The new Patek Philippe Regulator with Annual Calendar (Ref. 5235) is their first self-winding timekeeper with a micro-rotor design that successfully combines the two complications in a single timepiece.
The task of creating a regulator with an annual calendar doesn’t seem to be especially challenging. However, there are very few brands that successfully accomplish the mission. Most of the timepieces that feature such a combination of functions tend to sport bloated, hard to grasp layouts that somehow defeat the idea behind a “regulator”: in theory, it must be a highly legible device without numerous indicators screaming for attention, getting in each other’s way.
For Patek Philippe, which is known for the superb legibility of its timepieces, the mission wasn’t that difficult.
They simply (or so it seems) copied and pasted elements of design from their other watches and created a masterpiece that will without a doubt become a subject of countless case studies on various courses of industrial design.
As you can see in the photos above and below, the 5235 sports a rather standard layout.
There is a centrally positioned minute hand that sweeps effortlessly along the blue transfer printed minute track and a pair of sub-dials at 12 and 6 o’clock showing hours and seconds respectively.
The day of week and month indicators are aptly placed between 10 and 11 and 1 and 3 hours respectively, while the small date aperture is placed at 6 o’clock, inside the subsidiary seconds indicator.
As simple as it could be. Also, efficient.
To do the trick, however, the Swiss engineers had to seriously rework their well-known PP Cal. 240 automatic movement.
The first of all, they completely reworked the going train in order to reduce friction (and thus making it less prone to wear) and increasing the energy efficiency of the caliber.
Its escape wheel, the balance spring, as well as the lever of the Pulsomax escapement, are now crafted not from a metal alloy, but from an anti-magnetic, shock-resistant, non-corroding, and lubrication-free Silinvar material, which is based on silicon.
To make the movement even more efficient, they equipped it with a reworked micro-rotor, which is made of solid gold and is 0.3 mm thicker than the base version.
As a result, the 5235 sports 25 percent better power reserve (minimum 60 hours of continuous operation against 48 hours guaranteed for the Cal. 240,) while beating at a 10 percent higher speed of 23,040 vibrations per hour.
The base caliber is simple in its design (it is normally used to power Patek Philippe’s dressy two-handers.)
So, in order to equip it with the annual calendar complication, it was equipped with a bespoke module that added around 1.3 millimeters to its overall diameter, almost 2.5 millimeters to its maximum height, and increased the parts count from modest 181 to more impressive 320 components.
The whole assembly, which is called Caliber 31-260 REG QA is placed inside a humble white gold case that features an entertaining combination of mirror-polished (the chamfered bezel and the transparent case back with a sapphire crystal) and satin-finished (case-band) surfaces.
Only 40.5 millimeters in diameter, it is less than 11 millimeters in height, which further emphasizes its role as an object of the difficult to learn the art of inconspicuous consumption.
No funny stuff here: you can always wear such a timekeeper for a royal wedding without risking raising a regal eyebrow or two.
The list price for the new Patek Philippe Regulator with Annual Calendar (Ref. 5235) is yet to be announced*, but you would better be ready to pay at least €20,000 for this piece of understated beauty.
* UPDATE ON PRICE: The ref. 5235 will be first available with MSRP of $53,500.
Photos: Patek Philippe
Patek Philippe Regulator with Annual Calendar Ref. 5235 specification
Price: $53,500 (MSRP)
Movement: Automatic, Micro-Rotor, Caliber 31-260 REG QA, based on PP Caliber 240 movement, 23,040 vph, 29 jewels, 320 parts, Silinvar components, in-house, Swiss Made
Movement decoration: Geneva stripes, Patek Philippe Seal, micro-rotor in solid gold
Functions: Regulator hours, minutes, seconds, date, month, day of week
Power reserve: 60 hours
Case: White gold
Size: 40.50 mm
Lug width: 20.00 mm
Case height: 10.65 mm
Dial: Grey, vertical satin finish
Numerals: Arabic, blue, transfer-printed
Hour markers: Blue
Hands: Blued steel
Water resistance: 30 meters
Strap: Natural Alligator leather strap with square scales, matt night-blue, hand-stitched, 16-millimeter prong buckle crafted from 18-karat white gold with signature “Patek Philippe” engraving