The most interesting thing to me about the current perception of the Patek Philippe 5270 “Grand Complication” Perpetual Calendar Chronograph is that it is considered a formal watch, while a look at its historical inspiration makes it more of a sports watch. How did this rather traditional, classic-looking sports watch design become something to wear with a suit?
That is a good question which has a lot to do with the world of fashion and style as things develop over time. Perhaps the biggest clue that this beautiful Patek Philippe timepiece is inspired by historic sport watches is the placement of the tachymeter scale around the bezel. Such a tool is (was) used for being able to measure the speed of an observed object using the chronograph. Pretty much the only time anyone used something like this was during races – the domain of sport watches.
The chronograph itself is a sporty feature anyway. There are few instances that do not involve sports that require the careful timing of activities. Yes, chronographs have their contemporary utility, but it is also true that much of the time, people buy them because they look and feel cool. Those additional subdials, those extra pushers. Together, these elements create a visual fantasy where the wearer (and those viewing the wearer) can fantasize about their lifestyle and what they might be able to do with it.
In many ways, the appeal of vintage-styled watches is intrinsically linked to our nostalgia for the past – especially those times that we did not personally live through. Stories and movies idealize the past, and in hindsight, everything was, of course, better. So using that logic, some people might consider timepieces to be mini time machines and by strapping one on that relates to a different era, we are instantly thrust into the past – at least in some sense.
This might all sound silly and emotional, but it does apply when watch collectors use emotions as a base to make purchases. The emotional reason we are fascinated with old-looking watches is something worth exploring in a time when so many old-looking watches are popular. That isn’t to say watches don’t have a timeless element to them, but among products that guys like to purchase today, timepieces are something conspicuously kept in the past. A good example is how fascinated we are with mechanical watches as well as analog dials. If people had less emotional connection to the past and were instead more focused on the present or future, we would be all wearing high-end electronic watches with digital displays (well, it is true that some people do).
This all takes me back to not only Patek Philippe as a brand, but the reference 5270 watch family that the Swiss watch maker originally debuted in 2011. aBlogtoWatch went hands-on with the original Patek Philippe 5270G watch here. Later, in 2014, we took a look at line extensions of the popular Patek Philippe Perpetual Calendar Chronograph, checking out the 5270P and the 5271 (with diamonds) here. For 2015, Patek Philippe extends the 5270 collection once again by adding an 18k rose gold 5270R version to the existing 18k white gold and platinum models.
I’m not a Patek Philippe fanatic like some watch collectors, but I do, of course, have a wealth of appreciation for the brand. One of the few Patek watches I really like is the Patek Philippe 5270, which is why I continue to cover what is essentially the same watch over and over again (though Patek Philippe continues to release new versions). I like what the Patek Philippe 5270 represents and how well it is executed. While the movement inside the watch is modern, it is thoroughly historic in how it is executed and its inspiration. What we have is a well-sized classic-looking watch with a stunningly refined dial that in many ways epitomizes what Patek Philippe is good at.
Earlier, I mentioned how a design like that of the Patek Philippe 5270R’s dial would have been a sports watch in the past, and how it became more of a dress watch today. One reason that watches such as this are no longer considered sport watches is that since timepiece like this were “invented,” watch makers have developed much better sports watches! 1940s and 1950s era sport watches are remarkably fragile compared to sports watches of today. Even the paltry 30 meters of water resistance on the Patek Philippe 5270 would have been impressive by 1940s standards.
Where the Patek Philippe 5270 is not a direct analog of vintage timepieces is in its 41mm wide size. There have been a slew of Patek Philippe watches that look similar to this Patek Philippe 5270R-001 Perpetual Calendar Chronograph and other 5270 models, but most have been much smaller on the wrist. While 41mm wide is not huge at all, it is very much on the larger-end for a classic, complicated dress watch of this style. Now in 18k rose gold, Patek Philippe finally gives collectors the ability to show off a bit (and not have to use diamonds in the process).
Over the still-short lifespan of the Patek Philippe 5270 family, there have been several dial variations, and I still like the original from 2011 with its black oxidized gold hands and hour markers. Slightly more traditional in its style, the Patek Philippe 5270R has an 18k rose gold case with matching hands and hour markers on the “silvery opaline” face.
Perhaps it is the legibility and symmetry of the dial which has allowed this style to endure for so long. The combination of a chronograph and a triple calendar (day of the week, month, and date) simply look very nice together. On top of that, the calendar is a perpetual calendar with a leap year indicator, and the dial also has a moonphase and an AM/PM indicator for the time. Again, everything is symmetrical and laid out logically. Patek Philippe today need only look at their archives to discover the best foundation for a new dial, but the Patek Philippe of yesterday needed to spend copious amounts of design research when coming up with dials such as this over the past 100 years or so.
One “mistake” (according to some) that Patek Philippe made with some versions of the 5270 was to create a “chin” on the dial with the tachymeter scale flowing around the date indicator subdial. People tend to appreciate the look more when the date subdial literally overlaps the scale around the periphery of the dial. Still, some people will be upset by the overlap. Then again, is anyone going to be actually using this outer scale? I agree that the date indicator window takes precedence.
Patek Philippe is usually very meticulous about dial design and detailing, and that is very much exemplified on the Patek Philippe 5270R. There is the right amount of polish on the hands and hour markers without too much, and everything is super crisp. I also appreciate how the hands are the correct size.
At 41mm wide, the Patek Philippe 5270R might actually be too large for some people who expect extremely “traditionally-sized” timepiece of this style. The flared lugs add to the sense of girth – which is something that I appreciate. While there will be some people who complain about the size of the watch as being too large, to them I simply ask, “doesn’t Patek Philippe make enough smaller watches for your taste?”
Viewed through the sapphire crystal caseback of the watch, you can see the in-house made Patek Philippe caliber CH 29-535 PS Q manually wound mechanical movement. It isn’t the most beautiful movement in the world, but it won’t let you down at all. The movement has a maximum power reserve of 65 hours, and I really like that it operates at a modern 4Hz (28,800 bph) frequency. Rather complicated, the movement is comprised of 456 parts. All that I could ask for would be for it to also be an automatic (my own personal preference).
New for 2015, the Patek Philippe 5270R-001 is a beautiful new addition to the Patek Philippe 5720 Perpetual Calendar Chronograph watch collection with the addition of 18k rose gold, and I think anyone interested in the concept will be pleasantly satisfied despite the typically “elite” cost. Price is $164,000 (which actually makes it the most affordable 5270 yet). patek.com