The perpetual calendar chronograph has long been the face of complicated watchmaking at Patek Philippe. Since the days of the Ref. 1518 – the very first mass-produced perpetual calendar chronograph wristwatch – this particular combination of complications on one watch has been deeply adored by collectors and Patek Philippe enthusiasts. In fact, the design of the Ref. 1518 was so effective that it became the model for all references down the line. Patek Philippe knows better than to fix something that isn’t broken.
Patek Philippe Perpetual Calendar Chronograph Ref. 5270P-014
The Ref. 5270 is Patek Philippe’s current resident perpetual calendar chronograph wristwatch. Born in 2011, the Ref. 5270 is the culmination of the brand’s watchmaking expertise and the worthy successor to the Ref. 5970 before. This year at Watches & Wonders 2022, Patek Philippe presented another variant of the Ref. 5270 – but this time it’s more than just a color/material change. This latest version represents the first part of the next (fourth) generation of the Ref. 5270. Here we bring you the details and our honest thoughts on the new Patek Philippe Perpetual Calendar Chronograph Ref. 5270P-014.
The case, dial and hands
One of the areas in which the new Ref. 5270P remains unchanged in case design. Still 41mm in diameter, the absolutely stunning case features stepped lugs and a concave bezel. As is customary for all platinum-cased Patek Philippe wristwatches, a diamond is embedded in the bracelet at 6 o’clock. The two pushers on the flanks – brushed on the sides, polished on the top – start, stop and reset the chronograph function. There are recessed pushers on all flanks that adjust the perpetual calendar indications when pressed. Of all the perpetual calendar chronograph wristwatches on the market, you’d be hard pressed to find one with a more charming case. The only small complaint that some connoisseurs might have concerns its size; at 41 mm, it is the largest reference in the line of Patek Philippe perpetual calendar chronographs. Patek Philippe is synonymous with elegance and perhaps the Ref. 5270 can be seen as undermining this fundamental principle. Times are changing, however, and to be fair, the watch still wears with panache on the average male wrist.
Speaking of changing times, who would have expected one of Patek Philippe’s most classic and revered models to flex a green dial? Until now, the dials of the numerous variants of the Ref. 5270 featured conservative colors like white or black; colors have only become as adventurous as dark blue or salmon. It’s further proof that Patek Philippe is increasingly targeting a younger clientele – just take a look at the brand’s latest Calatrava watch. But we digress. To be fair, the shade of green used by Patek Philippe on their latest Ref. 5270 is more regal than casual. In fact, the way it fades to black on the periphery is truly fascinating. Once you get over the new exotic dial, you’ll find there are more changes to the dial. The most obvious change is the absence of a tachymeter scale, resulting in a less complex but cleaner dial. With one scale less, the date display no longer needs to cut off the remaining scales for lack of space. The name of the game is simplification and this extends to the new sans serif font used for all numbers listed. It’s also worth mentioning that the hour and minute hands are no longer leaf-style, and the hour markers are now angled at one end.
These changes to the dial are subtle enough that you probably wouldn’t notice them or mind them unless you were extremely keen on previous versions. The one thing that certainly hasn’t changed is the layout. The Ref. 5270 remains the most intuitively readable perpetual calendar chronograph on the market thanks to its cruciform layout and the judicious use of aperture displays. This is the one aspect of the watch that has remained a constant through the four generations of the Ref. 5270.
As the unchanged layout of the displays on the dial suggests, the Ref. 5270P-014 is driven by the same CH 29-535 PS Q caliber that has always been present in the Ref. 5270. After a long period of reliance on third-party suppliers to supply movements, the CH 29-535 PS Q caliber is the first Patek Philippe perpetual calendar chronograph movement to be designed and manufactured entirely in-house. It is arguably the most technically advanced movement of its kind. No less than six patented innovations are inside, all with the goal of improving efficiency, reducing wear and even eliminating hand tremor. Just below the dial is the perpetual calendar module which features a moon phase indicator that deviates from the lunar cycle by a single day every 122 years.
