Patek’s 2019 Baselworld Releases:
A Mixture of Hits and Misses

Article By: Alexander Baskin

FROM THE PRESS | APR 19, 2019

HEAVY-HITTERS AT BASELWORLD 2018

Refs 5740, 5270, and 5531
Source: Patek Philippe

ITERATIVE RELEASES AT BASELWORLD 2019

Patek’s Baselworld 2019 Novelties
Source: Patek Philippe

Patek Philippe followed a year of heavy-hitters in 2018—the Nautilus Perpetual Calendar (ref. 5740), the salmon dial Perpetual Calendar Chronograph (ref. 5270), and the World Time Minute Repeater (ref. 5531)—with a mixture of subdued, iterative releases and completely new models that missed the mark somewhat. The new Aquanaut 5168G-010 is simply the existing 5168G-001 with a new khaki green strap and dial. The new Nautilus annual calendar 5726/1A-014 is merely the Patek 5726A-001 on a steel integrated bracelet and with a new blue dial. The new annual calendar regulator reference 5235/50R-001 is simply the previous annual calendar regulator 5235G in a new case metal and with a new dial color.

NEARLY INSTANT CLASSICS
Patek had three releases that were within a millimeter of being instant classics, but subtle details left these releases wanting.

1) Patek Philippe 5212A-001 Calatrava Weekly Calendar

Ref 5212
Source: Patek Philippe

Patek Philippe has been a pioneer of calendar complications. Patek invented the annual calendar complication in 1996, initially releasing it in the reference 5035. Patek flexed its capabilities in the realm of calendar complications with the introduction of a weekly calendar complication in the new reference 5212A-001.

Ref 5035
Source: Collector Square

The 5212A takes inspiration from vintage calendar watches with radial indications for the day of the week and the week of the year. The radial day and week indicators give order and symmetry to a dial that could become cluttered with too many apertures and indications. Despite being placed at 3 o’clock, the date aperture manages to minimally distract from the symmetry of the dial by using the same black font and white/cream background as the rest of the dial. While the date aperture isn’t obstructive, I’m still unimpressed by how it was conceived. For a watch designed to celebrate a calendar complication, the date aperture placement seems like somewhat of an afterthought. A Lange-esque big date would be equally out of place on the 5212A, but a middle ground could be struck by moving the date to 6 o’clock, where Patek positions the date on many of its annual calendar watches.

The case of the 5212A is one of its strongest points of the watch. The lugs of the 5212A mimic the stepped lug design of the perpetual calendar reference 5320G-001, which has its roots in the vintage reference 2405, but are simpler in design with only two steps on the lugs instead of three. This relatively new case design from Patek brings into harmony the lugs of the reference 2405 and the crisp, angular case of the vintage perpetual calendar reference 3448.

Refs 2405, 5320, 3448
Sources: Collector’s Square, Patek Philippe, Phillips (Respectively)

The design of the 5212A gets muddled when viewed in the light of the watch’s purpose as a watch for “the modern businessman.” The watch’s black polished hands and hour markers maintain the watch’s clarity and formality, but the watch’s pseudo “handwritten” font thoroughly confuses me. “Authentically reproduced handwritten characters” are decidedly casual for a formal watch that’s intended to impress in the boardroom. Patek bills their new font as “exclusive,” but in this case “exclusive” is synonymous with peculiar and out of place. A pared-down, uniform font pulled from one of Patek’s annual calendars would be better suited to the occasion that the 5212A is geared towards.

Almost as out of place as the handwritten font on the dial of the 5212A is the calf strap that the watch comes on. Calatrava cased Patek calendar watches typically come on alligator straps to match the formality of Patek’s Calatrava designs. The 5212A would pair more logically with a conventional alligator strap. Putting the 5212A on a calf strap is part of an ineffective effort by Patek to dress down the watch to appeal to a younger clientele, who may be more interested in the less formal Nautilus and Aquanaut.

