This is the Patek Philippe Ref 5146 Annual Calendar. Elegant, understated and practical, it’s the classic Patek for everyday wear. No, it’s not a sports watch. And no, the case is not in steel. (Nor will you pay a ridiculous premium for either of those privileges.) Rather it blurs the lines between casual wear and formal dress. Wear it to the office, the bar or a cocktail party, it’s got versatility in spades. Plus, the case size is such that it’s comfortable to have on the wrist all day and night. Yet, you you’re not going to see this model plastered all over Instagram. It’s got a fanbase sure, but the Ref 5146 is no hypebeast. Which suits those who like to stay under the radar without compromising on quality. Or brand power.
A (Very) Brief History Of The Patek Philippe Ref 5146
Like all annual calendar watches from Patek, the story of the Ref 5146 starts with the Ref 5035. That was the very first annual calendar reference from the brand. It was also the one that debuted the annual calendar complication to the market. The process of creating a new complication started back in 1991 and took close to five years to perfect. A logical progression of the perpetual calendar, the concept caught on quick. Especially given its simplified functionality.
It also filled a gap in Patek’s pricing hierarchy. Giving collectors a viable option between classic Calatravas and Grand Complications. The so-called “smaller complications” strategy of the mid-90s. As such, Patek created the Ref 5035 to be suitable for everyday wear. The round case measures 37mm in diameter with sloping lugs. While the dial somehow manages to display all calendar indications without looking crowded. An impressive achievement, although the Roman numeral aesthetic has not aged well. At least for my tastes.
The Ref 5035 was soon followed by the Ref 5036 in 1998, which introduced a moonphase at 6 o’clock. (Marking the first ever pairing of that complication with an Annual Calendar.) And a power reserve indicator at 12 o’clock. It also had a gorgeous, beads-of-rice metal bracelet that was a big hit. And in fact, years later it would inspire the bracelet on the steel Ref 5960. With its 36mm case size though, things on the dial were starting to become a little…compact. Still legible but not much in the way of breathing room.
At some point, the market feedback for a larger case size reached Patek and the Ref 5146 made its debut. A model that in some ways, offers the best of all worlds.
The Patek Philippe Ref 5146
Replacing Patek’s first Annual Calendar watch in 2005, the Ref 5146 had some big shoes to fill. Metaphorically speaking at least. But rather than do anything too ambitious, the brand focused on refining its offering. Presented in yellow or white gold (later followed by platinum and rose gold) the case grew to 39mm. Still practical for daily wear but more reflective of tastes and trends of the time. The extra space also opened up some breathing room on the dial.
Patek improved on this further by removing the Roman numeral hour markers. Instead, the Ref 5146 features a more contemporary dial design, with Arabic numerals at 3, 9 and 12 o’clock. The date is still shown via an aperture at 6 o’clock. In a welcome decision, the brand kept the moon phase and power reserve indicator from the Ref 5036. Although the latter features a more elegant and refined layout.
You will also notice that the hour and minute hands are lume-filled. And there are also luminous dots at the top of each hour marker in the railway chapter ring. This is most unusual on a dress watch, especially one from Patek, but it’s a carry-over from the Ref 5035. And a welcome one at that. Remember, the impetus for these watches was functionality and practicality for daily wear. It’s the same reason there is a central running seconds hand. Something you would never see on a Perpetual Calendar.
The most recent movement in the Ref 5146 is the in-house Calibre 324 S IRM QA LU. Although earlier versions ran on the Calibre 315. It uses the Calibre 324 S C as its base, one of Patek’s most prolific. You’ll find it in the Nautilus and the Aquanaut, amongst others. This particular iteration features an annual calendar, moonphase and power reserve. Beating at a standard 28,800 vph the self-winding movement offers a 45 hour max power reserve. It’s visible through a sapphire caseback and has a nice level of finishing. Although there’s nothing particularly novel about this movement.
The Ref 5146 comes on either a Patek Philippe link bracelet in the same metal as the case, or a leather strap. The bracelet shows a high polish and sits very well on the wrist indeed. Although it does make the watch considerably less “under the radar”.
Price & Availability
The Ref 5146 is no longer available from authorized retailers, as production ended in 2019. There’s the diamond-adorned Ref 5147G of course, but that’s a different beast. As such, your only bet is the secondary market, where they are still quite well priced. And somewhat readily available. Prices range from US$39,000 – US$49,000 for the gold cases. And it should come as no surprise that you will pay a premium for the full gold bracelet. The platinum versions are a bit rarer and as such command another step up in price.
Is The Patek Philippe Ref 5146 A Good Buy?
I tend to think that the Ref 5146 doesn’t get the love or recognition it deserves. At 39mm it’s the perfect size for daily wear, plus it’s practical and easy to read. Sure, it’s not a steel sports watch and yes, its aesthetic is a little on the traditional side. But to my eyes the Ref 5146 is still quite contemporary. It’s got some character to it and whilst it may not be a “significant” watch, there is real history behind it.
Will it start getting more attention from collectors priced out on other watches? Definitely. It’s only a matter of time (pardon the pun). Will the reference see massive appreciation in value as a result? It doesn’t seem likely, but you never know. I would say you’re very unlikely to lose value on it though. Plus, you can’t go wrong buying a watch that you can actually wear and enjoy. From one of the most reputable and desirable brands on the planet no less. That’s my view at least. Feel free to share your thoughts below.
Technical Specifications: Patek Philippe Ref 5146 Annual Calendar
- Case: 39mm x 11.18mm height – white, rose or yellow gold, or platinum – polished – sapphire crystal on both sides – 30m water resistance.
- Dial: cream or grey lacquered – polished fixed bezel – Arabic numerals with Baton markers – leaf-shaped hands – hour, minutes and seconds – Annual Calendar display on subdials complete with power reserve and moonphase.
- Movement: Calibre 324 S IRM QA LU, in-house, Patek Philippe Seal – automatic with 21k gold central rotor – 28,800vph – 35h to 45h power reserve.
- Bracelet: Full metal bracelet or alligator leather strap with fold-over clasp.
- Price: approx. USD39,000 – USD49,000 depending on model, condition etc.