Are you familiar with Patek Philippe’s Ref 5205? You know the one. Mirror polish, white gold case with stunning gradient blue dial. Annual calendar display via three apertures. It’s a stunning watch and one that’s hard to miss on the wrist. In fact, that variation is among the most contemporary of Patek’s complicated timepieces. In my humble opinion at least. And yet, the Ref 5205 is also one of those watches that trades at close to retail on the secondary market. Not that its retail price is cheap mind you. Still, for those lucky enough to be in the market for their first complicated Patek, it’s a great option. If a sometime overlooked one. There are also two more traditional rose gold versions as well. For now, at least – but more on that later. Does all that mean the Ref 5205 is a good buy? Let’s get into the detail and you can decide for yourself.
A (Very) Brief History Of The Patek Philippe Ref 5205
Despite its contemporary styling, the Ref 5205 is not a new watch. Patek actually debuted the reference back in 2010, with two versions, both in white gold cases. The dials were dual tone, featuring silver grey or slate grey paired with matte black. This gave them somewhat of a sportier look, which was a bit at odds with their dress watch styling. Something Patek later somewhat addressed with the now discontinued Ref 5960.
I wouldn’t say the Ref 5205 was a runaway success for Patek. Not that they were producing that many of them anyway. But it performed well enough that two rose gold versions followed in 2013. These were more classic and elegant, featuring white opaline or lacquered black dials. They remain in the collection today (but not for much longer if the rumours are correct). Whereas the inaugural white gold models ceased production in 2018. Replaced by the gradient blue dial version of the Ref 5205G.
At present, you can buy the earlier model, white gold Ref 5205 for around US$46,000. Depending on condition, provenance, and so on. That’s around US$10,000 less than you would pay for the later gradient blue model. All three versions of the white gold model use the same calibre. So, it’s largely the desirability of the gradient blue dial that drives the premium. That and the fact that that it’s newer.
The Patek Philippe Ref 5205
The Ref 5205 was always targeted at a younger audience. But those earlier iterations didn’t exactly land in the way Patek wanted them to. That all changed in 2018 when the gradient blue dial version came along. In some ways, this was the brand kowtowing to the popular trend at the time. Blue dials – especially gradient ones – were, and still are, red hot. The impact was instant. Almost overnight the Ref 5205 became a lot more desirable to a much wider audience.
Presented in a 40mm x 11.36mm white gold case, the Ref 5205 is also contemporary in its sizing. While not exactly slim, it still sneaks in with dress watch like proportions. And will fit under your shirt cuff with a bit of gentle encouragement. A lot of the height comes from the high polished concave bezel. The way it slopes down and away from the dial makes the dimensions of the Ref 5205 appear bigger than they are. This is in contrast to the Ref 5396 – another Patek annual calendar – which appears flatter and more compact. Sure, it’s case is smaller at 38.5mm but it’s still 11.2mm thick. Yet the models look and wear completely different.
In keeping with the formal, dress watch aesthetic, the entire case shows a high polish. This includes the distinctive, open-worked lugs with their exaggerated downward curve. This makes the watch quite shiny. Combine that with the striking blue dial and you have a real head-turner. Which is great if you like that sort of attention but not ideal if you prefer to be a little more under the radar.
The rich gradient blue colouring of the dial is without a doubt the key highlight of the Ref 5205. Although I must admit I’m also quite partial to the lacquer black dial/rose gold case combo too. The blue sunburst pattern radiates from the center, fading to black at the periphery. Patek is well known for its gradient dials thanks to the Nautilus and other models. The Ref 5205 continues this proud tradition but also elevates it a level.
While somewhat familiar, the dial layout is also unique to the Ref 5205. Across the top half of the dial are three apertures for the annual calendar displays. Day, date and month in an easy-to-read and intuitive format. In the bottom half a subsidiary dial at 6 o’clock houses a 24-hour indicator and the moon-phase display. The central time display features dauphine-shaped hands for the hours and minutes. A long with a running seconds hand.
Unusually, on the blue dial version, the hands feature lume for night time reading. This is not the case on the rose gold versions, which are styled as more formal dress watches. This again reflects Patek’s desire to make the blue dial Ref 5205 more contemporary. Oversized applied gold baton markers denote the hours.
Inside is the self-winding Calibre 324 S QA LU 24H/206. The same movement that featured in the inaugural Ref 5205. It comprises 356 parts, including Patek’s patented Gyromax balance and Spiromax balance spring. The movement is visible through a sapphire caseback and is quite nice to look at. The 21k yellow gold central rotor is especially eye-catching. Oscillating at 28,000vph, it offers a max power reserve of 45 hours. Which by modern standards could do with some improving on. As you would expect, finishing is to the brand’s exacting standards. Naturally the movement proudly wears the Patek Philippe Seal.
Price & Availability
The recommended retail price of the Patek Philippe Ref 5205G is US$55,800. Getting one from your authorized retailer might prove a little tricky. Patek doesn’t make that many of them each year and they are quite sought after. As such, it might take some investment in the relationship to qualify for an allocation. (Also known as spending money on other watches you don’t necessarily want.) With the rose gold versions set to exit the catalogue, you can bet demand for the blue dial will increase.
There’s also the secondary market option, where prices are still reasonable (for now). For the Ref 5205G, pricing tends to range between US$55,000 – US$60,000. The rose gold versions are still a tad less at the moment but don’t expect that to last. Rumour has it that Patek is discontinuing them in Jan ’22. And we all know what tends to happen to prices in that scenario.
Is The Patek Philippe Ref 5205 A Good Buy?
As mentioned, word on the street is that the brand will soon be discontinuing the rose gold models. Does that mean now is the time to buy? Well, if trends are anything to go by, prices will likely go up upon confirmation of the rumours. At least in the near term. How much of that will be down to speculators though is tough to say.
It’s also hard to know how much of that is already baked into current pricing on the secondary market. After all, the Ref 5205 has been around for over a decade. But its price on the secondary market has only started to show upward momentum in the past 6 months or so. Part of that could be down to the red hot market for watches in general at present. In other words, a rising tide lifts all boats.
That said, the Ref 5205R is an excellent watch for what it is. And at current prices – circa US$55,000 – it still makes sense to me. Would I pay a 20% premium on top of that due to the hype factor? No. I do expect though that we’ll also start to see prices rise on the Ref 5205G. Even though it’s still in the current catalogue. Reasons being is that it is the more popular model, it’s more distinct and now it’s the last example standing. Which would suggest that at some point Patek is planning to replace it too. At which point, prices will likely explode.
So, what may seem like a lot of money now, could seem like a bargain in a few years’ time. I can’t predict one way or another of course. But we have seen this type of situation before with Patek. Which is why I think the Patek Philippe Ref 5205 is a good buy. But that’s just me. I’d love to hear your thoughts too.
Technical Specifications: Patek Philippe Ref 5205G Annual Calendar
- Case: 40mm x 11.36mm height – white gold, polished – sapphire crystal on both sides – 30m water resistance.
- Dial: Blue sunburst, black gradated – concave polished fixed bezel – baton markers – luminous dauphine-shaped hands – hour, minutes and seconds – Annual Calendar display complete with 24-hour indicator and moonphase.
- Movement: Calibre 324 S QA LU 24H/206, in-house, Patek Philippe Seal – automatic with 21k gold central rotor – 28,800vph – 35h to 45h power reserve – 356 parts.
- Bracelet: Alligator with square scales, hand-stitched, shiny black. Prong buckle..
- Price: USD55,800.