This is the Patek Philippe Ref 5320G Perpetual Calendar. One of the most unassuming Grand Complication pieces you will ever see from the brand. Its arrival in 2017 caused quite a stir, thanks in no small part to its distinctive style. Contemporary “vintage”, as Patek likes to call it. Which, while on trend for the wider market, was somewhat out of character for the Geneva house. Which is exactly what makes this piece so interesting. To the casual observer, the Ref 5320G looks much like any other vintage re-issue. And yet, it’s a Grand Complication. From the foundational member of the Holy Trinity. (Or ‘Big Three’ if you prefer.) Plus, it’s not as expensive as you might think. Especially if you buy preowned.
A (Very) Brief History Of The Ref 5320G Perpetual Calendar
You might assume that the Ref 5320G is a reissue of an existing Patek watch from decades since past. A reasonable assumption given the industry’s love affair with doing exactly that. Still, an incorrect one. It’s a new watch through and through but one that draws inspiration from Patek’s rich past. Particularly models from the Patek Philippe Museum from the 1940s and 1950s. Patek launched the world’s first wristwatch with a perpetual calendar in 1925. Making the brand something of an authority on the complication. In 1941, the Ref 1526 made its debut. The brand’s first regular production Perpetual Calendar without a chronograph. Establishing a legible perpetual calendar dial layout that Patek has used ever since. This comprises a double aperture for the date and month displays at 12 o’clock. And a sub-dial at 6 o’clock for the radial date and moon phase. Later models, such as the Ref 5320G, also include two round apertures for the day/night and leap year cycles.
Another subtle feature from the archives are the Art Deco style three-tiered lugs. These come from the Patek Philippe Ref. 2405, a popular model from over 60 years ago. Likewise, the stepped bezel is reminiscent of the rare Ref 3499. And the luminous, syringe-style hands – a polarising design choice – come from piece unique ref 1591. And so, you see, even though the Ref 5320G is a new watch, there is still a lot of history here. So, let’s get into more of the detail.
The Patek Philippe Ref 5320G Perpetual Calendar
In spite of its vintage aesthetic, Patek opted for a modern-sized case for the Ref 5320G. Much to the disappointment of purists. Measuring 40mm in diameter by 11.13mm thick, it is only available in white gold. It’s fair to say many would have preferred something in the 36mm – 38mm range, but the brand had other plans. Still, the Ref 5320G is a very wearable watch, sitting flat against the wrist.
In appearance though, the piece itself is anything but flat. The case is well-executed, with lots of interesting details to appreciate. I touched on the three-tiered lugs already. And the stepped bezel. The high polish finishing of the case brings these elements to life. Helping to create a real sense of depth. A sensation which is further emphasised by the cambered sapphire crystal. It features parallel inner and outer sides to prevent optical distortion. This means the dial will always look clear regardless of the viewing angle. One of the criticisms of the Ref 5320G though is that it uses a stamped case. That means a machine has punched out the case shape from a single piece of gold. Now at this price point you may expect something handmade. Or at least hand assembled. But Patek’s view is that if there is a better technical way to do something, they will. And people who are far better informed than I on these sorts of things seem to agree. Pressing and polishing an unusual design like this takes exceptional expertise and skill. Granted, the thought of someone programming a machine is not as romantic. But still, you cannot dispute the expert craftmanship and know-how involved.
With a distinct ‘vintage’ look and feel to it, the Ref 5320G makes a statement on the wrist. At the base is a brass dial, covered in a rich, cream color lacquer with a nice glossy finish. It’s meant to look aged, like an impossibly perfect patina. Which again, some find a bit derivative. Patek is not known for kowtowing to trends, but sometimes you’ve got to give the people what they want. Regardless this bold – even unusual – choice works with this watch. Around the periphery, Arabic numerals made of black-coated 18k gold mark the hours. The round five-minute markers and the sharp-tipped syringe hands are in the same material. As you can see, they jump out against the cream dial, ensuring excellent legibility. It’s an acquired taste though and the aesthetic won’t be for everyone.
