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REVIEW: Patek Philippe Annual Calender Ref. 5146>>>>>>>

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Published on 01-14-2010 10:52 AM

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Review of the Patek Philippe Annual Calender Ref. 5146
By: John B. Holbrook, II

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Few monikers in the luxury watch segment command as much awe and respect as the name Patek Philippe. The company began in 1839 when Antoine Norbert de Patek and François Czapek, both Polish immigrants living in Geneva, started Patek, Czapek & Cie. Five years later, Patek met the French watchmaker Jean Adrien Philippe in Paris where the latter presented his pioneering stem winding and setting system. By 1845, the original partnership was dissolved when Czapek struck out on his own, and the company name changed to Patek & Cie. It wasn’t until 1851 when Philippe became officially associated with the company that the name changed to Patek Philippe & Cie. Fast forward to 1932 — Patek Philippe & Cie, SA is purchased by brothers Charles and Jean Stern and becomes Patek Philippe SA. To this day, it remains a family-owned business, now with third and fourth generation family members at the helm: Philippe Stern is president, and his son, Thierry Stern, is vice-president. Knowing its illustrious history and grand tradition in watchmaking, I view the opportunity to review the new Ref. 5146 Annual Calendar the way a concert pianist might view the opportunity to play Carnegie Hall. Pardon me momentarily as I clear my throat.

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The Ref. 5146 Annual Calendar is clearly Patek’s response to the oversize watch trend of recent years. With its predecessor - reference model 5036 being 37mm in diameter, the polished 18 karat yellow gold case of the Ref. 5146 is now 39mm in diameter. While the increase in diameter is just 2mm, 39mm is still a conservative size compared to the serving platter–sized watches currently in vogue. I found the new size to be quite comfortable on the wrist—and easy on the eyes. The larger scale provides more space for the added functions found on the dial. A hand-stitched brown alligator strap rests between the 20mm lugs of the Annual Calendar and is connected with a gorgeous and well constructed case-matching fold over clasp, signed Patek Philippe. The case has a water-resistance rating of 25 meters. The well padded and sumptuous leather strap adds greatly to the overall comfort of the piece. In addition to the two-position crown on the right side of the case (pulled out to set the time, pushed in to wind the watch), corrector buttons for controlling the various complications are recessed into the case at 2, 4, 8 and 10.

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Beneath the scratch-resistant sapphire crystal of the Annual Calendar is an elegant cream-colored dial that is both elegant and rich in intensity—twelve separate steps are required in the lacquering, firing and polishing processes used to create the dial. A combination of yellow gold baton and Arabic numeral markers encircles the dial. The yellow gold hour and minutes hands are coated with Superluminova and are quite legible in all lighting conditions. The gold sweep seconds hand is slightly less visible but coordinates well with the rest of the dial. This particular Patek dial imparts a great deal of information above and beyond the standard three-hand display. Beginning at the top of the dial, a power reserve indicator is found just below 12. Continuing clockwise around the dial, the next register, a month indicator, is located right of center and just left of 3. At 6, the dial features a standard date indicator with the moon phase indicator positioned just above it. Finally, the day of the week indicator is located just left of center and to the right of 9.

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Turning to the back of the case, we find the sumptuously decorated Patek Philippe Caliber 315 S IRM QA LU, visible beneath the sapphire crystal display back. The caliber is manufactured in-house by Patek Philippe and is replete with the brand’s legendary finishing and decoration work, complete with the Geneva Seal hallmark. Caliber 315 S IRM QA LU is a self-winding mechanical movement comprising 355 indi-vidual parts, 36 jewels and a Gyromax balance wheel, which oscillates at 21,600 beats per hour. The unidirectional central winding rotor is constructed entirely of 21 karat gold and bears Patek’s famous Calatrava Cross emblem. As impressive as the decoration work of this movement is, this caliber is also a strong per¬former, adjusted in five positions and in vari¬ous temperatures for accuracy.

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The Patek Philippe Annual Calendar Ref. 5146 is a classic men’s dress watch. Its complcations are sensible and pragmatic—nothing so extravagant or extraordinary as to place it in the category of watches that are not meant to be worn. This watch is designed to be a “daily driver,” a watch that can be worn for a lifetime and passed down through the generations. Ref. 5146’s sensible mechanical complications translate to a sensible price point. At $34,800.00 US, the piece is remarkably affordable for a luxury timepiece from a manufacturer who arguably defines the segment. I also applaud Patek for its approach to the styling of the new Annual Calendar; current fashion trends be darned, a men’s dress watch should never exceed 40mm. The increased size of the piece adds to the usability and reflects contemporary trends without sacrificing long¬standing tradition and common sense. Long live the Calatrava Cross and the company it represents—Patek Philippe.

**Photos & Text Copyright 2010 WATCH TALK FORUMS. No part of this report can be reproduced outside of WATCH TALK FORUMS without the expressed permission of John B. Holbrook, II.

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REVIEW: Patek Philippe Annual Calender Ref. 5146>>>>>>>
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