Albert Ganjei is a huge Patek Philippe fan, and the brand is by far the most common in his collection. He also has a special affinity for Patek’s perpetual calendars, and in particular, has long admired the 5050. But soon after falling in love with the model, he found that wanting a 5050 and obtaining one are two very different things. His journey to find his 5050 had some ups and downs—including almost purchasing an “unworn” example that was actually riddled with rust—but eventually, he was able to obtain the excellent example you see here. Like most things, it’s that which we work the hardest for that we most appreciate, and this is one watch that he has no intention of letting go of. This is Alber Ganjei’s Patek Philippe 5050P Retrograde Perpetual Calendar in platinum.
The 5050 was launched at the Basel Fair in 1993 and was Patek Philippe’s first-ever retrograde perpetual calendar. It was only produced for about nine years in a few different precious metals and series. The total production is estimated to be about 1,100 pieces, but the majority of those are in yellow gold, followed by rose and white. This watch being a second series in platinum, is exceptionally rare, with an estimate of around 150 examples existing.
While it came out in 1993, the design of the watch could easily pass as being from the middle of the century. The case size is more in line with vintage dress watch sizes at 35mm, and the dimpled pearled minute divisions and typeface used for the word “Automatic” inside the moon phase stand out to me as reminiscent of older Patek’s. Incidentally, the “Automatic” text is also a telltale sign that this is a second series 5050, as are the baton hour markers. The first series had Roman numerals and no automatic text. In general, I find most perpetual calendars have a “wise beyond their years” thing going on that makes their actual age hard to peg, but with the retrograde complication and simplistic design on this 5050P, that stands out even more so.
The dial is reserved but not boring. I especially love its liberal use of blue. The second’s hand, date hand, and moon phase all appear to use the same shade, and it looks great in contrast to the opaline-grey dial. The layout is well balanced with the leap year indicator at 12, month at 3, moon phase at 6, and day at 9. However, the marque complication with this watch is the retrograde date. The date spans from 8 to 4 on the dial and balances out the visual weight of the moon phase.
If you’re not familiar with the retrograde complication, you’re in for a treat. The way it works is the date advances from the first to the last day of the month per usual, but with a retrograde movement, you get a grand finale. On the last day of the month, at the stroke of midnight, the date hand resets and smoothly flows backward to the first again. It’s a small but whimsical touch of horological theater that adds a lot of charm and will make night owls of any retrograde owner lest they miss the show.
Inside the watch is the in-house automatic caliber 315/136. It’s beautifully finished and visible through the display caseback, and while the dial of the watch is traditional, the movement is relatively modern. It has 31 jewels, a straight-line lever escapement, a Kif shock protection device, and includes a Gyromax balance. Also notable on this caliber is its Geneva hallmark denoting the movement, and its finishing is of the highest quality. This is important from a collector standpoint because Patek no longer uses this hallmark and has since replaced it with their own. While there is no measurable difference in quality between the two stamps, it increases the collectibility of watches with the now discontinued Geneva hallmark.
This is a beautiful example of a 5050P and could be the crown jewel in a lot of collections. It’s an especially rare version of a stunning and complicated timepiece. It has all the charm of a vintage watch without being so old that you’re afraid to wear it out of the house. It’s easy to see why this is one of Albert’s favorites. Also, if you’re going to collect Patek Phillipe, you kind of have to have a good perpetual calendar in your rotation. This is an excellent choice to fill that role, and I agree with Albert when he says, “This one’s a keeper.”