For 2017, Patek Philippe has released their fifth “Advanced Research” watch, designed to show off the latest innovations and material developments from the brand. The Patek Philippe Aquanaut Travel Time Ref. 5650G “Patek Philippe Advanced Research” watch shows off two developments being introduced by the brand: a Spiromax balance spring made of Silinvar (Patek’s proprietary silicon) and a “flexible-mechanism” for the second-time zone settings. Notably, this is the first Patek Philippe watch to have a partially open dial which is probably going to cause pearl-clutching or weary criticism, but Patek wanted to show off the design of the movement and went for it. So, good on them.

The Spiromax dual terminal curve Silinvar balance spring has two terminal curves and an inner boss, which Patek claims results in an overall improvement in isochronism of the balance in vertical orientations. This leads to an accuracy of -1/+2 seconds per day which allegedly marks a performance increase that’s likened to Patek’s tourbillon watches. The actual benefits and effects of the tourbillon aren’t really totally provable, but nonetheless, we get an improvement in accuracy with the new Patek Philippe Advanced Research Aquanaut Travel Time 5650G’s development.

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The second big development is the use of compliant (or: flexible) mechanisms made from steel in the second time-zone setting functions. While this isn’t a new material development, it’s a demonstration of how Patek is aiming to improve on existing mechanisms. Compliant or flexible mechanisms basically means using the elasticity of materials (here that material is stainless steel) to replace mechanisms created by pivots and leaf springs.

Patek Philippe, 5650G_001-DET, Advanced Research

The new mechanism Patek developed features four crossed leaf springs, one for the corrector button that sets the lever and one for the corrector button for the break that advances the gear rim. These leaf springs cross over each other with 0.15mm of space in between each incredibly thin leaf spring. The benefits here are that assembly is simpler with 12 parts as opposed to 37, 4 screws that result in a faster assembly, flatter 1.24mm silhouette (compared to 1.45mm), and a lubricant-free functionality which improves the overall quality of mechanical operation over time due to a loss of friction.

Patek Philippe, 5650G_001, Advanced Research

Beyond these developments and the partially open dial, you still have the 18k white gold dual time zone watch that runs on the 324 S C FUS movement used in the non-Advanced Research model as well as pieces like the Calatrava Pilot Travel Time. The 40.8mm wide and 11mm thick case is water-resistant to 120m on a night-blue strap.

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I think a lot of people often don’t associate Patek Philippe with materials innovation and research, and the partially openworked dial is almost certainly a conscious design decision aimed at grabbing attention and making the “Advanced Research” designation something more than a quietly introduced development pronouncing the steady but sometimes overlooked dedication of the brand to the continuous improvement of their movements.

Patek Philippe, 5650G_001-DET, Advanced Research

The Patek Philippe Advanced Research Aquanaut Travel Time 5650G watch is going to be a limited-edition piece of 500 watches. If there are any of these not yet spoken for, they have a price of just around $59,000 each.

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