Patek Philippe is known as Switzerland's greatest watchmaker for a reason. Year after year, it continues to amaze with the beauty and mastery of its timepieces. Get ready for a real treat as we discover what the company brought to Baselworld 2019.
With Rolex failing to make any completely explosive announcements this year, there has been a little more room to explore some of Baselworld's many other superb offerings. And there is nothing more superb at Baselworld than Patek Philippe. Here we take a look at the best it had to show in 2019.
5078G Minute Repeater Enamel
The naming conventions at Patek Philippe are arcane even by watch industry standards. The 5078G-001 is a glorious automatic minute repeater that Patek has made for many years. But the 5078G-010 is a brand new version that's almost unrecognisable. The mechanism is the same, but now the watch comes with a spectacular métier d'art enamel dial featuring an arabesque pattern in shades of black. Despite this artisanal feat, the look remains understated, with little to suggest the complexity within the small 38mm case. If you're not already captivated, just wait until you hear its melodic chime.
The new chrono on the block is the manual-wind 5172G, a head-turning timepiece that once again demonstrates why Patek is the king of the chronograph castle. It's also a good example of the company's loveably erratic approach to watch development. Where Rolex makes tiny changes at a glacial pace, Patek will gladly release new timepieces that drastically differ from predecessors. In this case, the watch replaces the comparatively mundane 5170 series, but adds a bevy of new elements, from the blue dial to the large Arabic numerals and the truly delightful stepped lugs for a fun, vintage feel.
5168G Khaki Aquanaut
The 5168G was first released in 2017 for the twentieth anniversary of the Aquanaut, with an appropriately blue dial. Two years later, the same reference is back in a bold new "khaki" green colour that is much less appropriate but potentially much more desirable. You might have thought that Patek would return this colour to the traditional 40mm Aquanaut ref 5167, where it first created its legend. But no, this is the "jumbo" version, with serious presence at 42.2mm. It's also a white gold watch, which is a surprising fit for a macho army-style green sports watch. It's the type of thing that only Patek would think of or get away with, and we love them for it. We expect this watch to make many uber-fans very happy.
7118 Ladies Nautilus
Patek never does anything by halves, and that goes for ladies' watches as much as gents'. The superlative ref 7118 has received new updates this year, adding excellent options to an already beloved timepiece. While the watch was previously available either in steel or rose gold with diamond-set bezel, now the set is completed, with new variants in regular rose gold, and others in steel with diamonds. Hurray for options! Of course, the 7118 is a controversial timepiece thanks to its 12 numeral and wavy patterns, which some say Patek adds purely to prove that this is a watch for women - when many women may well prefer the simpler straight lines of the men's version.
5235R Regulator AC Rose Gold
This one is a relatively cosmetic update, but what an update it is. The first watch, ref 5235G, was unveiled in 2012 and it was so revolutionary that Patek struggled to even produce it and it was impossible to buy for quite a while. The movement featured eye-popping new inventions with names like Pulsomax, Spiromax and Gyromax. The result was the first-ever Patek regulator watch (ie, a watch with the hours, minutes and seconds displayed separately). Of course, being Patek, they casually incorporated an annual calendar too. Now, the 5235 has a new look in gold and black, and the original version in silver and blue has been discontinued. Don't ask us why.
5520P Alarm Travel Time
In contrast, this watch stays true to the aesthetics of its precursor (the 5524G), but transforms the mechanics. The 5520P boasts beautiful vintage hands and numerals in quite the same style as 2015's 5524G. But it runs on a brand new movement, the AL 30-660 S C FUS, which introduces an ingenious and difficult new complication - a 24-hour alarm with a digital display - to an already ingenious and difficult travel watch with AM/PM indicators for both home and local time. Now in platinum with four crowns instead of three, this is the kind of grand complication mastery that only Patek can fathom. Yours for just 200,000 CHF.
5212A Calatrava Weekly Calendar
Okay, so there isn't room to discuss the insane new Grandmaster Chime in this article, but even if there was, we would still pick 5212A as the stand-out highlight of Patek's 2019 Baselworld. This timepiece from the Calatrava collection is a really unusual treat in its delightful novelty. First of all, there's the calendar complication, indicating not just months but weeks of the year - an entirely new display for Patek. Then there's the case, which is inspired by models such as the 5320 and the 5975, but is also entirely new. Finally there's the dial - again, utterly new. It might look plain at first sight, but the vintage simplicity of the concentric circles really grows on you. Its true joy lies in the handwritten font, giving a quirky edge to what could have been an overly complex watch.
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