August 23, 2016
by Kenny Yeo
The perpetual calendar is one of the most rare and desirable complications to have in a watch, and few can claim mastery over this complication as Patek Philippe can. After all, Patek Philippe did introduce the world’s first perpetual calendar wristwatch way back in 1925. And if that weren’t enough, they even invented the annual calendar just 20 years ago – but we digress. The complication we are interested in today is the perpetual calendar, and for 2016 we see the Patek Philippe Perpetual Calendar 5496P-015 in platinum.
The reference 5496 was first introduced in 2011, and represents one of the six perpetual calendar-only references from Patek Philippe – the others being the 5139, 5140, 5940, 5159, and 5160. It stands out a bit among other perpetual calendar pieces since most people are accustomed to seeing perpetual calendars with three sub-dials. Indeed, just enter “perpetual calendar watch” into Google Images and just count the sheer number of results that have the more typical three sub-dial arrangement. Three sub-dials or not, the Patek Philippe Perpetual Calendar 5496 watch indicates day, month, date, and leap year as any perpetual calendar watch would.
You can see the month and day with two apertures at 3 and 9 o’clock, respectively. The date is indicated by a retrograde display within the dial. A leap year indicator at 12 o’clock and a moonphase indicator at 6 o’clock completes the look of the dial. It’s a rather unusual dial configuration as far as perpetual calendars go, but it is highly legible. I actually find it to be more easy to read than the traditional three-sub-dial configuration.
Inside the Patek Philippe Perpetual Calendar 5496P beats the self-winding Caliber 324 S QR. It is composed of 361 parts and is, as you would expect from a watch bearing the Patek Philippe Seal, masterfully finished. Some other features include the silicon Gyromax balance, Spiromax balance spring, and the large 21K solid gold rotor. The movement operates at 28,800bph and has a maximum power reserve of 45 hours.
The Caliber 324 S QR isn’t unique to the reference 5496 watch, and is currently found in two other Patek lines that have very similar dial layouts but considerably different styles and personalities. The reference 5159 and 5160 are both more traditional-looking models that are also officer’s watches, meaning they have a hinged cover on the back of the watch. Other touches like the long lugs, smaller 38mm case, Roman numerals, and Breguet numerals all add up to a distinctly less contemporary look.
The Patek Philippe Perpetual Calendar 5496P-015 features a platinum case, with a case dimension unchanged from previous versions at 39.5mm, and water resistance remains the same at 30 meters (what were you expecting from a dress watch?). The straight lugs arch slightly for better wearing comfort, and the watch is offered with a choice of a solid or see-through sapphire crystal case back. As for the strap, it’s a hand stitched brown alligator that has specially selected square scales for a naturally uniform look.
The Patek Philippe Perpetual Calendar 5496P-015 has a sublime satin-finished silver dial, applied gold markers, and dauphine hands. The moonphase aperture also has gold accents too. It’s hard to see from the photos, but a highlight has got to be the expertly finished hour markers and hands. It shimmers and glints brilliantly, and helps make time readable even if lighting conditions are poor. The applied date markers also give the dial an added sense of depth. Everything looks absolutely pristine and impeccably done, which is really not a surprise at all when you consider the fact that you’re paying six figures for a watch from a brand with a reputation that ranks among the most well-known high-end luxury watchmakers.
The Patek Philippe Perpetual Calendar 5496P-015 takes one of watchmaking’s most difficult and exclusive complications and adds a breath of fresh air with clean lines, a legible and useful dial that’s not busy or messy, and wraps it all in that most stealth-wealth of metals that is platinum. The 39.5mm wide size is perfect for the contemporary wearer, without pushing the limits of the tradition the brand holds dear. Price for the platinum Patek Philippe Perpetual Calendar 5496P-015 watch is just around $108,000. patek.com