2) Patek Reference 7118 Time and Date Nautilus

Ref 7118
Source: Patek Philippe

Patek succumbed to its commercial interests with its release of five new configurations of the existing reference 7118. The reference 7118 is a mid-sized, time-only Nautilus that measures 35.2mm across from the point on the case corresponding to 10 o’clock and that corresponding to 4 o’clock. Patek released the 7118 in steel with a diamond-set bezel with either a blue, white, or grey dial and in rose gold with either a white or rose gold dial.

The most notable feature of the 7118 is its wavy dial. Patek designed the wavy dial of the 7118, in conjunction with rounded off hour indices and tapered hands, to give the 7118 a “very feminine style” that would appeal to female clientele.

However, with a new handset and blue-black dial inspired by that of the reference 3800, the reference 7118 in steel could be a stellar mid-sized sports watch for men, as well. If the date aperture on the reference 7118 were at 3 o’clock instead of 6 o’clock, the 7118 would look superb redialed with a new old stock reference 3800 dial and handset.

Ref. 3800
Source: Tourneau

3) Patek Reference 5172G-001 2 Sub-register Chronograph

Ref. 5172
Source: Patek Philippe

The reference 5172 follows a line of modern manually-wound chronographs that started with the sought-after, oversized reference 5070, and continued with the supremely clean and legible reference 5170. The line of Patek manual-wind chronographs traces all the way back to the iconic waterproof chronograph reference 1463.

Lineage of Patek Manual-wind Chronographs

Refs 1463, 5070, 5170
Sources: Phillips, The Keystone, and Tourneau (respectively)

Patek released the reference 5172 in a new white gold case that’s evolutionary in shape, but revolutionary in application. The case of the 5172 beautifully mimics the angular case design of the perpetual calendar reference 5320G-001 with its three-stepped lugs. The 5172, however, is the first chronograph to use this bold, sleek case design. My only objection to the case of the 5172 is its 41mm size. While the 5172’s case treads a middle ground between the 39.4mm case of the 5170 and the 42mm case of the 5070, I prefer the more svelte, vintage case size of the 5170.

At its core, the 5172 is identical to its predecessor, the 5170. The 5172 shares the in-house CH 29-535 PS movement with the 5170. I disagree with the critics that have found the in-house movement to look diminutive in the 41mm case of the 5172. The movement is ringed by a modest expanse of white gold, making it neither diminutive nor unwieldy in the caseback.

The dial side of the 5172 clearly evokes the watch’s ancestor: the 5172 takes the luminous Arabic numeral hour markers and syringe hands directly from a unique reference 1463 made for iconic American racing driver, Briggs Cunningham. The 5172 also utilizes the iconic engraved pump pushers from the reference 1463 and mimics the Briggs Cunningham 1463 with its dark blue dial. The subdials are the only portion of the watch to deviate significantly, a result of the architecture of the CH 29-535 caliber powering the watch. The subdials also have railroad track time markers, a nod to other, more conventional reference 1463s.

Only one flaw exists in the subsidiary dials of the 5172: the subsidiary dials have an ornamented, curly serif font that starkly contrasts with the simple san serif font used for the hour markers on the dial. This glaring lack of font cohesiveness is surprising for the latest addition to the lineage of manually wound Patek chronographs.

Briggs Cunningham 1463
Source: HODINKEE

Conclusion
Patek Philippe’s releases at Baselworld 2019 were a good indicator of the direction the manufacture should go in for years to come. Somewhat lackluster, iterative releases, including the khaki green Aquanaut, the annual calendar Nautilus on a bracelet, and the 7118, provide financial support for Patek’s more audacious pieces, such as its new weekly calendar, new manually wound chronograph, and the reference 6300G-010 Grand Master Chime, in the same way that SUVs have provided financial stability for sports car manufacturers like Porsche and Lamborghini. If this stability means Patek can continue to produce the kinds of pieces that watch geeks fawn over, then it’s a trade off I’m willing to accept.

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