  • sitnstew

    chaos215bar2 I have a bracelet with a sundial on it. Should that be given equal facetime on ABlogToWatch too?

  • chaos215bar2

    sitnstew chaos215bar2 If someone manages to make a sundial “watch” (a bit more of a stretch as it can’t actually tell time on it’s own) that gets as much attention and news coverage, then certainly. Regardless of your personal opinions on the technology, the ability to put this powerful a computer on your wrist (and all that entails) is a pretty huge milestone in technological development.

  • sitnstew chaos215bar2 I wonder if there’s a sundial face for the iWatch…

  • elanjacobs

    Both cost more than they rightfully should, but there’ll be plenty of sheeple buying one anyway.

  • Frauss

    chaos215bar2 sitnstew The third is my favorite, the Dialex.

  • tikonen

    My Renis stands proud together with Apple Watch.

  • I_G

    tikonen You are lucky that the right leg of the ‘R’ in the logo hasn’t faded or chipped…

  • tikonen

    I_G tikonen 
    There are Renis models where hour hand is just long enough to cover that right leg once per hour..

  • I_G

    chaos215bar2 Only plonkers call dislike “hate”.

  • JosephW

    No hate intended or implied. “Hate” is simply too strong a word. I don’t care for it at all.
    Nor did I wish to say that smartwatches were not watches. I say watches in my final paragraph to differentiate traditional timepieces from smartwatches. That’s all.
    And no, no one’s forcing me to do anything. However, the purpose of a comments section is to leave comments. I wished to comment upon my dislike of the Apple Watch, and explain that dislike. So I have.
    To expound: my Carrera Calibre 5 is an excellent watch, in my opinion. Classic good looks, wonderful accuracy. Next year’s model (if there is one) will most likely not be “better” in any quantifiable way, unless they throw in an El Primero movement. They’ll change the looks and hands, and that will be subjectively “better”. Perhaps. In any event, so long as I keep the watch serviced, it will continue to do its job 40 years from now just as well as it does today.
    The Apple Watch won’t. Next year’s model will be quantifiably “better”, and the current Watch won’t work as well next year as it did last year, when Version 2 of Watch OS is out. The situation will become exacerbated in the coming years, as WOS 3 and 4 simply won’t run properly on the first Watch, and iOS 11 and 12 will most likely no longer communicate with it. 40 years from now, the current Watch will be completely unusable, of curiosity only to retro tech-heads.
    The Watch is a tech object first and foremost, that so happens to fit on a wrist. There’s no mechanical grace to be found in it, no springs or gears and jewels working in harmony. Only software, integrated circuits, and sensors that were destined for replacement almost as soon as the current Watch made it to mass production.
    Therefore, I have no liking for it, and no use for it. Simple as that.

  • Biffo10

    The Omega Marine Chronometer did lol !

  • egznyc

    Leave it to the hippie generation for PP to come up with a case shape bizarre enough to resemble the Apple Watch. I’m sure Ariel is right that this wasn’t intentional on Apple’s part. Amusing to be sure but not really shedding much light, either.

  • PatrickArmbruster

    AndreBraz As an Apple user since 1987 and proud wearer of RADO watches (however “cheap” they may seem in the snob’s eyes), I think there’s simply an underlying philosophy similarity. There’s a simplicity to, say, a RADO Ovation or Centrix that always seemed to go well with Apple’s stylings long before Apple thought of their own watch. (Well: Some Swatch wristwatches probably better fit a Blue Dalmatian iMac…)

    Some watch lovers obviously care to have a design that looks as complicated as the watch is on the inside. I, for one, prefer a RADO that has an ETA (which even though it’s not the most rare thing on the world is still a nice automaton) and simply shows the time and date on a very cleanly designed piece of technology. I love my original Diastar my dad gave me 20 years ago (and that he got in the 60s). I love my Ovation. I love my Centrix Automatic. And now I also love my Apple Watch shown in the pictures of this article with the stainless steel link band. It serves a similar (but different) purpose, and it does it in similar style.

  • PatrickArmbruster

    DanW94 Yeah. Because skinny jeans and low-crotch pants are, erh… What’s your point?

  • PatrickArmbruster

    Russ Schwenkler Arial’s just a knock-off, anyway. It’s called “Helvetica”.

  • DavidandtheDog

    Ariel, did you come up with the idea to compare the 3582 with the Apple Watch yourself?….

  • Berndt Norten

    What do they have in common? Nothing.

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