Patek Philippe Introduces the Ref. 5236P In-line Perpetual Calendar

A brilliant new perpetual calendar.

Shortly after launching the Nautilus ref. 5711/1A in green, Patek Philippe is taking the covers off something far more serious in terms of mechanics – the Ref. 5236P In-line Perpetual Calendar.

Clearly inspired by vintage perpetual calendar watches like the refs. 3448 and 3450 (and a dial that’s modelled on a vintage Calatrava), the ref. 5236P is ranks as amongst the most notable Patek Philippe calendar watches of recent years – both in terms of design as well as its newly-developed movement.

Bearing a close resemblance to the ref. 5235 Annual Calendar – an under-appreciated watch that I regard highly – the new ref. 5236P is equipped with a built-from-scratch calendar module that’s as complicated as some entire perpetual calendar movements. And it is powered by a refined and improved version of the uncommon cal. 31-260 micro-rotor movement that was so far only found in the ref. 5235.

The cal. 31-260 PS QL in the new ref. 5236

An under-dial view of the calendar mechanism with the four co-planar discs at top

Initial thoughts

While clearly inspired by historical designs, the ref. 5236P manages to be different – and the most compelling perpetual calendar in Patek Philippe’s catalogue. The design heritage is clear: the ref. 5236P shares the same case style as the ref. 5235 annual calendar (which I like). Admittedly the ref. 5236P perhaps a bit too big to be as elegant as Patek Philippe’s most refined cases, but the size combined with the distinctive design makes it an unusually modern watch relative to most of the brand’s perpetual calendars.

And the ref. 5236P has an elegant linear display for the calendar that was most notably found on vintage pocket watches. It is symmetrical, legible, and a welcome departure from the traditional three-counter calendar layout that’s long been convention for Patek Philippe perpetual calendars.

To accomplish the linear display in a legible and slim manner, Patek Philippe built an extremely complex calendar module that requires some 60% more parts – or 118 components – than a conventional module according to the brand.

That means that the ref. 5236P is a pricey watch, costing some 40% more than current perpetual calendar models like the refs. 5327 or 5320. Those are admittedly in white gold while the ref. 5236P is platinum, but the difference is steep.

That said, the ref. 5236P a good looking watch with an ideal dose of historical inspiration – and an impressive new movement – which probably makes it well worth it as such things go.

Vintage inspiration

The ref. 5236P has a platinum case that’s 41.3 mm in diameter and 11.07 mm high, making it one of the larger perpetual calendars in the Patek Philippe catalogue and slightly larger than the ref. 5235.

But the style is essentially identical to that of the ref. 5235, characterised by straight, tapered lugs and a wide, flat bezel. Modelled on the case of the ref. 3448 and 3450, both desirable perpetual calendar wristwatches of the 1960s and 1970s, the case has a modern look despite its vintage inspiration.

Similarly, the dial brings to mind the ref. 5235. It’s finished with a pronounced vertical graining, exactly as on the ref. 5235, but lacquered in gradient blue that darkens to black at the edges, giving it a smoked or fume finish.

The hour marks are applied, white-gold batons, matched with baton hands, also in white gold. A little flourish comes in the form of the pointed counterweight of the cheveau, or “horse”, seconds hand.

Cal. 31-260 PS QL

The cal. 31-260 PS QL made up of a base movement derived from the calibre in the ref. 5235, along with a newly-developed perpetual calendar module that boasts several patents. (The “PS” and “QL” suffixes in the movement name are short for petite seconde, which is “small seconds”, and quantième perpétuel en ligne, or “in-line perpetual calendar”, respectively.)

While similar to the movement in the ref. 5235 (which is the cal. 31‑260 REG QA), the movement in the new ref. 5236P has been substantially reworked, from the foundations to the display.

To start with, the increased energy required to drive the perpetual calendar called for a 20% increase in the torque delivered by the mainspring, and a corresponding boost in the winding efficiency of the rotor. As a result, the micro-rotor is now platinum, an alloy that’s denser than the 22k gold found in the ref. 5235’s movement.

