This is Part 6 of 10 looking at an all-time Top 10 list of iconic Patek Philippe watches.
So far, the list comprises the Ref. 3700 for the Nautilus, the Ref. 5070P for the simple chronograph. For the perpetual calendar chronograph there is the Ref. 2499 and for the perpetual calendar the Ref. 3448 takes the spot. In the category of time-only Calatrava, the ref. 2526 got my vote.
Now, for the sixth addition to the list, I need an Aquanaut. How can I not include an Aquanaut in the all-time top 10 iconic watches from Patek Philippe? Without doubt, the Aquanaut is an iconic watch. However, when one looks at the various possible versions of the Aquanaut, it is actually hard to identify one that qualifies as an all-time Top 10 candidate.
Well, it would be hard if not for the Ref. 5650G.
Instantly recognisable. WIthin the Aquanaut range, the Ref. 5650G has become THE rockstar.
OK, I appreciate I may have some personal bias. But actually, when one looks at it rationally, there are very good reasons to include Ref. 5650G in an all-time icon list.
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. 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 now just over £215k. In my experience, few watches have seen such a stratospheric increase over such a short period of time. So not only is it a rare watch, it is also viewed by collectors as highly desirable.
It has been in-demand from the very first day of release. Some 3 years later, it remains every bit as hot. A long honeymoon.
Originality can take many forms. The 5650G has many facets of originality. First and foremost, it comes from the Advanced Research Department of Patek Philippe. Watches from this department are released only very sporadically and always have “Advanced Research” printed on the dial. There is something of the James Bond Q element about the Advanced Research team. I would argue that many watches that have a retailer’s name printed on the dial are imbued with an extra element of rarity. Having “Advanced Research”, to my mind, is both rarer and a notch higher.
At 500 pieces, it is rare. However, the reluctance of original owners to “flip” it remains quite unusual.
Iconic watches also tend to have pioneered something of horological significance. 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. 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
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 unique dial.
I love most versions of the Aquanaut. However, within the broad range of the model, I believe the Ref. 5650G stands out not only as an iconic Aquanaut but also as one of the all-time iconic Patek Philippe watches.
Wishing everyone a great holiday period and the very best for 2021.