When I first bought the Reference 5650G, I knew I was going to like the watch. What I didn’t know was that it was going to become my favourite modern Patek Philippe. As a collector, I think the greatest pleasure in watch collecting is this type of unexpected pleasure.
Within the very broad range of Patek Philippe watches, there is usually a variant that catches my attention. For example, my idea of perfection for a perpetual calendar is the 3448J. Within Calatrava, the 3417A is the epitome for me. Similarly, when it comes to split second chronographs, it takes a lot to beat the 5370P for me. I like diversity, and having a watch with a specific complication adds enormously to my pleasure as a collector. Yet, within my collection up until the 5650G, I did not own an Aquanaut. When I saw it, I knew that this was going to be an important watch for me. The question is why?
I think it is an article in itself to elaborate on “why” I buy specific watches. It is certainly the case that a watch needs to tick a lot of boxes for me to buy it. One box that most certainly needs to be ticked is “originality.” By that, I do not mean authenticity. Rather, what I mean is that I want the watch to have some feature about it that makes it unusual and original. I love rare watches. When I put a rare watch on my wrist, a frisson of energy runs through me and it is an exciting feeling. Patek Philippe made just 500 of the 5650G. It is a rare watch. Of course, rarity of supply always needs to be judged in the context of prevailing demand. Picasso painted a lot more paintings than I have. Yet, demand for his stuff more than compensates for that extra supply. Nobody wants a painting from me. But people surely do want the 5650G! I have observed new releases from Patek Philippe for many years. Very few have ever seen the statospheric rise in price from release that has been seen with the 5650G. From a retail price of £42,800 in April 2017, the lowest current price on the secondary market is just over £160,000. In my experience, few watches have seen such a stratospheric increase over such a short period of time. Yes….. that frisson of energy is important.
Is the 5650G the perfect casual watch?
However, I would be more than a bit shallow if the only thing that was important about a watch was its rarity. Originality can take many forms. The 5650G has many. First and foremost, it comes from the Advanced Research Department of Patek Philippe. I have previously reviewed this watch and described the Advanced Research wing as the equivalent of the James Bond “Q” department. Watches from this department are released only very sporadically and always have “Advanced Research” printed on the dial.
Two key features can be mentioned with respect to the technology embedded in the 5650G. First, there is the new spiromax balance spring that allows a constant rate deviation regardless of the orientation of the watch. Second, there is the time zone correction that has a flexible mechanism in steel with absolutely no mechanical play (thereby obviating the need for lubrication). Combined, these innovations create a movement that is both more reliable and more accurate. Typical accuracy standards suggest a deviation of -2/+2 per day. The 5650G achieves an official -1/+2 per day. More accurate. More reliable. It is not hard to imagine that these innovations will become a bigger and bigger part of future production. And it started with the 5650G
White metal. Blue dial. Mesmerising effect
Another feature of the 5650G is the cut-out dial. It is very unusual for Patek Philippe to adopt this feature on a dial. I can’t think of another example of this type. The cutout shows the innovation. Patek Philippe are drawing direct attention to what they must consider to be something quite important in terms of horological development. The cutout reveals the adjustment mechanism. There are no gears. No pivots. No need for lubrication. The parts, albeit stunningly small, are all hand-finished. The cutout creates a dial that is most unusual.
For Patek, the cutout dial is highly unusual
Cased in white gold contrasting against a stunningly vibrant blue dial with the inset movement visible through the dial, this watch boasts a tremendous aesthetic. Nicknamed the “Terminator” after the Schwarzenegger film, this watch has developed a cult status within the Patek Philppe genre. It is, for me, the perfect casual watch. It ticks so many boxes of interest for me that I should not be surprised that it became my favourite modern Patek watch.