Gondolo is a historic name in the Patek Philippe family made popular by a few recent timepieces of the last decade or so. For 2013, a technically beautiful new version of the Ref. 5200 Gondolo arrives with the Swiss brand's lovely (deep breath) in-house made caliber 28-20 REC 8J IRM C J manually wound movement that incorporates a lot of the modern bells and whistles aficionados are looking for in a high-end watch from house Patek.
The 5200 for 2013 will come in two versions - each in 18k white gold. One sports a metallic blue dial, and the other (my favorite) has a white dial with those amazing black oxidized hands and hour numerals first seen by us on the 2011 Patek Philippe 5270 (which remains my own personal Patek Philippe grail watch). The unique looking rectangular case has thick flanks that give it a larger, more substantial, yet classy appearance. Size wise it is 32.4mm wide by 46.9mm tall. On the wrist it looks lovely for a watch of this shape as the white gold is fluidly polished.
It is difficult to resist the charms of the "matt blue sunburst" dial (as Patek Philippe calls it), but mixed with the polished dauphine hands, legibility is just not as ideal as it could be in all light. Nevertheless, despite the awkward proportions of a rectangular dial, Patek does a good job with the hands and applied hour markers when it comes to readability. The "silvery-white opaline" dial is fantastic. Very light, it mixes with those matte black has so very well. Patek Philippe is the current king of producing these deep black, yet detail rich, black colored hands and hour indicators.
There is no shortage of this going on around the dial. Still, reading the time is very simple. Patek Philippe incorporates the day/date complications very smoothly around the subsidiary seconds dual. Toward the top of the dial is a power reserve indicator. At first I felt put off by the "8 day" label on the dial as being unnecessary. Then I realized that it was useful because the power reserve indicator is unmarked and it gives the wearer an idea of what the eight marks on the scale mean. The dual hints of red on the dial are elegantly inserted.
In 2003 Patek Philippe released an interesting version of the 5200's forefather called the 5101P 10-Day Tourbillon. If you recall, this model was released just when tourbillon complications began becoming the luxury-complication of choice, and there was a fervor among brands to release their own. At this time Patek felt it was its duty to keep the tourbillon's ego in-check by not displaying it on the dial, but rather only on the movement side. A mere "Tourbillon" label on the dial let you know that it was there. It felt silly at the time but looking back on it, that 10-Day Tourbillon represented a classy move by Patek Philippe.
Looking at the 8 day power reserve in the 5200's movement and you see a lot of interesting tech as spelled out by the many letters in the caliber's name. The 28-20 has a lot in common with the movement in the 2003 5101P, and the same basic architecture is used for the power reserve length. The mainspring barrel is apparently the same, it is the instant-jump date dial and day of the week disc that account for it "losing" two days of power reserve length - thus eight versus 10 days.
The movement in the 5200 also contains the modern Silinvar, Pulsomax, and Spriomax technologies. We discussed these features at length when Patek Philippe released the limited edition 5550P Advanced Research watch in 2011. In short, they are silicon hairsprings, levers, and escapement wheels. The benefit here of course is oil-free (no lubrication necessary) parts of the movement as well as greater rate consistency which help the 4Hz rate of the watch. Each of these components work together in some of Patek's most modern movements, though some collectors are still not sure how they feel about non metallic parts for these traditional components.
Attached to the Patek Philippe 5200 Gondolo 8-Day are blue or black alligator straps. It is a beautifully classy watch with a modern heart that no doubt is meant to strike a chord with Patek's more fashionable or more technical fans. With a long power reserve and simple day/date mechanism, this is also a good (albeit expensive) daily wear in the Patek Philippe range. It hints at the style of the brand's grande complication watches, and is certainly more unique than their three-hand models. Nevertheless, it offers a relaxed look that will surely sit well on the wrists of many of Patek's mature wearers Price is $59,400. patek.com