Watches with different calendars are the rightful pride of the Patek Philippe manufactory. No other watch manufacturer in the world can boast of such a variety of model range of complex calendar movements.
Watches with different calendars are the rightful pride of the Patek Philippe manufactory. No other watch manufacturer in the world can boast of such a variety of model range of complex calendar movements. It would seem that with this “arsenal” it is quite possible to allow oneself to relax, but the imagination and skill of the Geneva watchmakers constantly give rise to something new.
Calendars are called hours, which, along with displaying the actual time of day (hours, minutes, seconds), are also capable of showing the full date.
At least this is the number, month and day of the week, and sometimes indicators of the moon phase and leap cycle are added to this set. Clock with a calendar can be roughly divided into four categories – simple calendars, complex or perpetual calendars, annual calendars and calendars with other complications.
“Simple” calendars are programmed to display 31 days in each month and therefore need to be adjusted 5 times a year. The “annual” calendar is able to distinguish between months with 30 and 31 days, but falls short before February and therefore requires adjustment once a year – March 1. Even more perfect is the “perpetual” calendar, the mechanism of which distinguishes the number of days in all months, including leap February.
That’s why, the perpetual calendar does not require adjustment until 2100, when the Gregorian calendar as a whole will need it. Finally, the latter category includes watches with a calendar mechanism and such complications that not only are not inferior to calendars in complexity, but even surpass them: for example, split-chronographs or repeaters. So it would be more correct to say “calendar repeater”, and not vice versa.
Throughout its history, Patek Philippe has produced all kinds of calendar movements, some of which have become significant milestones in the development of watchmaking.The first calendars appeared at Patek Philippe shortly after the formation of the company, back in the middle of the 19th century – naturally, these were pocket watches. They were produced in separate copies, usually at the request of customers or retailers. Until the early 30s of the XX century, Patek Philippe produced no more than 300 of these models. In an exclusive performance, they continue to be produced occasionally to this day.
In 1925, Patek Philippe converted the 1898 perpetual calendar women’s pendant watch into a wristwatch, thus becoming the first wrist calendar of the Geneva manufacture. It turns out that the complex wrist calendar at Patek Philippe appeared earlier than the simple one. The first serial models of the wrist calendars of the Geneva company were Ref. 1518 (perpetual calendar with chronograph) and Ref. 1526 (perpetual calendar), which were produced since 1941.
I must say that in the late 1920s and early 1930s, several simple calendars were made within the walls of the Geneva manufacture.
Patek Philippe experimented with case shapes and calibers, but it never came to mass production.
Simple calendars have not left any significant mark in the history of the Geneva mark. It is curious that on the basis of the legendary first “Calatrava” (Ref. 96) in the 1930s, unique copies of both simple and perpetual calendars were created. Both have become priceless rarities, extremely rare on the market.
A 1938 platinum Calatrava with a simple calendar is kept today at the Patek Philippe Museum in Geneva. A unique perpetual calendar with retrograde date, created in 1937 (Ref. 96), was auctioned in 2002 for almost 1.5 million Swiss francs.
Watches with this complication have long become the “trademark” of the Geneva brand. Patek Philippe has been developing its most famous perpetual calendar, the iconic 3940, for over 40 years. And at the very beginning of this journey, in 1941, the first serial model of the “vechnik” appeared – Ref. 1526, which was produced until 1952. A total of 210 watches of this model were produced, until in 1951 it was replaced by two others – Ref. 2438 and Ref. 2497. The location of the indicators of the first serial “vechnik” is quite traditional: two windows displaying the day of the week and the month were located side by side in the upper part of the dial, and at the 6 o’clock position there was a moon phase indicator combined with a hand date calendar.
The first few examples of this model, released in 1941, had a central second hand, then it also shifted to the lower sub-dial. On this basis, the 1526 model is usually divided into two series, and the first series, with a central second, due to its extreme rarity, is valued by collectors much higher. The watches of the second series, and about 200 of them were produced, have several different modifications of the second scale, which can occupy either an internal position in relation to the date scale, or external, or only the lower one – under the “lunar” window. All 210 watches were made using the 12 ”-120QP caliber.
