The ref. 5320G-001 is the newest perpetual calendar from Patek Philippe, taking its cues from a pair of watches from the 1950s, the refs. 2497 and 2438, both perpetual calendars with a similar dial style.
But the new has an even more specific inspiration that now sits in the Patek Philippe museum: the steel ref. 1591, a one-off example once owned by a Maharajah that was sold by Christie’s for over US$2m in 2007.
Though the inspiration is mid 20th century, the build quality of the watch is distinctly modern. The dial is retro, even the lugs have tinges of Art Deco style, but the construction of both are impressively detailed in a manner only modern production can achieve. Those elements, more than the somewhat derivative design, are really what make the watch stand out.
Like the two vintage models that inspired it, the new ref. 5320G has a pair of apertures at 12 o’clock for the day and month, while the date is on a sub-dial at six that also contains the moon phase.
On either side of the moon phase are circular windows, the leftmost a day and night indicator and the other for the leap year. The layout gives the dial a pleasing symmetry and functional appearance, while also being legible. While there’s little to criticise in the utility of the dial, it won’t win any awards for ingenuity.
Another strength is the fit and finish of the dial, which is excellent. It has a glossy, cream surface that is lacquer and not enamel (one can fantasise about the day Patek Philippe delivers a fired enamel dial on a perpetual at this price), that suits the look of the watch.
The Arabic numerals and round five minute markers that are made of black-coated 18k gold, as are the hands. These blackened gold elements look very good up close.
And the impression left by the case is similar. Made of white gold and a good 40mm in diameter, not too big or too small as Goldilocks might say, the case has triple stepped lugs with pointed tips that curve downwards, a look adopted from the ref. 2405 of the 1950s. It’s a flamboyant detail that’s only apparent up close.
The lugs meet the flat, sloping bezel, which in turn sits under a “box-shape” sapphire crystal. It’s domed with an angular edge, bringing to mind the Plexiglas crystals on vintage watches.
The rest of the case is equally well made in terms of detailing and finish, significantly surpassing the construction of the cases used for better known Patek Philippe perpetual calendars, which historically had relatively simple cases.
Notably, the case is a single piece, meaning the bezel and case middle are one (the snap-on case back is separate). The case blank is stamped out from a block of gold, then machined to fill out the finer elements like the fluting on the lugs. While stamped cases are usually associated with simpler, inexpensive forms, the case in this case, no pun intended, is properly detailed.
Inside the cal. 324 S Q, a self-winding calibre with a perpetual calendar module on top. Distinguished by its full rotor, the base cal. 324 is usually found in the brand’s annual calendars.
The cal. 324 S Q is a new calibre in the sense that it’s the first time this particular perpetual module is paired with the base movement. Almost identical to the perpetual calendar mechanism found in the ref. 5270 chronograph – both share the same calendar layout – the perpetual calendar module is functionally familiar, and set via recessed pushers in the case band.
Visually the movement is impossible to distinguish from that in other models. It’s finished in the same manner, decorated to be attractive but with done so with a combination of manual and mechanical application.
On the wrist the ref. 5320G feels like a modern watch, being substantial enough in size and weight, with all the detailing expected of a contemporary timepiece. It just happens to be wearing 1950s period dress.
Price and availability
Priced similar to other Patek Philippe perpetual calendars and comparable watches from other brands that aspire to be Patek Philippe, the ref. 5320G is still a lot of money for what is is. It’ll carry a price tag of SFr73,000 or S$109,000, and be available sometime later this year.
Correction April 2, 2017: The white gold case is not rhodium-plated as stated earlier.
Addition April 16, 2017: Elaboration on the fact that the bezel and case are a single, stamped piece.