WRIT­ING HIS­TORY

The Patek Philippe Cala­trava Weekly Cal­en­dar Ref 5212A gives a new di­men­sion to the term “hand-fin­ish­ing”

Singapore Tatler Jewels & Time - - CONTENTS - Text Nicolette Wong

Patek Philippe raises the bar for hand-fin­ish­ing

Watch­mak­ing, as many will tell you, is an art

—an ex­tremely pre­cise form of craft. For the premier watch­mak­ing brands of the world, ev­ery part of each cre­ation that leaves the work­shop counts—from the case to the bezel and dial, right down to ev­ery bev­elled an­gle and screw. This pur­suit of per­fec­tion is what drives many watch­mak­ing brands, in­clud­ing, of course, Patek Philippe. And it is this same pur­suit of per­fec­tion that makes the design of the new Cala­trava Weekly Cal­en­dar Ref 5212A-001 so sur­pris­ing.

Patek Philippe’s ex­per­tise with cal­en­dar watches is in­dis­putable. Not only are its per­pet­ual cal­en­dars highly sought-af­ter, the brand is also re­spon­si­ble for cre­at­ing the world’s first an­nual cal­en­dar com­pli­ca­tion in 1996. As such, the weekly cal­en­dar com­pli­ca­tion feels per­fectly at home among its fel­low time­keep­ing brethren. The func­tion of a weekly cal­en­dar com­pli­ca­tion is sim­ple—it indicates the cur­rent week of the year. While the vast ma­jor­ity of the world keeps track of time in a year by months, some Euro­pean and Asian coun­tries com­monly use weeks to keep time for busi­ness pur­poses. Given that cal­en­dars on smart­phones usu­ally do not dis­play the week of the year, this can ac­tu­ally be quite a use­ful com­pli­ca­tion for some.

The Ref 5212A-001 indicates the week using what

Patek Philippe calls a ham­mer-shaped hand, with the head of the “ham­mer” coloured red for added leg­i­bil­ity and aes­thetic en­hance­ment. When cre­at­ing the watch, Patek Philippe used the ISO 8601 stan­dard, an in­ter­na­tional guide­line that ap­plies to rep­re­sen­ta­tions and for­mats of dates in the Gre­go­rian cal­en­dar—the one most com­monly used around the world. Un­der the ISO 8601, all weeks be­gin on a Mon­day and the first week of the year is the one in which Jan­uary 4 oc­curs. And while we all know that a year con­tains 52 weeks, the ea­gle-eyed watch buff will no­tice that the in­di­ca­tions on the Ref 5212A-001 go up to 53 weeks. It is true that some years do in­deed have 53 weeks—if the year starts on or af­ter a Thurs­day, or if it is a leap year starting on or af­ter a Wed­nes­day. The next 53-week year will be the year 2020, which means the new weekly cal­en­dar comes well in time for its ar­rival.

The Ref 5212A-001 has a com­pletely new self-wind­ing movement, the cal­i­bre 26-330 S C J SE, which is based on the clas­sic cal­i­bre 324 that sits within many of Patek Philippe’s other cal­en­dar watches. The new cal­i­bre has a new semi-in­te­grated mech­a­nism for the weekly cal­en­dar func­tion. In ad­di­tion to the week, date, and day in­di­ca­tion func­tions, the movement also has a stop sec­onds mech­a­nism that al­lows for greater pre­ci­sion when the crown is pulled out for time-set­ting, as well as an im­proved self-wind­ing mech­a­nism.

The most in­ter­est­ing part of the Ref 5212A-001, how­ever, is its design. Ac­cord­ing to some re­ports, it was in­spired by a one-of-a-kind ex­tra large his­tor­i­cal ref­er­ence from 1955,

the Ref. 2512/1, which went un­der the ham­mer at Sotheby’s for US$962,500 in 2012. Per­haps, it is not mere co­in­ci­dence that the ref­er­ence name of the new watch is an ana­gram of the Ref. 2512. There are subtle design parallels be­tween the two, though limited mostly to the case—both ref­er­ences have two-tiered lugs and a two-tiered case, as well as a boxed sap­phire crys­tal. Un­like the yel­low gold Ref 2512/1, how­ever, the case of the Ref 5212A-001 is made from stain­less steel—it is the only Cala­trava in Patek Philippe’s reg­u­lar col­lec­tion to be made in steel. The ma­te­rial is typ­i­cally re­served for sporty Nau­tiluses and limited edi­tions.

All of the afore­men­tioned el­e­ments have been crafted and en­gi­neered to per­fec­tion—or as close to per­fec­tion as hu­man hands can ac­com­plish. With hand­i­work, ev­ery piece is unique and that is what makes the Weekly Cal­en­dar Ref 5212A-001 so spe­cial. And you can see it on the first look at the watch. Each of the let­ters and num­bers on the dial (aside from the usual Patek Philippe Geneva logo, the Swiss-made brand­ing and the date aper­ture) is writ­ten by hand—the hand of a de­signer in the man­u­fac­ture, to be more pre­cise though Patek Philippe has kept the name of the said de­signer a secret.

The hand­writ­ten nu­mer­als and let­ters add a touch of quirk­i­ness that has never quite been seen be­fore in Patek Philippe’s watches—this is the first time it has ever used hand-let­ter­ing in its dial design. Un­like ty­pog­ra­phy, each hand­writ­ten let­ter and num­ber is just slightly dif­fer­ent. The im­per­fec­tion of the writ­ing, how­ever, is what makes the Ref 5212A-001 so un­usual—it presents a touch of whimsy that is very rare in Patek Philippe’s oeu­vre.

Per­haps this is the watch­maker’s at­tempt to in­tro­duce an element of in­for­mal­ity in its round dress watches, in a way that is dif­fer­ent from that con­veyed by the sporti­ness of the Nau­tilus or Aqua­naut. More im­por­tantly, it serves as an in­di­ca­tion of how it is cre­ated by the skilled hands of its artisans, who put their heart and soul into its mak­ing—the very qual­ity that makes it truly one-of-a-kind.

IN THE DE­TAILS The hand­writ­ten num­bers and let­ter­ings on the dial of the Patek Philippe Cala­trava Weekly Cal­en­dar Ref 5212A-001 are by one par­tic­u­lar de­signer in the man­u­fac­ture, whose iden­tity has been kept secret

STAND OUT The Patek Philippe Cala­trava Weekly Cal­en­dar Ref 5212A-001 is a rare Cala­trava with a twist—it is the only stain­less steel watch in the col­lec­tion; the brand-new cal­i­bre 26-330 S C J SE. Op­po­site: Hand work is a ma­jor as­pect of Patek’s creations but the Ref 5212A-001 takes it an­other level up

IN THE DE­TAILS The side pro­file of the Patek Philippe Cala­trava Weekly Cal­en­dar Ref 5212A-001 re­veals a two-tiered case and two-tiered lugs; a closer look at the dial and the nu­mer­als on the date ring on cal­i­bre 26-330 S C J SE re­veals hand­writ­ten let­ters and num­bers

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