Vintage Leanings

“The Past Is Analog.”

Patek Philippe introduces a Perpetual Calendar that reawakens vintage leanings.

Looking at the new perpetual Calendar from Patek Philippe, you might think you had mistakenly taken out an old watch from your collection instead. The Patek Philippe 5320G is a new release, but there are definitely things in it from days gone by.  The dial array, the watch lugs, the slightly-faded-colored cream dial… to look at the watch is to see the pieces that have come before it.

You can see echoes of a dozen different specific watches in the 5320G, going all the way back to their very first Perpetual Calendar in 1915.

The First Wristwatch with Perpetual Calendar bearing the serial number 97975

The new Perpetual Calendar is almost a wish list of elements that Patek Philippe collectors would have begged for. The dial layout of the Ref. 5320G is much the same as Patek Philippe has used for their other Perpetual Calendars, such as the Ref. 1518 which had a chronograph, and the Ref. 1526 which didn’t. And there are also touches from the Ref. 2497 and Ref. 2438, two other perpetual calendars from the 1950s. The watch hands are baton-shaped and filled with Superluminova, similar to the hands of the Ref. 1463 chronograph from the 1950s. Even the watch lugs have a provenance: the three-tiered watch lugs are reminiscent of the silhouette of the Ref. 2405, which also came out in the 1950s.

“It’s almost as if the watch is an old soul in a new body, a timepiece that remembers past lives.”

But it’s possible that the most direct influence for the new 5320G is the steel-cased Ref. 1591, a singular watch that now resides in the Patek Philippe museum. That watch was auctioned by Christie’s back in 2007, and finally sold for a price of more than two million US dollars.

The watch case is a modern 40mm; all the vintage touches may make that a bit of a surprise, like the watch should be sized at 36mm, but the fact remains that the 5320G is a modern watch and the case was sized for current preferences.  Influences from the past may abound, but the Patek Philippe Perpetual Calendar 5320G is set distinctly in the modern world. It’s almost as if the watch is an old soul in a new body, a timepiece that remembers past lives.

“Well, if you’re going to have a role model, pick a nice one.”

So in the end, what is the Ref. 5320G going to be? Is it just a nostalgia trip? Is it a collection of wonderful, in-demand elements that admittedly work together very well?

Is there a soul to this new machine?

The answer, I believe, is yes. The watch is a collection of influences, a list of things that worked. I believe that the watch is born of experience. It’s several generations of lessons learned. You take the parts that work, the ones that made you feel most successful, that most matched your inner vision, and you keep those. You try to incorporate them into the next thing you do. You try, and you sometimes fail, but you learn, and you keep what you learned.

So you can learn about the 5320G, delve into its history, but don’t forget to see it for the beauty that it is. The watch will reward your quest for knowledge, but it will also charm you all by itself, history notwithstanding.