Time does not stop

WHILE most of us have lamented the strange passing of time this past year, time doesn’t stop for brands like Patek Philippe. Founded in 1839, the brand has been seen on some of the world’s most famous wrists; in fact, they can lay claim to inventing the first wristwatch in 1868, setting a tiny watch in place of a central jewel on a bracelet owned by Hungary’s Countess Koscowicz. Last week, they launched their new pieces via an online press conference from their new building in Geneva, one they began to occupy last year.

Thierry Stern, President of Patek Philippe, briefly discussed their new working situation during the press conference. They have been in the new building for about a year now, and it now boasts of what he calls a “TV studio,” in order to communicate during these socially distanced times.

“Today I have to speak about Patek, about the watches, from Geneva, through a camera. This is something quite new for us, but I think, like any other brand, we have to adapt,” he said.

Apparently, last year, they had to close down the factory for two months, owing to the pandemic. Still, “Business was not that bad, to be frank.” They used to aim for a target of 60,000 watches annually, but, “Sadly, this year, we close the factory for two months, so of course, we couldn’t achieve the right number that we expected,” he said.

Stil,that did not halt the development of the new watches.

There’s the new Calatrava, first launched in 1932 as the Ref. 96, established in legend as the first to come out of their factories with a reference number. The new Calatrava is slightly bigger at 39mm. Black lacquered Roman numerals on a white background in the 3919 and 5119 models have been replaced by faceted obus markers in 18K gold (with double markers at 12 o’clock). The hands have a resemblance to the original Ref. 96, but have three, instead of two facets. The round bezel is decorated with a guilloched hobnail pattern, thus showcasing an elegant and immediately noticeable texture, and exhibits a slightly wider chamfered profile as well as a thin, polished fillet that frames the box-form sapphire crystal.

Meanwhile, they’ve also launched the Complications 49471A. This one has a painted Annual Calendar that boasts that it only requires one correction per year (as opposed to other calendar watches that need to be wound again during a month that ends in either 30 or 31). It has a self-winding mechanical movement, using the Caliber 324 S QA LLU; displays the day and month with hands, and displays the phases of the moon in a tiny window above the 6 o’clock mark. It’s made of steel with a sapphire crystal caseback, and has a blue dial with gold numerals.

Its grander sister, the Grand Complications 5236P, is made of platinum, and the day, date, and month appear in a large single aperture at 12 o’clock. It also boasts of a perpetual calendar, with a self-winding mechanical movement using the Caliber 31‑260 PS QL. It has an elegant dial with a blue-black gradient with a vertical satin finish, and gold applied hour markers.

One of Patek Philippe’s flagship products, the Nautilus, favored by many celebrities, gets a new look. The Nautilus Haute Joaillerie appears in a new rose gold version, entirely paved with diamonds snow-set on the case, bezel, and bracelet. The diamonds total to about 2,553 brilliant-cut stones. The new Nautilus has luminescent-coated hands, applied hour-markers and Arabic numerals. —  J.L. Garcia