Press release - Patek Philippe Geneva - April 2008
Patek Philippe World Time watch Ref. 5131
The watch as a work of art
At this year’s Baselworld, Patek Philippe is unveiling the World Time watch Ref. 5131. It is a debut that will charm many people for many different reasons.
Its mechanism for the permanent display of all 24 time zones and its amazingly fast adjustability to any local time, constitute a technical coup that will
appeal to everyone who admires useful complications. In turn, its cloisonné enamel dial will delight connoisseurs of the art of enamelling. Finally, watch
collectors will be pleased to see this particular type of timepiece – at international auctions, its predecessors meanwhile fetch astronomical prices – back
in the Geneva workshops’ standard collection.
24 time zones with a glance at the wrist
Patek Philippe’s multiple time zone watches belong to the category of so-called useful complications. They serve their owners well with practical
functions of relevance in contemporary everyday life. A World Time watch indicates the hour in all major cities at a glance. The local time indicated
by the hour and minute hands applies to the location on the city disk that is directly aligned with 12 o’clock. The crown is used to set the correct
time in conjunction with the 24-hour ring, so a distinction can be made between 4 am and 4 pm. Now, switching from one time zone to another
is accomplished simply by pressing the button at 10 o’clock. Every time it is pressed, the hour hand will advance by one hour while the city ring
and the 24-hour ring will rotate counterclockwise by one hour (equivalent to one time zone). Pressing the button 24 times emulates a trip around
the world and a return to the point of departure.
This mechanism was devised by the gifted Geneva watchmaker Louis Cottier in the early 1930s. He offered his invention to Patek Philippe first
and in 1959, the company protected it with Swiss Patent No. 340 191. Subsequently, the ingenious inventor created another mechanism for
the Genevabased manufacture. It was able to display two time zones simultaneously. In the late 1990s, this second invention inspired the development
of the Calatrava Travel Time. With a solution patented in 1999, Patek Philippe further optimized the caliber 240 HU (Heure Universelle = World Time)
movement by totally isolating the World Time mechanism with the city and 24-hour rings from the going train of the watch. Thus, when the mechanism
is switched from one time zone to the next, the accuracy of the movement and the progression of the minute hand are not affected.
Caliber 240 HU is an ultra-thin self-winding mechanical movement that features a 22K gold mini-rotor recessed in the plate. It beats with a
frequency of 21,600 semi-oscillations per hour (3 Hz). In 2000, Patek Philippe used this movement to reintroduce the World Time watch into
its standard collection; it proved to be an instant bestseller.
Watches for connoisseurs and collectors
The exclusivity of these complications is no doubt the principal reason why Patek Philippe’s 1940s and 1950s World Time watches fetch higher
prices at international auctions than any other wristwatches. Bids in the magnitude of several hundred thousand Swiss francs are now the rule,
but the record today is still held by an early platinum model that changed hands in 2002 for the fantastic sum of 6.6 million francs (in excess of US$6 million).
Models showcasing a small, hand-made cloisonné enamel miniature in the center of the dial are particularly coveted. The eclectic motifs range
from clusters of palm trees to solitary lighthouses, but the most popular ones are colorful, stylized world maps because they best match the
purpose of the timepiece. Such a map also adorns the dial of the new Patek Philippe Ref. 5131, finally giving collectors the renewed opportunity
to find a watch in this category within the company's current portfolio.
Due to the complex processes involved in the making of cloisonné enamel dials, only a small number of Ref. 5131 watches will be available each year.
The art of cloisonné enamelling
In addition to Geneva enamel and champlevé enamel, cloisonné enamel is one of the three classic techniques traditionally used to decorate
watches and dials. The motifs are always silhouettes whose contours define the shapes of the “cloisons” (French for partition, or cell) that
ultimately contain the differently colored zones of the finished enamel opus. A characteristic shared by all enamelling techniques is
the stunning brilliance of the colors: unlike paintings that use conventional pigments, they do not fade and retain their luster for centuries.
A cloisonné enamel piece begins as a wafer of copper or gold into which the contours of the motif are scored by hand. Subsequently, the lines
are retraced with very thin, flattened gold wire. Like a dainty ribbon standing on its edge, the wire is bent with tweezers to follow the contours
and then secured in a first firing; eventually, the entire drawing is composed of a number of cloisons which now need to be filled with the enamel mass.
Enamel consists of finely crushed glass ground to powder. The addition admixture of various metal oxides produces the colors when the glass is melted.
