The launch of a new Patek Philippe perpetual calendar was always going to be the talking point at Baselworld. The venerable Geneva brand, which famously gave the world its first wristwatch with a perpetual calendar in 1925, has a prestigious history with that complication and this year, the brand unveiled the new Ref. 5320G to add to its catalogue.
The Ref. 5320G Perpetual Calendar bears the vintage influence of several historical predecessors, including that groundbreaking 1925 model — a unique piece dubbed 97’975, and currently part of the collection at the Patek Philippe Museum in Geneva — as well as several other perpetual calendar watches from the 1940s and 1950s, most of which make only rare appearances nowadays, usually on the auction block.
Patek first integrated the perpetual calendar wristwatch into its regular collection in 1941 with the introduction of Ref. 1518, a watch that combined a perpetual calendar with a chronograph. A year later, Ref. 1526, a model without a chronograph function, debuted.
Both pieces pioneered the distinctive dial design that still today defines Patek Philippe’s perpetual calendar timepieces: a double aperture directly below 12 o’clock for the day and month displays, and a subdial at 6 o’clock with a moon-phase indicator surrounded by an analog date display.
This watch, with its historical-looking cream-colored lacquer dial, adds a few new, subtle elements to this classical layout: a small, round day-night aperture between 7 and 8 o’clock and a round aperture for the leap-year cycle, with Arabic numerals from 1 to 4, between 4 and 5 o’clock.
Other familiar elements include the applied gold Arabic numerals and five-minute cabochons with luminous coating, fine-tipped baton hands filled with Super-LumiNova (a nod to Patek’s Ref. 1463 chronograph from the 1950s), a thin, counterbalanced sweep seconds hand; and the graduated seconds scale around the dial’s perimeter.
The watch uses a 40 mm case that is stamped from a single piece of 18K white-gold. Only 11.4 mm thick, it is manufactured in-house and features a very art-deco style stepped lugs that are manually finished. This type of stepped lugs was seen in the Ref. 2405 made in the Fifities. The slender bezel sits under a “box-form” sapphire crystal over the dial, against reminiscent of the box plexiglass crystals of yore.
Also, a bonus for those who prefer an even more vintage-appropriate style: the watch comes with a solid white-gold caseback that can be swapped with the sapphire exhibition back. The watch’s manufacture movement is Caliber 324 S Q (“S” for seconds, “Q” for quantième perpétuel, or perpetual calendar), based on Patek’s self-winding Caliber 324, which is powered by a large rotor in 21K gold.
Expect to see an array of haute horlogerie finishes and technical refinements for which Patek Philippe has become renowned: bridges with round-chamfered and polished edges; Geneva striping; gold-filled engravings, screws with polished, chamfered slots in bores with polished countersinks.
The escapement uses a Gyromax balance with Spiromax balance spring made of Silinvar; and the aforementioned solid-gold rotor, suspended between ball bearings and decorated with perlage, circular graining, and an engraved Calatrava cross.
Like all modern Patek Philippe calibers, this one meets the strict precision and quality criteria of the Patek Philippe seal, meaning, among other things, that its maximum rate deviation ranges between -3 and +2 seconds per day.
The Patek Philippe Ref. 5320G Perpetual Calendar comes on a lined, hand-stitched, chocolate brown alligator strap with large square scales. It fastens with an 18K white gold fold-over clasp in the shape of Patek’s iconic Calatrava cross. The price? Approximately, $82,800.