Refined over decades, the dial lay-out is intuitive and very easy to read. Beneath twelve o’clock are two apertures, one for the day and the other for the month. A sub-dial above six o’clock houses a moon-phase display as well as the date. The day/night indicator sits between seven and eight o’clock. While the leap-year indicator is on the other side between four and five o’clock. Subtle, non-intrusive touches that help make the Patek Philippe Ref 5320G Perpetual Calendar the complete package.
Turn the watch over and you will discover a nice view of the cal. 324 S Q, a self-winding calibre with a perpetual calendar module on top. This is the calibre of choice for Patek Philippe’s Annual Calendars. As such, the movement architecture here is similar to that of the ref 5270 chronograph. Which features more or less the same dial lay-out for the calendar indications. The self-winding movement features the manufacturer’s Gyromax balance and Spiromax spring. It beats at a modern 4Hz and delivers a max 45-hour power reserve. The perpetual calendar module is not visible via the sapphire case back. Instead it sits under the dial side of the watch. Four disks, each turning at different rates, display the day, month, leap year and day/night cycle. If the watch runs without stopping, the moon phase will need adjusting once every 122 years.
Finishing of the movement is to a high standard, in line with the requirements of the Patek Philippe seal. The top surfaces of the bridges feature Geneva striping and gold-filled engravings. While the edges show polished chamfers. The screw heads are also polished. Painstaking work that is all done by hand. The unidirectional rotor is in 21k gold. It’s adorned with perlage and circular Geneva waves. And, of course, an engraved Calatrava cross. As nice as the finishing is though, it is not that elaborate. At least when compared to its closest competitor, the Langematik Perpetual. That said, Lange has earned great renown for the finishing of its movements. With lots of flourishes and hand engraving. Not that Patek isn’t also capable of this type of work but on the Ref 5320G the look is a little more utilitarian. You can also opt to change the sapphire case back to a solid white gold one.
Price & Availability
Recommended retail of the Patek Philippe Ref 5320G is US$82,800. Which is a lot of money. But it’s competitive with its peers. The ALS Langematik is around US$84k. Keep in mind though that this is a Grand Complication. Aka the crème de la crème of Patek Philippe timepieces. Hence the price premium. It seems reasonable to assume also that Patek isn’t making too many of these each year. Single digit production even. So even though you might see one at the boutique, you won’t be able to buy it without some sort of customer history. Patek is pretty particularly about who they sell their high-end pieces too. Or at least that’s the company line. These sometimes come up on the secondary market as well. And usually you can expect to pay a bit below retail. Our retail partner WatchBox currently has this one available for US$74,950, ex taxes. (Affiliate link.)
Is It Collectible?
This is an interesting question with no clear answer. First, this is a modern watch, still in production. Second, although a grand complication, it doesn’t represent any significant advancement for Patek. That said, it is also a very unusual piece. Look through the current catalogue and you won’t find too many vintage-inspired models. The cream dial. Art-deco style lugs. Not to mention the lume-filled syringe hands. The Ref 5320G is about as far as Patek deviates from conventional design. Particularly with its grand complication pieces.
Some detractors will argue it is a bit derivative. And maybe they have a point. But I’m not convinced. The blend of historic references with contemporary execution works. In my opinion, at least. And offers something that stands out without being gaudy or in-your-face. From what I hear, the Ref 5320G landed well with collectors as well. Sure, it might not appreciate in value in the same way as some of the hype pieces of the day. At least not in the short term. But that’s common for high-end, complicated pieces. The Ref 5960P trades below retail on the secondary market. As does the Ref 5170.
These pieces are celebrations of fine watchmaking. If they appreciate in value over time, great. But that’s not the reason to buy one.
Technical Specifications: Patek Philippe Ref 5320G Perpetual Calendar
- Case: 40mm x 11.13mm height – white gold, polished – tnterchangeable full back and sapphire-crystal case back – 30m water resistance.
- Dial: Lacquered cream dial – gold applied numerals with luminescent coating – syringe-shaped hands, lume-filled.
- Movement: Caliber 324 S Q – in-house – self-winding – perpetual calendar – Day, month, leap year and day/night indication in apertures – date by hand – sweep seconds hand – 45 hour max power reserve – Patek Philippe Seal.
- Bracelet: Alligator strap with square scales – hand-stitched – shiny chocolate brown – fold-over clasp.
- Price: USD82,800.
This article by TheWatchLounge has been sponsored by our partner WatchBox.