Patek Ref. 5131P – an owner’s review

The Patek Philippe Ref. 5131P is already an icon. I am grateful to the “Watch Professor” for providing this “Owner’s Review” of the watch. The “Watch Professor” brings both expertise as well as decades of experience as an owner of Patek Philippe watches.

The Art of Patek Philippe, April 1989, and on the cover of this fabled auction, one yellow gold Patek world time ref. 2523 HU. A love affair began. I had never seen such a beautiful watch, and dreamed that one day I would be the owner of such an extraordinary watch.

It was a fantasy of course, the ref 2523HU with cloisonné enamel dial is one of the most prized possessions and regularly shatters prices at auction. Patek didn’t even have a world time in its own portfolio at the time.

Hope began with the launch of the ref. 5110, the first world time for 35 years. This was then superceded in 2006 by the ref. 5130, essentially the same watch but 2mm bigger. This morphed into the ref. 5131. The first cloisonné enamel dial since the esteemed 2523. It was an instant hit. A modern day unicorn – rare as hen’s teeth.

My dreams could finally be realised, or at least there was hope. The yellow gold 5131 was followed by white gold and rose gold models and everyone was eagerly awaiting the platinum. This was perhaps the most anticipated Patek in recent history. Patek had never before done a world time cloisonné in platinum (not to my knowledge, though rumours persist of a legendary 2523 in platinum).

Every collector was hotly debating what the map would be like on the 5131P.

What happened was Patek completely took everybody by surprise. It was the North Pole! And it was on a platinum bracelet, which was initially met with mixed feelings by many. Yes, the bracelet was controversial – many expressing a preference for a leather band. However, in general, collectors received the enamel warmly.

Once the initial impulsive and very emotional reactions had been expressed, collectors began to appreciate  that cold as ice north pole married itself beautifully to the ice cold lustre of that platinum case AND bracelet. As one esteemed collector put it – “The Ice King is born”.  Ice King – the perfect description.

Heft, and weight, are words that immediately came to my mind when I tried it on in Basel. It was love at first sight. The Ice King is HEAVY, it is a behemoth of a watch. Trust me you know it’s on your wrist. The bracelet is sublime. It has to be one of the most comfortable bracelets I have ever had on my wrist. And yes, it has wrist presence like you wouldn’t believe. The cloisonné enamel dial is just divine. It captures in art the essence of the North Pole. What you have is Da Vinci on your wrist. It really is that good. The Ice King is truly the king of modern Patek world timers.

The first ever enamel-dial world time in platinum from Patek Philippe

The 5131p Ice King is a revolutionary piece. It is, as far as I know, the first platinum world time on a platinum bracelet. And certainly the first serially produced world time in platinum with a cloisonné enamel dial. The 5131p has also broken the mould by depicting a view of the Earth from above, perhaps a timely reminder of the consequences of our actions for global warming!  (Luckily mine has more snow). The 5131p Ice King, is bizarrely under the radar. I know this probably sounds like a contradiction, given the waiting lists and premium, but when a 5711p can go for £250,000, I truly believe the modest 20% premium on the 5131p represents a sagacious acquisition. Once it’s gone…….and that undoubtedly will be by next March…. it may become untouchable.

The first ever world time with a platinum bracelet from Patek Philippe

The 5131 series is unique. The protected crown guards and 39mm gave it an inherent sporty character, unlike its elegant replacement the ref 5231. The ref. 5231 is unequivocally a dress watch. It’s hardly surprising many collectors have ordered their gold models on bracelets.  For me the 5131 is the modern day Paul Newman – it’s all about wrist presence, easily identifiable and a dial to die for.

The 5131p was my grail. The dream watch. Often grails can be a let-down, dreams smashed. Not for me, it exceeded all expectations and the best part is, it puts a smile on my face every time I look at it.

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