Patek Philippe Ref. 5160: An Overlooked Mechanical Delicacy?
When most people think of Patek Philippe, they think of the evergreen models that roll off the lips of enthusiasts all over the world: Nautilus, Gondolo, Calatrava and, perhaps even, that delectable worldtimer that appeared in 2013’s new Patek Philippe offerings as Reference 5130. But one of the many elements that I personally adore about Patek Philippe is its love of the handcrafted arts and the perpetuation of them in highly aesthetic ways.
In 2013, the introduction of the Sky Moon Tourbillon Reference 6002G – which you can read about in detail here – saw this most traditional of Genevan brands bringing a few of these arts back into the limelight: champlevé and cloisonné enamel as evidenced by Reference 6002G’s deliciously complicated blue dial (as the visible result of the delightfully complicated mechanics) and the elaborate engraving on the solid white gold case.
Reference 5160 Perpetual Calendar
Another complicated Patek Philippe timepiece also received similar attention from one of these handcrafted arts in 2013, a timepiece I find to have been spectacularly overlooked, though admittedly that is easy to do among the vast collection of fine timepieces that this brand offers. I’m talking about the complicated Reference 5160, which contains an ultra-tidy perpetual calendar that leaves the opaline dial looking uncluttered, clear in its message, and allowing the observer the chance to glimpse the desired information quickly.
In fact, this orderly dial also leaves room for the intricate hand-engraving in the center that matches the floral pattern of the case engraving. The interesting retrograde date encircles this section, interspersed with apertures for the day, date and leap year cycle. The Roman numerals underscoring the very classic look of this piece are also noteworthy as the lion’s share of this brand’s dials are dominated by markers or Arabic-style numerals (provocatively found on the date scale here, thus introducing a second typeface and enhancing legibility), providing a clean, clear look.
Coming back to the floral case engraving, this pattern had certainly not been chosen randomly, neither for Reference 5160 nor for the most recent version of the Sky Moon Tourbillon. In fact, this pattern is highly reminiscent of that found on what is affectionately known by enthusiasts of the brand and horological history as “the Packard.” Sold to American industrialist James Ward Packard, practically the only adornment this sober, complicated pocket watch – the most complicated timepiece in the world at the time of its completion in 1927 – offered was the floral engraving on its 18-karat gold case and the granulation on its bow. In my experience, this minimalist, classy embellishment has often been utilized by the maison used to signify something important, yes, even understatedly spectacular. And, no, it’s not going to be everyone’s cup of tea, but it is mine.
As a final statement pointing to its roots – as if they could be misconstrued – this breathtaking wristwatch is outfitted with a hinged officer’s case back also engraved with a floral pattern encircling the brand’s signature Calatrava cross that can be opened to reveal a sapphire crystal case back. As always, every detail is perfect, right down to the hand-engraved folding clasp.
Case: 38 mm rose gold, hand-engraved, officer’s case back (also engraved) revealing sapphire crystal case back
Movement: automatic Caliber 324 S QR
Functions: Hours, minutes, sweep seconds; perpetual calendar with retrograde date hand, day, month and leap year displays; moon phases
For more more information on these timepieces and others, please visit www.patek.com