Stop the clocks! Patek Philippe returns to its roots with three new chronographs

Timothy Barber

1 December 2021

After the launch of Aquanaut and Nautilus models earlier in the year, Patek Philippe returns to the business of highly-complicated chronographs – equipped with annual calendar, perpetual calendar and world time functions

The Geneva-based watchmaker recently dropped a trio of watches that combine a chronograph with another high-end complication

1 December 2021 | Timothy Barber

I

t would be a rum thing if, say, Henry Poole & Co became suddenly better known for an off-the-peg sports coat than for the bespoke tailoring that’s been its defining business for two centuries. But that’s the peculiar situation Patek Philippe finds itself in at the minute. The volcanic heat surrounding its stainless steel sports models, the Nautilus and Aquanaut – now going for four or five times RRP on the secondary market – has been somewhat drowning out the key fact that such watches are not really Patek Philippe’s business at all.

As if to remind us of the fact, the Geneva-based watchmaker recently dropped a trio of watches that very definitely are. Classical, complicated and executed to an astounding level of luxury, they’re all chronographs, though each blends that central function with another high-end complication – a traditional Patek Philippe speciality.

Patek Philippe Grand Complications Ref. 5204R-011

At the top of the tree is a new version of a watch that’s truly emblematic of Patek Philippe at the height of its powers: the Ref 5204 split-seconds chronograph and perpetual calendar. In Patek Philippe history, the combination of perpetual calendar and chronograph holds an especially reverential position; but including a far more complex split-seconds chronograph – with two chronograph seconds hands for recording split times – is another thing altogether. The new iteration is in rose gold with a suave slate-grey dial – though owners will be forgiven for spending more time staring in rapture into the knotted complexities of its movement.

£238,620, wempe.com

Patek Philippe World Time Flyback Chronograph Ref. 5930P-001

Next up is the Ref 5930P World Time Flyback Chronograph featuring a more esoteric combo of world timer (time in 24 time zones displayed at once) and flyback chronograph (meaning you can repeatedly restart the chronograph seconds hand as the small minute counter keeps running). The template is actually from a one-off watch dating to 1940, though the 5930 is a truly contemporary showstopper. Previously in white gold, we now get the platinum version, with the guilloche-engraved dial centre rendered in emerald green. Understated this is not; a very major flex to put any Nautilus-sporting whippersnapper in their place it certainly is.

£77,420, wempe.com

Patek Philippe Annual Calendar Chronograph Ref. 5905/1A-001

Patek Philippe does not follow trends, you understand. On the other hand, in the year in which green-dial watches are about as ubiquitous as disposable face masks, Patek releasing two at once (in addition to an Aquanaut and a couple of controversial Nautilus models earlier in the year) is a notable acknowledgement of the market. As is the fact that the second of these, the Ref 5905/1A-001 Annual Calendar Chronograph – with a dial in sumptuous mossy green – is cased in stainless steel, and comes on a rather muscular bracelet.

Packaging a high complication arrangement in a sportier exterior does show a brand moving with the times, and perhaps trying to draw some custom away from the absurd Nautilus/Aquanaut market. After all, would you rather pay £100,000+ for a £27,000 Nautilus, or less than half that for a steel bracelet watch with far greater horological chops? Ah forget it – expect the waiting list for this one to be years long already, and the aftermarket price to headed north fast.

£45,540, wempe.com

Read more: The best new men's watches of 2021

Register your interest in all three watches at Wempe, 43-44 New Bond Street, W1S, wempe.com