After the powder has been filled into the cloisons, the work of art can be fired in a special furnace at temperatures between 850 and 900°C.
To prevent distortion, the reverse side of the wafer must also be coated with a layer of enamel, the so-called: “contre-email”.
Because the metal oxides added to the powder can change their color at different temperatures, enamel work can involve numerous firings passes.
The end result is a colorfully arrayed glass motif from which the gold wires forming the cells protrude. These wires are then polished down to the
level of the glass layers, and in the final phase, the entire work of art is protected by the fondant, a colorless, highly transparent layer of enamel
applied in a last firing process. At the end of every firing pass, the enamel miniature must be allowed to slowly cool to room temperature in a
precisely controlled manner. Otherwise, thermal stresses could cause the hard, fused glass to crack.
Thus, The art of cloisonné enameling not only requires virtuosity and a highly developed sense of aesthetics. The artisans who master it must
also be fully aware of the technical, physical, and chemical processes involved in preparing, mixing, applying, and firing the enamel mass.
Until the early 20th century, cloisonné enameling, champlevé enameling, and miniature painting according to the acclaimed Geneva enameling
traditions were precious skills needed to embellish watches and other luxury objects. Elsewhere, the tradition sank into oblivion, but Patek Philippe
never stopped crafting beautifully decorated enameled wristwatches, pocket watches, and table clocks featuring lavish decorations based on
venerable enameling techniques. After all, an art must be preserved in order to ensure a successful future.
For further information, please contact:
Patek Philippe Geneva
International Public Relations Dpt.
P.O. Box 2654
1211 Geneva 2
Tel.: +41 22 884 20 20
Fax: +41 22 884 25 47
World Time watch – Ref. 5131 in 18K yellow gold
Movement: Caliber 240 HU
Self-winding mechanical movement, display of 24 time zones,
Diameter: 27.50 mm
Height: 3.88 mm
Number of parts: 239
Number of jewels: 33
Power reserve: Max. 48 hours
Winding rotor: Mini-rotor in 22K gold, unidirectional winding
Frequency: 21,600 semi-oscillations/hour (3 Hz)
Balance spring: Flat
Balance spring stud: Movable
Functions: Two-position crown:
- Pulled out: to set the time
- Pushed in: to wind the watch
Time zone correction
button at 10 o’clock: Synchronized clockwise advance of the hour hand in one-hour
increments and counterclockwise rotation of the city and 24-hour
disks in 15° increments. This correction takes place without
affecting the rate of the movement or the progression of the minute
hand (Patent No. 99124527.5 dated December 9, 1999).
Displays: Hours and minutes
24-hour disk with day/night indication by color and sun/moon
Hallmark: Geneva Seal
Case: 18K yellow gold with engraved Patek Philippe signature at 12
o'clock and Genève at 6 o'clock
Screwed back in 18K yellow gold with sapphire-crystal window
Water-resistant to 30 meters
Dimensions: Diameter: 39.50 mm
Height: 10.61 mm
Width between lugs: 21 mm
Dial: 18K yellow gold, center of dial with world map in hand-crafted
- Black printed city disk with new italic face
- 24-hour disk with day/night indication by color and sun/moon
symbols (blue day numerals on silvery background, white night
numerals on blue background)
Hands Ring-shaped hour hand in 18K yellow gold
Dauphine minute hand in 18K yellow gold
Strap: Alligator with rectangular scales, hand-stitched, matt chocolate,
fold-over clasp in 18K yellow gold
Patek Philippe Press Release - April 2008 BASELWORLD 2008
5131G-001 - WorldTimer
The World Time watch, one of Patek Philippe's emblematic complications, is particularly coveted by collectors
as are the famous and rare 1940s and 1950s models. This exclusive timepiece in white gold stands out with
a hand-made “Europe/Asia” cloisonné enamel dial, joining the original 2008 model in yellow gold with a “Europe/USA” dial.
* Caliber 240 HU
* Mechanical self-winding movement
* Indication of 24 time zones
* "Europe/Asia" dial center in cloisonné enamel
* Fold-over clasp
* Sapphire-crystal case back
* Water resistant to 30 m
* Case diameter: 39.5 mm
* White gold
* Indication of 24 time zones
* Overall diameter: 27.5 mm
* Height: 3.88 mm
* 33 jewels, 8 bridges
* Balance: Gyromax
* Vibrations per hour: 21'600
* Power reserve: 48h max
* Number of parts: 239
* Patent CH 690205
Source: Patek Philippe S.A