Before moving on to the production of the following models, Patek Philippe released in 1944 only two copies of the Model 1591, which closely resembles the first model 1526 (with a central second hand) and has the same caliber.
At the same time, some features of the second generation of perpetual calendars are easily recognizable in it, for example, a more massive and larger case due to the increased welt.
Interestingly, with the same caliber (12 ”-120) in 1948, the first sample of the model of the perpetual calendar 2438 was released, then not yet in a waterproof version.
These models are “transitional” from the first to the second generation of Patek Philippe perpetual calendars and show in which direction the creative thought of the company’s specialists was moving.
In 1951, the Geneva-based manufactory launched the second generation of clean perpetual calendars, represented by the 2438/1 and 2497 models, which were produced until 1963. A total of 120 copies of the 2497 model and about 60 copies of the 2438/1 model were made over the years.
The exact number is difficult to establish due to Patek Philippe’s traditional nondisclosure policy. In some cases, the exact number of watches produced can be determined from the serial numbers of the cases and movements.
In this case, it is difficult to do this, since the 2497 and 2438 models are almost the same and their main difference is that the Ref. 2438/1 is a waterproof watch with a screw-down case back. In total, 179 copies were made of both models, while it is believed that that 120 of them belong to model 2497 (permeable). Starting their serial production, Patek Philippe replaced the caliber of the previous “eternals” with a new one – 27 SC and increased the case size to 37 mm.
The first, despite the larger serial number, was launched into production model 2497. Collectors distinguish three series of these watches. All of them, on the whole, are designed in the same design as the “eternals” of the first generation, but the second hand for all the series is central.
The differences mainly concern hour markers and the shape of the hands. In the first series, Arabic numerals alternate with cone-shaped dots, in the second, the hour and minute hands are changed to the “dauphine” style, in the third all hour markers are made in the so-called “loaf” shape. The waterproof 2438/1 is sometimes referred to as the fourth series. It has a characteristic screw-down case back and a crown recessed deeper into the case. All of these models are very highly valued in the market today, and people who bought them at one time made an extremely profitable investment. So, for example, model 2438,
In 1962, Patek Philippe introduced the third generation perpetual calendar (Ref. 3448), which was produced until 1982. For 20 years, only 586 copies of these watches were made. In this case, the exact number is known, since the movement of the first watches of this model had the serial number 1119000, and the last one – 1119585.
This was the first perpetual calendar with an automatic caliber 27-460Q. It retains the dimensions of the previous models, although the case design has undergone some changes due to the flat welt. The dial of the 3448 model is almost identical to the last series of the previous models, although the first copies of the new watches had “baton” -type hands, which were quickly replaced by the more familiar “Dauphins”.
Several copies of this model were released without a lunar phase indication. Interestingly, the function itself was preserved in the mechanism, but at the request of customers it was not displayed on the dial. The auction value of these watches is also very high, and has grown several times since the end of production.
In the early 1960s. Patek Philippe tried to launch another model into series production – the 3449, based on the manual winding caliber 23-300Q. It did not come to mass production, and only 3 copies were released. One of them is currently kept in the museum of the manufacture, and it was necessary to buy watches for the Patek Philippe exposition at a thematic auction dedicated to the Geneva house itself. Today the 3449 is one of the most expensive watches on the market in general. Two other timepieces of these watches, which initially did not exceed CHF 10,000, were sold at auctions in 1998 and 2004, for $ 1,102,500 and CHF 1,766,250, respectively.
In 1981, a model of the fourth generation of the Patek “vechniks” 3450 appeared with the same automatic caliber 27-460Q as the previous series. In total, up to 1986, these watches were created 244 copies. In addition to the case that had grown by 1 mm, the main difference of the new model was the presence of a small leap year indicator on the right side of the dial. This option appeared on individual copies of the previous watches (Ref. 3448), but now it was decided to make it basic. In the first series of new watches, the leap year was highlighted with a red dot, then it was replaced by a Roman numeral showing the ordinal number of the year in the leap cycle. A small number of models 3450 have the designation of the leap cycle in Arabic numerals and a sapphire case back.
