Patek Philippe

Ad­vanced Re­search

Esquire (Singapore) - - Contents -

Think Patek Philippe and in­evitably images of clas­si­cal, very tra­di­tional time­pieces come to mind—and you would not be wrong. That is the quin­tes­sen­tial ap­peal of the time-hon­oured Genevan man­u­fac­ture and will con­tinue to be for gen­er­a­tions to come. But the truth is, Patek Philippe is a mar­ket leader in cut­ting-edge re­search and de­vel­op­ment. It is one of the first watch com­pa­nies to em­brace in its move­ments sil­i­con which is a ma­te­rial that oth­ers have re­jected as be­ing un­tra­di­tional.

Form­ing a con­sor­tium with Rolex and Swatch Group, Patek Philippe in­vested in the de­vel­op­ment at the Swiss Cen­ter For Elec­tron­ics and Mi­crotech­nol­ogy (CSEM) of monocrys­talline sil­i­con in 2002. Sup­ported by the Neucha­tel In­sti­tute of Mi­cro­engi­neer­ing and the Swiss Fed­eral In­sti­tute of Tech­nol­ogy, they were the first brands in the world to sink their teeth into sil­i­con as a vi­able watch­mak­ing ma­te­rial, paving the way for oth­ers to fol­low.

This led the man­u­fac­ture to es­tab­lish a new de­part­ment ded­i­cated to find­ing modern so­lu­tions to age-old prob­lems— inas­much as me­chan­i­cal watch­mak­ing has been in ex­is­tence for cen­turies, it is not without prob­lems. The use of sil­i­con com­po­nents solved sev­eral of them. This de­part­ment, named Ad­vanced Re­search, worked steadily to demon­strate the ben­e­fits of the ma­te­rial in con­ven­tional watch­mak­ing. That is to say, the core ge­om­e­try of the com­po­nents re­mained the same, only the ma­te­rial used to make them had changed.

The Patek Philippe Ad­vanced Re­search divi­sion has pro­duced five watches so far, the lat­est of which was Ad­vanced Re­search Aqua­naut Travel Time Ref 5650G in­tro­duced at Basel­world 2017. Of all the watches to emerge from this de­part­ment, this model proved to be the most rad­i­cal one in terms of de­sign, the tech­nique it pre­miered and the area of watch­mak­ing it fo­cused on.

For starters, Ref 5650 is the first Ad­vanced Re­search model that comes in the Aqua­naut case. And that’s not all. It’s the first Patek Philippe watch to have a semi-ex­posed dial for some­thing other than the tour­bil­lon. An ir­reg­u­lar shaped aper­ture show­cases a unique com­po­nent fab­ri­cated us­ing ul­tra-high pre­ci­sion man­u­fac­tur­ing pro­cesses that con­trols the sec­ond time zone func­tion. Called Com­pli­ant Mech­a­nism, it re­duced the num­ber of com­po­nents needed to move the sec­ond hour hand for­wards or back­wards. The stan­dard travel time mech­a­nism uses 37 in­di­vid­ual com­po­nents but here there is only 12.

Made of stan­dard in­dus­try steel, which means it can be fin­ished just like the move­ment plates and bridges, Com­pli­ant Mech­a­nism uses nei­ther gear wheels nor piv­ots but rather a pair of leaf springs that cross each other with a gap of merely 150 mi­crons. These leaf springs flex and re­lax when­ever the but­tons are pushed so there is no fric­tion, and hence the parts do not re­quire oil­ing. This erad­i­cates one of the big­gest headaches of me­chan­i­cal watch­mak­ing.

Next, Ref 5650 also de­buted a new and im­proved Spiro­max bal­ance spring made with Sil­in­var, a sil­i­con al­loy pro­pri­etary to Patek Philippe. What’s new and amaz­ing about this bal­ance spring is its shape which broad­ens at its two ex­trem­i­ties for im­proved chronom­e­try and reg­u­lar­ity. With it, Ref 5650 is ac­cu­rate to -1/+2 sec­onds per day and that is way su­pe­rior to the COSC stan­dard of -4/+6 sec­onds per day.

As a fi­nal flour­ish, this Ad­vanced Re­search model is pow­ered with the much cel­e­brated Cal­i­bre 240 mi­cro-ro­tor move­ment.

2008: Ad­vanced Re­search An­nual Cal­en­dar Ref 5450 As the move­ment’s reg­u­lat­ingde­vice was of ut­most im­por­tance to its over­all time­keep­ing abil­ity, Patek Philippe’s work would not be com­plete without over­haul­ing the bal­ance wheel. And so it did with the Ref 5450, againan an­nual cal­en­dar based on Cal­i­bre 324, pre­mier­ing a new Gy­ro­max bal­ance wheel in ad­di­tion to the Spiro­max bal­ance plus a new Pul­so­max es­cape­ment. With im­proved ge­om­e­try to the es­cape wheel and the lever, the Pul­so­max es­cape­ment was 15 per­centmore en­ergy ef­fi­cient. Its gor­geous salmon pink dial alsode­serves spe­cial men­tion.

2011: Ad­vanced Re­search Per­pet­ual Cal­en­dar Ref 5550It took Patek Philippe three years to come up with the next Ad­vanced Re­search pro­ject, Ref 5550, which brought forth a com­pletely new com­po­nent to hon­our the 60th an­niver­saryof the orig­i­nal Gy­ro­max bal­ance. Called Gy­ro­maxSi,it has a Sil­in­var es­sen­tial struc­ture com­pleted by two 24-carat gold weights with four pois­ing screws on the out­er­most rim. This, along with the Sil­in­var bal­ance spring and Pul­so­max es­cape­ment, formed what Patek Philippe terms theOs­cil­lo­max unit.

2005: Ad­vanced Re­search An­nual Cal­en­dar Ref 5250The first model in the Ad­vanced Re­search se­ries, thispiece in­tro­duced Sil­in­var as in Patek Philippe’s own words, the fab­ric of the fu­ture. Sil­in­var is a con­trac­tion of two words: sil­i­con and in­vari­able. Used to fab­ri­cate the move­ment es­cape wheel, it is lighter than steel and re­quires no oil­ing thanks to its ul­tra hard sur­face. Its sur­faces are also ex­tra smooth, so no fric­tion is caused when the pal­let fork en­gages its teeth, hence no pal­let stones are re­quired.

2006: Ad­vanced Re­search An­nual Cal­en­dar Ref 5350 Ref 5350 is also an an­nual cal­en­dar but this time based on the Cal­i­bre 324. The ear­lier model was made with Cal­i­bre 315. In ad­di­tion to an es­cape wheel made of sil­i­con al­loy Sil­in­var, it has a bal­ance springmade of the same ma­te­rial and us­ing the same pro­cesses. Named the Spiro­max bal­ancespring, it was per­fectly con­cen­tric; it re­placed the tra­di­tional Breguet over­coil with the Patek Philippeter­mi­nal curve.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Singapore

© PressReader. All rights reserved.