To the relief and delight of many a watch aficionado, Swiss high-complication specialist Patek Philippe has unveiled three new timepieces for 2020, after the maison initially indicated that it would push most or all of its planned releases to 2021 in response to the pandemic and its economic fallout. The first and most noteworthy is the Ref. 5303R-001 Minute Repeater, the first Patek minute repeater with an openwork-design, dial-side chiming mechanism; the others are reinterpreted versions of the Ref. 5370 Split-Seconds Chronograph and Ref. 5270 Perpetual Calendar Chronograph.
With the Ref. 5303 Minute Repeater Tourbillon, a slightly modified version of the 12-piece limited edition introduced in Singapore in 2019, Patek Philippe builds upon its revered history of chiming watches, which began in 1845 and attained new levels of complexity in recent triumphs such as the Grandmaster Chime. The watch, in a 42-mm rose-gold case with white gold inlays bearing a foliage-motif engraving on the caseband and lugs, has no conventional dial but rather an openworked architecture in which the hammers and gongs of the repeater mechanism are in full view from the front. The movement, Patek’s manually wound caliber R TO 27 PS, also incorporates a tourbillon, with the back side of its cage visible behind the small seconds subdial at 6 o’clock.
Through a sapphire exhibition caseback, one can view the movement components, many pierced in the classic style of skeletonization and manually finished. The mainplate features a Geneva circular grained finish and perlage-decorated recesses; the hammers of the repeater’s chiming mechanism also boast a circular satin finish. The slide that activates the repeater, in the left-hand flank of the case, is embellished with the same engraved foliage motif as the case sides and lugs, as is the white-gold rim that frames the movement on the rear side. The black-lacquered sapphire minute rim around the open dial is punctuated by powdered rose-gold markers; pointing to them is a pair of leaf-shaped, pierced hands also lacquered in black. The watch is mounted on a hand-stitched alligator leather strap; price is upon request.
Patek Philippe launched the first split-seconds chronograph with its in-house Caliber CHR 29-535 PS in 2015. That watch had a platinum case and a black enamel dial; this year’s model uses the same precious metal for its 41-mm case and adds a vibrant, gloss-finished Grand Feu blue enamel dial, enhanced with applied Breguet numerals and leaf-shaped hands in 18k white gold. White print is applied for the railroad-track-bordered subdial counters at 3 and 9 o’clock and the outer tachymeter scale. The stopwatch functions are controlled via two pushers and the button in the crown, the latter of which activates the rattrapante hand.
Behind the sapphire caseback is Patek Philippe’s manufacture Caliber CH 29-535 PS, a manually winding integrated chronograph movement that memorably debuted in 2009 in a ladies’ model, the Ref. 7071. The movement, which superseded the Lemania-based calibers that Patek Philippe had been using in its chronographs prior to its introduction, is equipped with a column wheel and horizontal clutch, along with six patented inventions that include optimized tooth profiles for the wheels and self-adjusting reset hammers. It beats at 28,800 vph and amasses a minimum 65-hour power reserve with the chronograph disengaged. Like all of Patek’s in-house movements, it features the lavish finishing necessary to earn the Patek Philippe seal, with decorative highlights including Geneva stripes and chamfered, polished edges on the bridges and plates. Presented on a blue alligator strap, the watch is priced at $263,093.
Combining perpetual calendars with chronograph functions is a Patek Philippe specialty — few other watchmakers even venture into that high-horology territory — and one of the standouts is the Ref. 5270, introduced in 2018 in platinum and rose gold cases. This year’s successor uses a classical yellow-gold case for the first time in this family, pairing it with a silver opaline dial. The leaf hands are also in yellow gold, sweeping around the dial’s elegant arrangement of displays: day and month in windows below 12 o’clock, subdials at 3 and 9 o’clock for elapsed minutes and running seconds, and a combined analog date display/moon-phase at 6 o’clock, with day-night aperture and leap-year indication surrounding it on either side. A tachymeter scale occupies the dial’s outer edge.
Beating inside the 41-mm-diameter case with its concave bezel and gadrooned lugs is another in-house caliber, Patek Philippe’s CH 29-535 PS Q, combining all the attributes of the movement found in the split-seconds chronograph covered above (horizontal clutch, column wheel and manual winder, six patented chronograph innovations) with an extremely thin calendar mechanism — just 1.65 mm thick and comprising 182 parts. The Ref. 5270J Chronograph Perpetual — which comes with interchangeable casebacks, one with a sapphire window to admire the caliber, the other a traditional solid back in yellow gold, is offered on a brown alligator strap with foldover clasp; it’s priced at $168,970.