In 1985, Patek Philippe introduced a completely new self-winding perpetual calendar, the 3940, based on the new caliber 240 Q. This watch was very different from anything that the Geneva manufacture had created in the previous half century. And at the same time, they were remarkably reminiscent of the company’s first wrist perpetual calendar, converted in 1925 from a ladies’ pendant watch.
We can say that the 3940 took all the best at that time from the rich history of the Geneva manufacture. The new creation of Patek Philippe inherited the lower subdial with moon phases and date scale from the previous serial “eternals”, “baton” indexes and “dauphine” hands. From the 1925 calendar – arrow indicators of the day of the week and month.
The first one was located on the left side of the main dial and showed the day of the week and 24-hour time with two hands. The second sub-dial was located on the right side and also had two hands showing the months and the ordinal number of the year in the leap cycle. In order not to overload the main and three additional dials even more, the company’s developers decided to abandon the second hand altogether, as if making it clear that seconds are not the main thing when looking at eternity.
As a result,
The 3940 is surprisingly comfortable and harmonious, making it one of the finest and most revered in the history of all watchmaking. The watch was made even more attractive by a very reliable caliber, which was later used in many other calendars based on the 3940. The reliability of these watches is also evidenced by the fact that they are constantly worn by the current honorary president of the company, who headed it for more than thirty years, Philip Stern. with the direct participation of which the model was developed.
An important step in the history of the company was the fact that Patek Philippe took into account the huge demand that has always existed for its calendars, and was able to achieve a significant increase in the number of “eternals” produced, starting with this particular model. In just 22 years of production, more than 7,000 copies of this model were produced, that is, approximately 300 watches per year, which is in itself a great achievement for mechanisms of such complexity.
The first 25 pieces of the 3940 were dedicated to the 225th anniversary of longtime Patek Philippe partner Beyer, Zurich, and feature serial numbers on the dial (under the moon phase), making them particularly attractive to collectors. Subsequently, the dial has undergone various minor changes several times, which allows specialists to distinguish between the three series of these watches. All of them, however, are purely decorative in nature and are associated, for example, with different color schemes of the main and sub dials. We can say that the most valuable are the champagne-colored dials, which were on the limited edition for Beyer and were extremely rare after that.
Vechnik 3940 and its caliber became the basis for a whole group of watches. This group includes models 3941, 3945, 5038, 5039, 5040, 5041, 5049, 5136, 5139. The rarest of them is the 5041 (with a barrel-shaped case), of which fewer than 50 were produced. At the 2006 Basel Exhibition, Patek Philippe presented the 5140, which replaced the now truly iconic 3940. There were no radical changes to the watch. Paying tribute to fashion, their body has grown by 1 mm and amounted to 37 mm. That, in fact, is all. However, apparently, nothing really needed to be changed, since the real classics stand outside time and market conditions.
To conclude the story about the “pure” perpetual calendars of Patek Philippe, it remains to tell about the family of “eternal” with a retrograde date. For the first time such a calendar was created in a single copy in 1937, and only 56 years later the retrograde date became part of the production model (Ref. 5050). The first model was produced from 1993 to 2002, and during this time about 1,100 copies were created. The watch used the new caliber 315/136. Model 5050 had three apertures – for displaying the day of the week (at 9 o’clock), month (at 3 o’clock) and the leap cycle (under 12 o’clock), as well as a moon phase indicator at the bottom of the dial. The dial was produced with two variants of the hour scale: with Roman numerals or rectangular indexes.
In 1998, the 5050 was complemented by the 5059, also with a retrograde date.
