I don’t think there was a brand this year at Basel that did not ride on the vintage craze wave, by reissuing or releasing new watches inspired by the past. Even Patek, who is known not to buy into trends of such nature, dipped their toes in with the newly-released Perpetual Calendar Ref. 5320.
Straight into the details: the watch is sized at a modern 40mm and for a first in modern times, features a perpetual calendar with such a layout – previously this layout had been reserved for Patek’s annual calendars. With apertures at 12 o’clock denoting the day and the month, a 6 o’clock subsidiary dial showing the moon phase and date and two circular apertures either side of it being a day/night indicator and leap year indicator. In my opinion, this layout is one of the best – extremely legible, elegant and designed perfectly. Couple this with luminous applied Arabic numerals and dots with black gold surrounds, and matching syringe hands which rest atop an eggshell lacquered dial, what you get is Patek’s re-interpretation of its past.
The movement is a new-ish too, the Calibre 324 SQ, usually reserved for their annual calendar models. What is different here is that it’s using a full rotor, as compared to the 5140 and its variants that uses the 240Q with a micro-rotor.
Regarding the case, I do think the combination of a step case with fancy lugs that are stepped a couple more times, perhaps goes slightly overboard. The very appeal of the Ref. 5320s dial layout lies in its simplicity. It is why the vintage Patek perpetual calendars are seen as some of the most elegant and attractive watches out there but on this occasion, when the case comes into play, I feel it completely cancels this idea out and clutters the overall design.
The very idea of combining characteristics of different watches of the past into one, I believe, was always going to be problematic. There is a reason why the sunburst pushers of the 1463 are such a nice touch, or the leap year indicator ‘red dot’ of the 3450 is so loved, because it is just that – a touch here, a flourish there. With the Ref. 5320, what you get is a combination of so many beautiful aspects of Patek’s past, the stepped, downturned lugs, the syringe hands, the perpetual calendar layout, the step case, the lacquer, eggshell style dial – but perhaps it is just too much in my honest and humble opinion.
At the end of the day, despite the Patek Philippe Ref. 5320 having mixed reviews, it was certainly one of the highlights of Basel and I have heard many who do think quite highly of this. It’s nice to see that there is still a hint of that Patek ‘we don’t buy into trends’, as we have yet to see them use the apparently dreaded faux patina (I don’t mind it at all).
The new Perpetual Calendar reference 5320G is priced at £60,090, for more information visit the official Patek Philippe website.