s far back as 1839, when the company was founded, one of the first timepieces crafted in the manufacture was a quarter repeater that can now be admired at the Patek Philippe Museum in Geneva. As the 19th century continued to unfold, Patek Philippe further pursued its passion for grand complications, crafted many watches of this type, and received several patents for technical optimizations.
In the 20th century, the manufacture earned a legendary reputation for so-called supercomplicated pocket watches that were made for the American collectors James Ward Packard and Henry Graves Jr. and featured chiming functions as well as elaborate astronomical displays. At the same time, Patek Philippe was involved in miniaturizing grand complications so they could be worn on the wrist, as evidenced in 1925 by the first known wristwatch with a perpetual calendar.
In the last decades of the 20th century, the manufacture again celebrated a milestone in this exceptional watch category and presented two pocket watches that the world had never seen before: the Calibre 89 (33 complications) that would be the world’s most complicated portable mechanical timepiece for 25 years, and the Star Caliber 2000 with 21 complications. In 2001, the art of miniaturizing highly elaborate mechanisms found its ultimate expression with the launch of the Sky Moon Tourbillon (12 complications) and subsequently, in 2014, with the Grandmaster Chime that with 20 complications would become Patek Philippe’s most complicated wristwatch.
Today, Patek Philippe has one of the most comprehensive collections of regularly produced grand complications, including minute repeaters with perpetual calendars, astronomical watches, timepieces with tourbillons and models that combine several of these highly coveted functions. As the outcome of know-how transfers from one generation to the next and underpinned with the results of high-end research, these watches follow two fundamental principles that are highly important to Patek Philippe.
One of them is to rise to the challenge of accommodating a maximum of technical complexity in a minimal volume (smallest possible height and diameter), allowing the design of very slender cases that project timeless elegance. Secondly, each complication – no matter how elaborate – must be simple to operate for the user and be a role model of convenience, functional integrity, and legibility. The three grand complications of 2020 illustrate this philosophy very convincingly. They embody a level of craftsmanship that makes each Patek Philippe a precious work of art.
As the heir of Patek Philippe’s grand 1941 classic (Ref. 1518), the Ref. 5270 Perpetual Calendar Chronograph has been available since 2018 in platinum with a golden opaline dial and a rose-gold version with a gold “goutte”-style bracelet. Now, the manufacture is extending its regular collection of this grand complication by the Ref. 5270, cased in yellow gold for the first time. It is a very elegant outfit for this timeless watch that pairs a concave bezel with two-tier lugs.
The silvery opaline dial with applied baton indexes and leaf-shaped hands in yellow gold assures excellent legibility. The displays of the perpetual calendar are tastefully balanced with an analog date at 6 o’clock and a double aperture for the day and month at 12 o’clock. They are complemented with two small round apertures for the day/night indicator and the leap year cycle as well as the typical moon-phase window.
The caliber CH 29-535 PS Q is the first chronograph movement with a perpetual calendar developed in 2011 and crafted entirely by Patek Philippe.
It combines traditional architecture (horizontal clutch, column wheel and manual winder) with six patented innovations for the chronograph functions and stands out with its extremely thin calendar mechanism (1.65 mm for 182 parts). The movement can be admired through the sapphire-crystal case back. A solid back in 18K yellow gold is part of the scope of delivery.
The new Ref. 5270J-001 is worn on a hand-stitched matt chocolate brown alligator strap with large square scales secured with a yellow-gold fold-over clasp. It joins the previous platinum and rose-gold models to accommodate the individual preferences of aficionados of Patek Philippe grand complications.