It differed from the previous one by an officer-style case with an additional back metal cover, which can snap off and demonstrate the operation of the mechanism, protected by an additional sapphire crystal. Due to this, the case of model 5059 has become 1 mm wider and 2 mm higher than its predecessor (respectively – 36 and 13 mm). Of the less significant differences – the design of the hour scale and markers, which in this case were designated only by Roman numerals. Since 2006, instead of the model 5059, a new one has been produced – 5159. It has a different caliber – 324S-QR and the case has slightly grown (38 mm), which has become 1 mm thinner.
Retrograde perpetual calendar in Officer case (Ref. 5059), released in 1998
Perpetual calendars with other complications
Creating a reliable, beautiful and convenient model with any complex function is not an easy task in itself. It is even more difficult to “wind” several complications on one caliber. And to do it so that the watch retains its elegance and classic style, which does not allow them to be too large in diameter, or too “thick”. Very few companies can solve such problems. Moreover, if we are talking about the serial production of super-complex watches.
In the “arsenal” of Patek Philippe there are serial models of watches with almost any combination of complications. After the production of the Sky Moon Tourbillon (which also has a perpetual calendar), it’s hard to imagine what else the Patek watchmakers can do.
Perpetual calendars with chronographs are the most “simple” and also the most popular of the watches with two complex functions. The first production model of this series was released by Patek Philippe in 1941 (Ref. 1518). It was followed by the 2499 and 2499/100 models, which became the predecessors of the Ref. 3970 – the most famous and successful watches with a combination “perpetual calendar – chronograph”. This watch was produced for twenty years, until in 2005 it was replaced by the 5970 model.
Patek Philippe also has perpetual calendars combined with split chronographs (Ref. 2571, Ref. 5004 and 2010 model – Ref. 5951) and minute repeaters (Ref. 3974, Ref. 5013, Ref. 5074). “Evening parties” in these watches are presented for every taste – with digital or hand indication and even with a retrograde date. And of course, one of the most complex models ever produced by the Geneva manufacture – Ref. 5016, where the perpetual calendar is combined with a minute repeater and a tourbillon. And all this in a case with a diameter of 37 and a height of only 15 mm!
Perpetual calendar chronograph Ref. 3970
In 1996, Patek Philippe triumphantly introduced the first annual calendar model to the public, the Ref. 5035, which instantly became very popular with all fans of fine watchmaking. In the same year, Ref. 5035 received the highest recognition from specialists – the prize for the best watch of the year.
For this model, the company has specially developed a new automatic caliber – 315 S QA, which consists of 316 parts.
The idea was to create a kind of simplified version of the perpetual calendar. As you know, the mechanism of the “veterinarian” is able to independently read a different number of days in the months of the year, including February. It is with this month that the mechanism of the annual calendar, patented on March 1, 1996, does not cope. It requires tuning once a year – just on the day Patek Philippe obtains the copyright for its invention.
Based on the model 5035, which became the base, the Geneva manufacture has created a whole series of watches with an annual calendar (Ref. 5056, Ref. 5146). Outwardly, they look very similar, but differ in additional functions and dial design.
All models have two small sub-dials for hand indication of months (at 3 o’clock) and days of the week (at 9 o’clock), as well as a window for displaying the current date at 6 o’clock. But the 5035 has an additional 24-hour day / night indicator at 6 o’clock, and the Patek Philippe Geneve name is written in two lines under the 12-hour mark. Models 5056 and 5146 have a moon phase indicator instead of an auxiliary time of day disc and a power reserve indicator at the 12 o’clock position, which the base model lacks. The name of the company is also placed in two lines at the bottom of the “lunar”, just above the window with the date. The declared power reserve for all models is the same – 48 hours, but the power reserve indicators for models 5056 and 5146 look different.
The 5056 has an arrow, numbers (36 and 12) and dots showing the time before the clock stops, with a low winding zone highlighted in red. On the 5146, the power reserve indicator simply moves from the + (maximum) sign to the – (stop) sign. Finally, the 5056, like the main 5035, has hour markers with Roman numerals (except for 6, where all models have a date window), the 5146 has Arabic numerals 3, 9, and 12 combined with loaf indexes and the platinum version 5146 has all hour markers of the “loaf” type. The declared power reserve for all models is the same – 48 hours, but the power reserve indicators for models 5056 and 5146 look different. 5056 has an arrow, numbers (36 and 12) and dots showing the time before the clock stops, with a low winding zone highlighted in red. On the 5146, the power reserve indicator simply moves from the + (maximum) sign to the – (stop) sign.