Beyond functionality, the Caliber CH 29-535 PS Q is also very attractive. Thanks to its old school construction, the chronograph mechanisms of the movement are perfectly visible through the sapphire crystal caseback. Note the levers, springs and clutches in brushed steel which contrast with the bridges adorned with Geneva waves. Not to mention the column wheel cap which has been polished black, an unusual sight since the column wheel is most often on display. There are many polished outer angles on the bridges and chronograph parts, which are the hallmark of a handcrafted movement. The lack of interiority angle it’s a shame, even if it’s understandable given the volume of watches that Patek Philippe produces each year.
The competitive landscape
The perpetual calendar chronograph segment is rife with competition these days. There are a number of specimens from Swiss and German manufacturers that are truly commendable. Nonetheless, Patek Philippe remains the market leader given the brand’s long and intimate history with the perpetual calendar chronograph and their superb track record for creating some of watchmaking’s most adored references (think Ref. 5970 and Ref 2499). The announcement by Patek Philippe of the new Ref. The 5270P-014 came as a slight surprise as some speculated that there would be no fourth generation for the reference. Not only was there to be a new generation of Ref. 5270s, this one came with a bang, green dial and green dots and everything. The Ref. 5270P-014 is priced at EUR 189,500, EUR 20,000 more than the Ref. 5270P – the latest platinum variant introduced.
If there were to be a perpetual calendar chronograph that could match Patek Philippe’s, it would be the A. Lange & Söhne Datograph Perpetual. The caliber L952.1 beating within it is considered one of the finest chronograph movements ever made. Indeed, on closer inspection, one can appreciate the exceptional level of finish conferred on it, even exceeding that of Caliber CH 29-535 PS Q. Among other things, there are hot-blued screws, a balance cock hand-engraved and numerous, sharp inside corners. That said, Caliber CH 29-535 PS Q objectively remains the most technical movement. From our point of view, the layout of the dial of the Ref. The 5270P is also more readable and intuitive than the Datograph Perpetual which can feel a little cluttered on the sub-dials. In the end, it all comes down to what a buyer likes in a watch. There is also the price to take into account: the Datograph Perpetual in white gold is around 120,000 euros. That’s significantly cheaper than the Patek Philippe – even after factoring in the platinum premium – making the Datograph Perpetual a valid alternative to the Ref. 5270.
For something a little less classic, look no further than the Chopard LUC Perpetual Chrono. By far the most contemporary option of the trio, the Perpetual Chrono is a stunning 45mm wide and 15.06mm thick. This is not a watch for small wrists. The dial itself is also suited to modern tastes with its chunky hour markers and heavily textured sunburst dial. The highlight has to be the orbital moon phase display which, like the Datograph Perpetual and the Ref. 5270 – is accurate to within one day every 122 years. The caliber 03.10-L that powers the watch features a vertical clutch coupling that provides smooth yet firm activation of timing-related components. Don’t get me wrong, the caseback view might not be as scenic as the Lange or the Patek, but this is a Poinçon de Genève hallmarked movement with COSC certification. This platinum variant of the LUC Perpetual Chrono is made in a limited run of just 20 pieces and – at the time of its release – was priced at just over 100,000 euros. The watch offers excellent value for money compared to its competitors, as long as you can wear it on your wrist.
It is hard to believe that the Ref. 5270 has been around for 11 years now. But what’s more amazing is how Patek Philippe has managed to keep the reference fresh, that is, introducing new generations, bringing back the beloved salmon dial, and this year, presenting a potentially divisive green dial. And even after more than a decade, it’s no exaggeration to say that it remains the finest perpetual calendar chronograph still in production. Patek will likely spin the wheel of case/dial permutations and release a few more variants for this new generation Ref. 5270s, but what comes after that is anyone’s guess. While Ref. 5970 was only in production for 7-8 years, older Patek Philippe perpetual calendar chronograph references such as the Ref. 3970 and Ref. 2499 had double digit production years. For now, the brand does not have much impetus to create an all-new perpetual calendar chronograph reference given that the movement and design of the Ref. 5270 is still very relevant. This just reiterates how evolutionary and timeless Patek perpetual calendar chronographs are.