More interestingly, the beat rate of the movement was upped to 28,800 beats per hour, or 4 Hz, instead of the unusual 23,040 beats per hour of the ref. 5235. This improves the stability of timekeeping, even during the changeover of the calendar displays at midnight.

And the aesthetics of the movement have also been improved, with the single bridge of the ref. 5235 movement split into two finger bridges, one each for the fourth and escape wheel respectively. The trio of graceful finger bridges for the going train give the ref. 5236P’s movement a more classical aesthetic that brings to mind vintage pocket watch movements.

From left: The finger bridges for the escape, fourth, and third wheels

Though simple in expression, the perpetual calendar mechanism is complex – with the calendar module itself being made up of some 298, which is more than many entire perpetual calendar movements.

Smartly constructed to be thin but functional, the calendar mechanism is centred on four large discs that show the day, date, and month in a single, linear window. The discs sit on “two coplanar double ball bearings”, which are patent pending according to Patek Philippe.

The calendar is a “dragging” or gradual mechanism, where the displays change over a period of time around midnight. And as is convention for Patek Philippe, all of the calendar indications are set via recessed pushers in the case band.


Key facts and price

Patek Philippe In-line Perpetual Calendar
Ref. 5236P-001

Diameter: 41.3 mm
Height: 11.07 mm
Material: Platinum
Crystal: Sapphire
Water resistance: 30 m

Movement: Cal. 31-260 PS QL
Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds, and in-line perpetual calendar with moon phase
Frequency: 28,800 beats per hour (4 Hz)
Winding: Automatic
Power reserve: 38-48 hours

Strap: Alligator with platinum folding clasp

Availability: Now at retailers
Price: US$130,110; CHF110,000; or 171,500 Singapore dollars

For more, visit Patek.com.


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Ming’s 17-Series Takes a Final Bow

With the 17.09.

When Ming made its debut, it started with the 17-series, which embodies the raison d’etre of Ming in many ways, offering interesting, thoughtful design that represents good value.

After four eventful years – which included the 17.03 GMT and the 17.06 – Ming is closing the 17-series with one final model, the 17.09, a time-only wristwatch in blue or burgundy with an independently-adjustable hour hand.

Initial thoughts

I’ve always loved the 17-series, which always represented great bang-for-the-buck. Despite each model looking slightly different, the watches in the series all share the brand’s trademark aesthetic, despite being affordably priced. Between the two, my pick is the blue 17.09. It’s more striking, with the colour bringing out the guilloché better.

I think the new 17.09 looks great, especially with the “floating” minute track previously only seen on Ming’s higher-end models. The dual-layer dial is attractive, though the clous de Paris guilloché in the center is less unique than the spiral motif found on the dials of the 17.06.

All good things must come to an end, and Ming is closing its 17-series with a bang. At 1,950 Swiss francs, or about US$2,100, the 17.09 remains a value proposition and I’ll definitely be getting in line for one.

My pick is the blue model

A fitting farewell

The 17.09 retains several aesthetic elements of the earlier 17-series models, namely the “0” marker at 12 o’clock, flared lugs, and a 38 mm case that’s polished on the front and brushed on the sides. Interestingly, the hands on the 17.09 are skeletonised, making them similar to those found on the higher-priced 27 series.

Though similar in form, slight improvements have been made to the case. According to Ming, the lugs have been redesigned for more seamless flanks, while the case itself benefits from “proportional revisions for greater wrist presence”.

Beneath the 17.09’s solid case back is the cal. 330.M1, which is actually a Sellita SW330-2. Originally a dual time zone movement with an additional GMT hand, the SW330-2 was modified by movement maker Schwarz-Etienne for Ming.

By removing the hour hand and replacing the gears of the GMT hand, the Ming movement now boasts an independently-adjustable hour hand, a handy feature while travelling as it allows for changing time zones without losing the time setting.

Improved accessibility

Due to their affordability, the 17-series has always been high in demand, but low in supply because of Ming’s small production. Earlier 17-series models sold out within minutes of launch, leaving many would-be buyers frustrated.

