There’s no doubt that one of the most anticipated launches at BaselWorld come from Patek Philippe and seirous connoisseurs the world over watch with bated breath to see what this most haute of haute de gamme manufacturers will show. There is a certain dignity in the way in which Patek Philippe generally avoids the presentation of “novelties,” that are merely that –that is to say, watches that are introduced largely for their ability to generate buzz but which often do not retain their ability to hold one’s interest after the first “wow” begins to fade.
While some have complained that this year’s new models from Patek are “merely” incremental, we think there’s a lot to be said for incremental, frankly. Which would you rather have, a carefully considered evolution of an iconic product that yields something that will look as good or better in decades to come as it does now, or something produced just to generate novelty? No prizes for guessing what we think.
In that spirit, we present to you some live pics from our meeting earlier this week with Patek Philippe.
First off the block: a new Calatrava, ref. 5227, fitted with an “Officer’s Caseback” but in this case, a new version designed to be part of a slim and sleek case that gives little sign when it’s closed that the caseback can be opened to reveal the (as always) lovely movement.
The Nautilus chronograph is now available in quite an interesting new iteration as well: two-tone steel and rose gold. While the tendency in some quarters is to see such a combination as an attempt to create a poor man’s gold watch (which is probably exactly what it is, from some manufacturers) in this case we suspect that if you can pony up for a Nautilus at all, the cost of going all gold would not be much of a deterrent. Thus (especially in rose gold) the choice of such a combination becomes a matter of style, not budget.
And the blue dial is a knockout.
Another deliciously stylish new piece is of course the new 8 day Gondolo ref. 5200, with an eight day power reserve made possible in part by its silicon lever and escape wheel, whose low inertia/low friction properties help supply the efficiency in energy transmission necessary for such a long running time. Inspired by the 10 day tourbillon, it is however very much its own watch, and features an instantaneous jumping calendar with a window for the day of the week, and a hand in the seconds subdial for the date.
Next we present the ref. 5170 chronograph, which dresses up for 2013 with a new white dial and Arabic numerals. And of course the view through the back is as lovely as ever . . .
The ref. 5396 on a limpidly flexible bracelet . . .
One of the highlights at the Patek Philippe stand is a room at the back of the reception area, hidden from prying outsider eyes by the spiral staircase that anchors the reception room. It’s worth making your way back there though because that’s where Patek shows off some of its most wonderful and least known work –each year it presents a series of enamel decorated table clocks and enamel decorated wrist and pocket watches.
All beautiful examples of the painstaking art of decorative enameling so strongly identified with the Genevan watchmaking tradition. We especially loved this last –a unique piece, “The Dreamers” dome clock, after a work by the famous Czech Art Nouveau era artist Alfonse Mucha.