Patek Philippe Perpetual Calendar Chronograph
Among the most famous watches from Patek Philippe are those featuring its signature complication, the perpetual calendar, along with a chronograph. The lineage of Patek Philippe Perpetual Calendar Chronograph watches stretches from 1941 to today and features watches that are among the most valuable collectibles in horology.
- 1 Ref. 1518 Perpetual Calendar Chronograph
- 2 Ref. 2499 Perpetual Calendar Chronograph
- 3 Ref. 3970 Perpetual Calendar Chronograph
- 4 Ref. 5020 Perpetual Calendar Chronograph
- 5 Ref. 5004 Perpetual Calendar Split Seconds Chronograph
- 6 Ref. 5970 Perpetual Calendar Chronograph
- 7 Ref. 5270 Perpetual Calendar Chronograph
- 8 Ref. 5204 Perpetual Calendar Split Seconds Chronograph
- 9 Ref. 5372 Perpetual Calendar Split Seconds Monopusher Chronograph
- 10 Ref. 5208 Minute Repeater Perpetual Calendar Chronograph
- 11 Ref. 5951 Perpetual Calendar Split Seconds Chronograph
- 12 External Links
Ref. 1518 Perpetual Calendar Chronograph
- Main Article: Patek Philippe Perpetual Calendar Chronograph 1518
The first Patek Philippe watch to combine the chronograph and perpetual calendar complications was the Ref. 1518 from 1941. Not only was it the first Patek Philippe watch with this combination of complications, it was the first from any manufacturer as well as the first serially-produced complicated watch from the brand.
The original Ref. 1518 set the template for all future references from Patek Philippe, with a symmetrical dial divided into three distinct sections:
- The day and date was displayed in two apertures at 12:00
- The chronograph was displayed in twin subdials at 3:00 and 9:00
- The date and moon phase was displayed in a larger subdial at 6:00
Ref. 1518 also featured classic Patek Philippe touches, including a tachymeter scale around railroad-style minutes track and Arabic numerals. Ref. 1518 used a Valjoux ebauche modified by Patek Philippe to become Cal. 13-130. The case is 35 mm in diameter with a large dial and limited bezel. Square chronograph pushers are at 2:00 and 4:00.
Four examples of Ref. 1518 were produced in stainless steel, a material much sought-after by brand collectors today. None have been sold in public, so the value of these watches is not known. Ref. 1518 was produced from 1941 through 1954.
Ref. 2499 Perpetual Calendar Chronograph
- Main Article: Patek Philippe Perpetual Calendar Chronograph 2499
Launched in 1951, this new reference strongly resembled its predecessor, with the first series having the same square pushers, tachymeter scale, and Arabic numerals as Ref. 1518. But the case was larger at 37 mm, with thicker bezels. It also used a Valjoux-based movement. The most expensive Ref. 2499 ever to sell at auction was an Asprey-signed first-series sold in November, 2018 for CHF 3,915,000 or roughly $3.9 million. A Serpico y Laino-signed first-series 2499 sold for CHF 3,252,500 ($3.23 million) the day before.
In the mid- to late-1950s, Patek Philippe updated the styling of the Ref. 2499. This "second series" has become the most sought-after collectible for model enthusiasts, with some fetching over $2 million at auction today. Most feature round pump pushers, and some have applied baton markers rather than Arabic numerals.
A "third series" was produced from approximately 1960 through 1978, with none featuring Arabic numerals or a tachymeter scale. These have a more elegant appearance due to the simplified dial but are more common.
From 1978 through 1985, Patek Philippe produced a "fourth series" of Ref. 2499 Perpetual Calendar Chronographs. These feature a sapphire crystal and have clean dials and baton markers like the third series.
The last of the fourth series are marked as "Ref. 2499/100". Two of these were made in platinum in 1985, with one retained in the museum and the other sold at auction in 1989 for SFR 418,000, becoming one of the most expensive watches ever sold at the time. This watch was eventually purchased by musician Eric Clapton, selling for $3.63 million in 2012.
Ref. 3970 Perpetual Calendar Chronograph
- Main Article: Patek Philippe Perpetual Calendar Chronograph 3970
Patek Philippe switched to Lemania to supply the ebauche movement, selecting the Lemania 2310 to become the Cal. CH 27-70 Q. This same movement would be used in the following Ref. 5020 and Ref. 5970 models.
Ref. 3970 was smaller than its predecessor at 36 mm diameter and featured classic dress chronograph styling that is a clear evolution for the model. The first 100 watches were marked either Ref. 3970 (with a solid snap-on caseback) or Ref. 3971 (with a sapphire display caseback). These have leaf hands and baton markers like the preceding Ref. 2499 and are noted for the off-color chronograph subdials.
The second series of Ref. 3970 watches have matching subdials on the dial as well as a solid screw-on caseback, though a sapphire display back was available on request. These were produced from 1986 through about 1991, with a sapphire-backed Ref. 3971 also produced.