For the final model, Ming is improving access in several ways, namely by offering the watches in batches, first to existing clients, and finally to the public with a “time limited batch” where all orders received within a 10-minute window are guaranteed.

A 50% deposit is necessary for orders placed during the “time limited batch”, and buyers will have to wait almost a year for delivery (or longer, depending on how many orders Ming receives during the 10-minute period).


Key facts and price

Ming 17.09

Diameter: 38 mm
Height: 10 mm
Material: Stainless steel
Crystal: Sapphire
Water resistance: 100 m

Movement: Cal. 330.M1
Functions: Hours and minutes, with independently-adjustable hour
Winding: Automatic
Frequency: 28,800 beats per hour (4 Hz)
Power reserve: 42 hours

Strap: Leather with pin buckle
Accessories: Leather travel pouch

Availability: Direct from Ming starting April 15, with first deliveries in October 2021
Price: 1,950 Swiss francs

For more, visit Ming.watch.


 

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Introducing the Ming 17.06 Copper and Monolith

The upgraded entry-level watch.

Ming Watches Introduces the 17.03 Anniversary Editions

An affordable GMT clad in blue.

Ming Debuts the Facelifted, Ultra-Thin 27.02

Minimalist sapphire and guilloché.

F.P. Journe Introduces the Octa Automatique 20th Anniversary

A brass movement once again.

Just as the new Octa Automatique is slated to join the catalogue, F.P. Journe is marking the 20th anniversary of the model with the Octa Automatique 20th Anniversary.

The 99-piece limited edition harks back to the original Octa Réserve de Marche of 2001, then the brand’s entry-level watch. Like the 2001 original, the 20th anniversary edition has a grained, yellow gold dial with a silver sub-dial. And more notably, it is powered by the cal. 1300.3 – but with the bridges and main plate in rhodium-plated brass, just as it was on the original.

One of the original Octa Reserve prototypes

The prototype movement

Initial thoughts

The Octa Automatique 20th Anniversary is modestly novel, but will appeal strongly given how it revokes the first-generation model. Given the current outsized desirability of F.P. Journe’s early watches with brass movements, this will be a hot watch.

Nips and tucks

Though seemingly identical to the original model, the new Octa Automatique is subtly different in terms of design, and substantially different in movement construction.

The displays have been rearranged and enlarged to suit the predominately larger case sizes offered by F.P. Journe today. While the original was 38 mm, the standard sizes are now 40 mm and 42 mm.

As a result, the date display is slightly larger than before, while the hour numerals are also bigger. Because the date has grown in size, the power reserve display now sits marginally lower than where it used to be.

A subtle details: the numerals for the date are in dark blue to match the hands

The cal. 1300.3 also now winds unidirectionally, instead of in both directions as it once did. And its bridges have been lightly reshaped, thought retains its distinctive rotor that sits ever so slightly off centre.

And starting with the 20th anniversary edition, the revised bridges will now be the norm on all cal. 1300.3 movements.

Incoming

The 99-piece limited edition is actually the first of a new Octa Automatique that will be part of the regular line up.

Powered by the same cal. 1300.3 except with its bridges and base plate in 18k red gold as is the norm, the new Octa Automatique will be available in the typical F.P. Journe combinations: means either a 40 mm or 42 mm case in platinum or 18k rose gold, while the dials will be either grey or pink gold with guilloche silver sub-dial.


F.P. Journe Octa Automatique 20th Anniversary
Ref. AN SL 40

Diameter: 40 mm
Height: 10.07 mm
Material: Platinum
Crystal: Sapphire
Water resistance: 30 m

Movement: Cal. 1300.3
Functions: Hours, minute, seconds, power reserve indicator, and date
Additional features: Bridges and base plate in rhodium-plated brass
Winding: Automatic
Frequency: 21,600 beats per hour (3 Hz)
Power reserve: 160 hours

Strap: Alligator strap

Limited edition: 99 pieces
Availability:
 Only at F.P. Journe boutiques and Espaces
Price: 56,000 Swiss francs excluding taxes

For more information, visit Fpjourne.com.


 

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