You can only witness magic when two useful complications come together in a single timepiece. Patek Philippe is setting the bar high at Watches And Wonders 2022 with the launch of the Ref. 5326G-001 Annual Calendar Travel Time.
For the first time, Patek Philippe has combined two of its greatest patented complexities in one watch: the Annual Calendar (which only needs to be adjusted manually once a year) and the Travel Time system, which displays a second time zone. The end result is a travel watch with a date display that is synchronised with the local time. When the time zone is updated, it also modifies the date. There are eight patents on the new self-winding calibre 31-260 PS QA LU FUS 24H movement. The manufacturer designed a completely new Calatrava casing to present it in flair. The dial is framed in the retro genre inspired by old picture cameras, and its sides are guilloched with the characteristic hobnail pattern.
The mechanical perfection and aesthetic elegance of a timepiece have always been equally important to Patek Philippe. The manufacturer’s inventions are constantly focused on the movement, casing, and dial composition. The new Ref. 5326G00 Annual Calendar Travel Time is a perfect example of an approach that combines all facets of watchmaking artistry with balanced elegance, thanks to its self-winding movement with two exclusive functions, it’s round Calatrava case with unique design and decorative features, and an inimitable dial.
Time for useful complications
Patek Philippe consolidated all of its Genevan ateliers in Plan-les-Ouates in 1996 and drew notice with the introduction of its patented Annual Calendar. It’s a full calendar including day, date, and month that only needs to be changed manually once a year on March 1st. Engineers created an inventive mechanism based mostly on wheels and pinions to produce the system that automatically distinguishes between months with 30 and 31 days.
Since then, the Annual Calendar has become a standout among the sophisticated timepieces produced by the company. It is now available in a wide range of ladies’ and men’s wristwatches, as well as various self-winding flyback chronograph model variations. Patek Philippe even coupled the Annual Calendar with a minute repeater movement in the Ref. 5033.
A new mechanical challenge
There were various technological problems in connecting the Annual Calendar and the Travel Time feature. It wasn’t merely a matter of fitting both devices into the same case. They had to interact in such a way that the displayed date matched local time, and hence the time at the watch’s wearer’s location. When the time zone is corrected, it may need to be modified.
The Annual Calendar is thus controlled by the Travel Time function in the new calibre 31-260 PS QA LU FUS 24H movement, and the calendar is driven by the local-time hour wheel. Connoisseurs will be pleased to learn that the Ref. 5531 World Time Minute Repeater (2017) principle has been preserved. It is the first-minute repeater that always sounds local time because the World Time mechanism controls the minute repeater.
Discreet and elegant operation of the Travel Time function with the crown
For the new Ref. 5326G-001, Patek Philippe redesigned the Travel Time function as well. While the basic principle with two hour hands from the center is retained (solid hand for local time, pierced hand for home time), the two common time zone pushers in the left-hand case flank were replaced with a winding-stem setting mechanism that has three positions. It premiered in 2021 with the Aquanaut Luce Travel Time.
An Annual Calendar with Quick Jumps in the Display
The Annual Calendar mechanism had to be modified to ensure that the watch always displayed the date that corresponded to the relevant local time. In a traditional annual calendar, the display advance at midnight lasts around 90 minutes, thus if the time zone is changed during this time, a date misalignment could occur. Patek Philippe engineers reduced the display advance of the Annual Calendar discs by a factor of 5 to around 18 minutes to ensure that users see the correct date for longer.
The sapphire-crystal case back reveals the architecture of the caliber 31-260 PS QA LU FUS 24H movement with the elegantly cut and gently curved bridges. It affords a better view of the wheels of the base movement and the exquisite manually executed finissage that reflects the strict directives of the Patek Philippe Seal.
A totally new case with a guilloched hobnail pattern
To accommodate this mechanical movement with its exclusive functions, Patek Philippe created a new white-gold case with a diameter of 41 millimetres. With its slightly chamfered bezel and the polished, inclined lugs, it underscores the sleek and timeless elegance of the Calatrava design yet expresses its very own distinctive personality. The case middle displays Patek Philippe’s signature hobnail motif along its entire circumference.
In the case of the Ref. 5326G-001 Annual Calendar Travel Time, it provides a new perspective of this very refined element of the Patek Philippe style. To allow the hobnail pattern to so elegantly adorn the complete flank of the caseband, Patek Philippe conceived an exceptional case design in which the strap lugs are attached to the case back.
A vintage-look dial
Another unique facet of the Ref. 5326G-001 is its vintage-style dial. It is crafted entirely by Cadrans Flückiger in Saint-Imier, a dial specialist which has belonged to Patek Philippe since 2004. The dial is charcoal gray with a fine gradation to the periphery and has a slightly granular structure that is reminiscent of the cases of old photo cameras. It is an aspect that quickly associates with getaways, wanderlust and exploration.
The new Ref. 5326G-001 Annual Calendar Travel Time is delivered with two interchangeable straps, one beige calfskin with nubuck texture (original version), the other black calfskin with embossed textile finish and beige decorative stitching (additional strap). Both straps underscore the vintage style of the dial. They both assure comfort and safety with a fold-over clasp in 18K white gold.
This watch is another perfect fusion of movement, case, and dial the Patek Philippe way!