For Patek Philippe, 2014 is a crucial year to which the Geneva-based brand will devote a great deal of energy. The first sign of this vitality is the renewal of their entirely redesigned Baselworld booth that is more spacious, transparent and modern than ever. This evolution heralds a key milestone, since 2014 is the year of Patek Philippe’s 175th anniversary. The company will be celebrating its 175 years of uninterrupted activity in due style later this year and we can expect many new and significant models to be unveiled in October.
But this is Baselworld and Patek Philippe is already shaking things up. Two new releases in particular are set to shift the prevailing perception of Patek, since 2014 sees the launch of complicated watches in steel. Most of the brand’s watches are made of precious metals, as International Communication and Public Relations Director Jasmina Steel points out: “At Patek Philippe, steel accounts for a maximum 20% of our production, apart from the ladies’ Twenty~4® model”. The new 5960/1A thus opens a new chapter. This automatic chronograph with annual calendar is replacing its more precious counterparts 5960P (in platinum) and 5960R (in pink gold), which will no longer be available. The 5960/1A features the same movement, complication and size, but its case and bracelet are in steel. Its white dial with black hour-markers adopts a sporting chic look, accentuated by the red chronograph minutes and seconds hands. Even its Nautilus collection is not so distinctively sporty.
Speaking of Nautilus, the line is also seeing some changes, with a novel combination of complications driven by a new movement. The ref.5990/1A is equipped with the automatic CH 28-520 C FUS calibre powering the chronograph function along with a dual-time display backed by a dual day/night indication. In accordance with Patek’s customary approach to GMT, the timezone adjustments are made using two large left-side pushers at 8 and 10 o’clock. These are cleverly integrated into the characteristic design of the Nautilus which features a bulge at that precise spot and which thus serves a functional purpose in this model. Thus equipped, the 5990 becomes a steel complicated chronograph that is both sporty and practical. Patek Philippe takes its audience by surprise in this departure from its traditionalist image.
The rest of this year's launches are new variations within existing ranges. Among the most appealing isthe noteworthy appearance of a honey-coloured dial on ref. 5159, a retrograde date perpetual calendar model. It is tastefully teamed with a chestnut brown alligator leather strap and features several other modifications including the discreet circle framing the moon-phase indication. This choice embodies the new focus on taking details to fresh heights of perfection being pursued by Patek Philippe since Sandrine Stern took up her duties as creative director. Chances are the 175th commemorative collections will also be imbued with this mindset.