Louis Cottier (1894-1966 ) was an independent watchmaker. He basically created the world time complication. Cottier worked closely with Patek Philippe and was inspirational in the development of the Ref. 515, the very first Patek Philippe world time watch, released in 1937. Since 1937, the world time complication has become something of a speciality for Patek Philippe. Indeed, even non-partisans will tend to agree that nobody executes the world time genre better than Patek Philippe.
Since 1937, Patek Philippe have devoted over 20 different references to “time travel” be that world time or travel time. It is clearly a complication that can be extremely useful. However, owners of world time watches tend to love them for many reasons, and functionality is probably not always the top of the list. Lets face it, the dial is just fascinating to look at, and for many that captures the imagination, adventure and romance of travel.
There are a lot of world time watches to review. This review will focus on the release of a unique world time complication – the Ref. 5575G, released in 2014 as a part of the 175th anniversary celebration as a limited edition of 1300 watches. In many ways, this watch combines the spirit and romance of world travel in a unique way by twinning world time and an innovative moon-phase display.
I am quite fussy about the use of the moon phase complication. Lets be honest, not many of us truly need to see a moon-phase on our watches. However, while it is not “useful” it is an aesthetic that captures a lot of imagination. A moon-phase needs to catch the spirit of the night. Rather than featuring a guilloché centre or cloisonné enamel motif, the centre of the 5575G is occupied by a large-format moon-phase display. It is the first time Patek Philippe have adopted this feature.
A unique way of portraying the moon-phase
The 5575G dial is organised into 24 time zones – each spanning 15 degrees of geographical longitude. This format dates back to the International Meridian Conference in 1884 and has remained largely unchanged since then.
The moon-phase, however, as previously stated, adopts a novel approach. To quote Patek Philippe…
“To achieve a significantly larger and more attractive depiction, Patek Philippe developed a mechanism for the World Time Moon that showcases the moon-phase display in the center of the dial. It is composed of two extremely thin, superposed glass disks. The bottom one is decorated with the nocturnal sky using an innovative metallization process. It shows a richly detailed and very large rendering of the moon. Several craters, so-called lunar maria, are faithfully reproduced with fine gray-white gradations. This disk performs one complete revolution every 29.53 days. The upper half of the second stationary disk just above it is metallized with a precisely calculated, heart-shaped contour. This mask exposes only the visible portion of the moon on the rotating disk and covers the area that in reality is darkened by the earth’s shadow.”
The display of the moon-phase marks the 5575G as unique within Patek Philippe world time watches. Nothing before and, so far, nothing since has adopted this methodology of superimposing extremely thin glass discs with colour gradations. Maybe Patek Philippe wanted to keep this as something unique to the 175th anniversary?
Another feature of the 5575G that stands out is the use of the Southern Cross hands. This style of hands is unique to Patek Philippe. Many seafarer novels refer to the Southern Cross constellation and Patek may well be using the Southern Cross hands to tie in the link between earth, moon and stars. Again, it is a small quirk that makes the 5575G different.
Another little detail that distinguishes the 5575G is the use of Geneva rather than Paris as representing Central European Time. It is not a big deal, just another nice touch that makes the 5575G different.
Details down to the winding crown continue to bring something different.
Even the winding crown brings something new to the table
So too does the case. At 39.8mm, it features a quintessentially Calatrava-style case with exquisitely turned lugs. Did Patek Philippe test this case in a wind-tunnel? Its fluid aerodynamics are something to behold. There is an elegance to this case that is very special.
Lugs turn into the case seemlessly
Cal. 240 HU LU powers this super-thin self-winding mechanism – specifically designed to allow the combination of world time and moonphase.
The Ref. 5575G is a very special watch. Obviously, it has several features that make it quite unique within the Patek Philippe stable. As a watch to wear, it also has quite a unique “feel” to it. The black of the dial contrasts with the white gold case. Within the dial, the moon and stars contrast against the black night sky of the dial. The effect is stunning.
I like most of my watches to be wearable formally and informally. With jeans as well as with a suit. The 5575G, for me, is just NOT a jeans watch. It has too much panache and sophistication. In the same way that the 5370P just looks best with a formal suit, the 5575G is too much of a star to wear casually. Yet, for me, it is a stunning world time variant and one of the most attractive watches to wear from Patek Philippe from the last decade. It is a “watch of the night.”