Finally, the 5056, like the main 5035, has hour markers with Roman numerals (except for 6, where all models have a date window), the 5146 has Arabic numerals 3, 9, and 12 combined with loaf indexes and the platinum version 5146 has all hour markers of the “loaf” type. The declared power reserve for all models is the same – 48 hours, but the power reserve indicators for models 5056 and 5146 look different. 5056 has an arrow, numbers (36 and 12) and dots showing the time before the clock stops, with a low winding zone highlighted in red. On the 5146, the power reserve indicator simply moves from the + (maximum) sign to the – (stop) sign. Finally, the 5056, like the main 5035, has hour markers with Roman numerals (except for 6, where all models have a date window), the 5146 has Arabic numerals 3, 9, and 12 combined with loaf indexes and the platinum version 5146 has all hour markers of the “loaf” type. with the low plant zone highlighted in red.
On the 5146, the power reserve indicator simply moves from the + (maximum) sign to the – (stop) sign. Finally, the 5056, like the main 5035, has hour markers with Roman numerals (except for 6, where all models have a date window), the 5146 has Arabic numerals 3, 9, and 12 combined with loaf indexes and the platinum version 5146 has all hour markers of the “loaf” type. with the low plant zone highlighted in red. On the 5146, the power reserve indicator simply moves from the + (maximum) sign to the – (stop) sign. Finally, the 5056, like the main 5035, has hour markers with Roman numerals (except for 6, where all models have a date window), the 5146 has Arabic numerals 3, 9, and 12 combined with loaf indexes and the platinum version 5146 has all hour markers of the “loaf” type.
Models 5035 and 5146 were available with cases in all colors of gold (yellow, pink and white) and platinum, and model 5056 – only in platinum (this model also has a small diamond recessed into the rib of the case at 6 o’clock). In addition to them, on the basis of model 5035 were created models 5036/1 and 5146/1 (in all gold colors with integrated gold bracelets), as well as – 5037/1 and 5147 (case with diamonds).
To the delight of the beautiful ladies, Patek Philippe has expanded its line of annual calendars with large (35 mm) ones, with mother-of-pearl dials and adorned with different numbers of diamonds for the ladies’ models – 4936 and 4937, which are otherwise practically indistinguishable from men’s. Completed the “family” of the first annual calendars, three limited editions (5250, 5350 and 5450), crafted with silinvar parts as part of the advanced research in-house program. In the last two models, as well as in the ladies’ ones, a different caliber was used – 324.
Eight years after the release of the first annual calendar, Patek Philippe has created a new model based on the 324 caliber – the annual calendar “gondolo” with a numeric designation of all the indicators of the calendar.
In a barrel-shaped convex case was placed a mechanism showing the date (window at 12 o’clock), month (window above 2 o’clock) and day of the week (window above 11 o’clock). The sub-dial of the time of day was aligned with the lunar and placed above 6 o’clock. Almost immediately after that, on the basis of the new “Calatrava” (which, in turn, was inspired by one of the images of the 96th model of the 30s), another annual calendar was created (Ref. 5396).
And already in 2010, two new models appeared at once – the extremely elegant Calatrava 5205, which is still available only in white gold, and the first annual calendar of the Nautilus line (Ref. 5726) in steel version. All three models have a digital display of the full calendar and a traditional lunar subdial, combined with a 24-hour display. Obviously, the popularity of annual calendars implies a further expansion of their model range.
The demand for mechanical calendars, even in our age of electronics, makes watch companies constantly surprise the world with new developments. Until now, the masters of Patek Philippe have managed to do this with enviable regularity, and they are clearly not going to put an end to this creative process.