In 1991, Patek Philippe introduced the "etanche" ("waterproof") Ref. 3970E, with either solid or display screw-on backs. This third series features baton hands and hour markers with inward-pointing tips. The dial was modernized as well, with a lighter color and darker printing.
Ref. 5020 Perpetual Calendar Chronograph
- Main Article: Patek Philippe Perpetual Calendar Chronograph 5020
While most Patek Philippe Perpetual Calendar Chronograph watches in the 1990s were Ref. 3970 models, the company also made a tonneau shaped Ref. 5020 for a few years. It is estimated that under 300 examples of Ref. 5020 were produced, with a large "TV" style case, Breguet hands and Breguet numerals.
Ref. 5004 Perpetual Calendar Split Seconds Chronograph
Another unique Patek Philippe Perpetual Calendar Chronograph from the 1990s was Ref. 5004, a rattrapante version. Although the case remained 36 mm as on Ref. 3970, the added split-seconds module made for a much thicker case. Launched in 1996, just a dozen or so were produced each year until it was replaced in 2012 with the in-house Ref. 5204.
The final 50 Ref. 5004's were produced in stainless steel with the owner's name engraved on the caseback to discourage resale. These have proven desirable at auction even though the steel version represents a large percentage of overall production. A unique Ref. 5004T with a titanium case was sold at Only Watch for a record $3.98 million.
Ref. 5970 Perpetual Calendar Chronograph
- Main Article: Patek Philippe Perpetual Calendar Chronograph 5970
Patek Philippe's next Perpetual Calendar Chronograph reference was the Ref. 5970, produced from 2004 through 2011. It was upsized, with a 40 mm case competing in that era of oversized watches, and brought back the tachymeter scale, leaf-shaped hands, and square pushers of the original. Ref. 5970 still used the Lemania-based movement of its predecessor.
Four versions of Ref. 5970 were produced. 5970J, in yellow gold, may be the rarest, and brings more at auction than other models today.
Ref. 5270 Perpetual Calendar Chronograph
- Main Article: Patek Philippe Perpetual Calendar Chronograph 5270
The current Patek Philippe Perpetual Calendar Chronograph is Ref. 5270, with the in-house Cal. CH 29-535 PS Q. The case is now 41 mm diameter and 12.4 mm thick, but the classic design recalls the previous Ref. 5970 as well as the original Ref. 1518.
Ref. 5204 Perpetual Calendar Split Seconds Chronograph
- Main Article: Patek Philippe Perpetual Calendar Chronograph 5204
In addition to the standard Perpetual Calendar Chronograph, Patek Philippe produces a split-seconds version, Ref. 5204. This uses the same in-house Cal. CHR 29-535 PS Q as the standard Ref. 5270 but with the rattrapante function added. The case is different, however, as is the styling. It measures 40.2 mm diameter, smaller than the regular version, but is thicker at 14.3 mm. The design recalls the Ref. 3970 with leaf hands, baton markers, and round pushers.
Ref. 5372 Perpetual Calendar Split Seconds Monopusher Chronograph
- Main Article: Patek Philippe Perpetual Calendar Chronograph 5372
Another rare modern Perpetual Calendar Chronograph from Patek Philippe is the monopusher split-seconds Ref. 5372. Part of the company's Grand Complications line, Ref. 5372 is styled like a modern Perpetual Calendar Chronograph but with just one pusher at 2:00 in addition to the split-seconds pusher in the crown. The dial is radically redesigned, with the moon phase moved to 12:00, the day and date embedded in the chronograph dials at 9:00 and 3:00, respectively, and the date by pointer remaining at 6:00. The case is smaller than most modern Patek Philippe chronographs at just 38.3 mm diameter and 12.93 mm thick.
The movement is different from other models as well, being based on the Cal. CHR 27-252.
Ref. 5208 Minute Repeater Perpetual Calendar Chronograph
Patek Philippe introduced a Minute Repeater Perpetual Calendar Chronograph at BaselWorld in 2010, part of the company's Grand Complications line. It features a single pusher to operate the column wheel chronograph, with traditional displays at 3:00 and 6:00. The perpetual calendar differs from the family, with the date displayed along with the day and month along the top of the dial while the moon phase indicator remains at 6:00. It also adds a minute repeater, making it a true grand complication.
Ref. 5951 Perpetual Calendar Split Seconds Chronograph
The unusual tonneau-cased Ref. 5020 was recalled in 2011 for the new Ref. 5951 Split Seconds Chronograph. This was a monopusher version with Cal. CHR 27-525 PS, which moved the day and month display between the chronograph subdials and the date pointer subdial and the moon phase indicator to 12:00.
- Understanding The Entire Lineage Of Patek Philippe Perpetual Calendar Chronographs, Hodinkee, March 11, 2014