The Patek Philippe Nautilus Perpetual Calendar 5740-1G watch hands-on
Even those who are not so much familiar with the world of watch-making are aware of what the figures 5 and 7 mean when they are associated with the initials PP of Patek Philippe. At Baselworld 2018, the Geneva-based brand presented a new version of its iconic (and hard-to-get) Nautilus, thus entering with its new proposal of a perpetual sports calendar watch the territory that the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak RD # 2 Perpetual Calendar Ultra-Thin had entered back in January and that the Vacheron Constantin Overseas Ultra-Thin Perpetual Calendar had entered two years before that.
The main features – a quick overview of this timepiece.
Despite the big complication used that is generally associated with more classic models and the "haute-horlogerie" world, the Patek Philippe Perpetual Calendar 5740/1G is a Nautilus in all respects with all those details that have guaranteed the success of this collection. Ranging from the octagonal shape with the rounded corners of the case to the classic pattern of the dial the Patek Philippe Perpetual Calendar 5740/1G does not objectively lack anything at all. Although the size of the case is quite typical for this series (40mm in width or 44.05mm if we consider the crown too and 44.3mm in length), the material used to craft this timepiece - white gold - is slightly less typical and so is its thickness of only 8,42mm that makes it an ultra-thin watch even if it does not reach the record-setting thickness of the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak RD # 2 Perpetual Calendar Ultra-Thin.
This feature is not trivial when it comes to a perpetual calendar - a complication that requires a non-negligible development of mechanics in a vertical direction. The caliber hosted within is the 240Q; a self-winding caliber with a micro-rotor, 48h of power reserve, 27 rubies, 21,600 oscillations per hour and, of course, the Patek Philippe seal (an internal certification awarded to all the brand’s watches). The different indicators of the perpetual calendar are cleverly grouped together and displayed in pairs within each other. At 6 o'clock is the moon phases indicator that is hosted within the date, at 9 o'clock there is an indicator of the 24-hour time inserted within the counter for the week days, while at 3 o'clock there is an indicator of the leap year inserted within the month counter.
There are two details that really struck a chord with me and that make this Patek Philippe Perpetual Calendar 5740/1G quite a fascinating watch; the attention in displaying the perpetual calendar functions and the blue tone of the dial. A perpetual calendar, as such, provides very different information (from the day of the week to the leap year). Finding the right balance between readability, elegance and organizing these pieces of information that are linked to the mechanical architecture of the calibre, is not simple at all, but Patek can count on skilled masters and this is something that everybody knows already. The real question to ask, however, is as follows; why does the dial give such a sense of balance, even on a complicated timepiece like this one?
The answer lies in the meticulous work on the different symmetries. Symmetry is a "technique" that is often used in art to convey a sense of rigor, order and visual clarity and when it is combined with a careful study of proportions you can achieve a greater sense of harmony. This concept goes back to what I wrote in the review of the Vacheron Constantin Historiques Triple Calendrier 1942 and 1948; starting from Mirone from Eleutère, passing through Michelangelo and Canova, proportions and symmetries have always allowed artists to craft artworks above time that fully embody the concept of perfection and harmony. Patek reinterpreted these values in watch-making in my opinion and in a sporty manner. It is the same technique Patek Philippe adopts each time it crafts a calendar (and a Nautilus), as it is with the Patek Philippe Nautilus 5726/1A-014, for example, introduced at Baselworld 2019.
An interesting detail lies in the difference between the 24-hour-indicator and the leap-year-indicator (i.e. the concentric counters located on the left and on the right, respectively). The numbers on the two scales are staggered by 45 degrees from each other, thus creating an even more attractive and balanced dial. With regard to the decorations on the dial, a special technique was used that gives the Patek Philippe Perpetual Calendar 5740/1G the so called “degradé effect”, but the shade of blue chosen on this occasion is slightly different.
It is neither as dark as on a 5711 nor overly bright and electric as on the 5976 Anniversary. It is a half way that doesn’t really show much on the renderings available online but that is actually quite interesting when seen live and it is quite evident on our photos. It perfectly combines with the brightness and brilliance of white gold and it manages not to stand out too much, but rather to capitalize on the whole watch by creating a fantastic combination.
What about a Nautilus perpetual calendar?
Getting your hands on a Patek Philippe Perpetual Calendar 5740/1G at its standard retail price (and in a reasonable timeframe) is extremely difficult and it takes several years on a waiting list. It is interesting to note that those models, where the waiting list is longer are not the super-complicated ones, like the 5204P, but rather the Nautilus, or Patek sportier collections. If you browse Instagram profiles dedicated to the world of watch-making or those of rich collectors, you would immediately realize the true value of the 5711, 5712 or 5980 references.
Those who have no experience in the watch-making world are naturally led to think that the true expression of luxury lies in these models and that contributes to generating a strong increase in demand and an inexorable lengthening of waiting lists. All the rest is due to a smart Patek Philippe distribution strategy that drives up retail prices. These are among the advantages of not being a public company, as it actually happens in the big groups of the watchmaking industry. So here is one of the reasons why Patek opted for a complication of high-end watchmaking on such a "sporty" model. A trend followed also by other brands, in addition to Audemars Piguet – last January, Vacheron Constantin launched the second version of their Overseas Perpetual Calendar.
The retail price, the availability and the possible options
The Patek Philippe Perpetual Calendar 5740/1G is a watch that, since its launch, has naturally attracted everyone's attention and has helped to further lengthen the waiting list of the Nautilus. The Nautilus is probably the most refined sports watch and certainly the most sought-after in its segment. On the wrist it is perfectly balanced, while the combination of white gold, the reduced thickness of the case and its proportions weighed with the calibre are second to none of the other Nautilus timepieces; all in all it is heavy, but not too much. All the wonderful sensations that you can experience when you wear a Nautilus are confirmed, but nothing is perfect and even the Patek Philippe Perpetual Calendar 5740/1G has two cons; the lack of availability and its retail price.
Given the complication of haute-horlogerie and the strategy adopted by Patek, very few Patek Philippe Perpetual Calendar 5740/1G will reach Italy and it is very easy to assume that there will be a speculative increase of up to 50% of the retail price on the secondary market (the retail prices starts at 109,000 euro). It's a very high price if you consider that the €-100K-retail price is the threshold to the tourbillons range and that a Vacheron Constantin Overseas Ultra-Thin Perpetual Calendar retails below the €-80K-threshold that means a generous 26% less. Unless you want to wait for this Nautilus, these are figures that you should keep into consideration.
(Photo credit: Horbiter®'s proprietary photo-shooting by Scott Sitkiewitz)
Andrea Frigerio @Horbiter®