Patek Philippe has established itself as one of the premier watchmakers of all time. This prestige was solidified by producing such pieces like the Patek Philippe 5016P-018 Minute Repeater Tourbillon Retrograde Perpetual Calendar, a true masterpiece of mechanical engineering. These complications are a feat of their own, but doing them together in such a small package adds a whole other level of horological prestige.
The Patek 5016 series initially launched in 1993 and was the most complicated wristwatch Patek Philippe produced for many years. It finally lost that title when the brand created the Patek Philippe 5002P Sky Moon Tourbillon, released in 2001. Several variations of the Patek 5016 series came out throughout its years, but this particular version in platinum was initially released in 1999. The only way to get a piece like this was by submitting an application to the brand, and it would be produced and allocated based solely on those applications. This series continued until 2011, when it was replaced by the Patek 5216, which used the same caliber; however, it had a new case and dial design. For the Only Watch auction in 2015, the Patek 5016 had a brief revival when the brand submitted a stainless steel piece unique as its contribution. It was a massive success and sold for 7.3 million Swiss Francs, claiming the title of most expensive wristwatch ever sold up till that time. Today, Patek Philippe produces the 5316 series, the newest iteration of the series that uses the same caliber but contemporary design aesthetics.
This entirely platinum timepiece has such a presence despite its smaller size. The 37mm case is much more traditional in size, but its 13mm case thickness gives it a feeling of not being such a small piece. Every element of the case construction is meticulously designed and finished. One can see many steps to the fully polished case. Several curves adorn the case due to the rounded bezel, rounded middle case, and rounded caseback. Very crisp angles form where the turn-down lugs are welded to the case. The minute repeater slide has a perfectly formed channel that guides the slide and keeps it in place as it is activated. At the bottom of this case, there is a small diamond between the lugs, which signifies that this is a platinum timepiece for those who know. Lastly, a black alligator strap holds this watch to the wrist and features a platinum deployment buckle with the Calatrava cross engraved into the clasp.
The jet black dial with the white gold applied Breguet numbers and white gold dots for the minute’s track give a black tie formality to this timepiece. Then the white retrograde date and matching luminous white Feuille leaf indicator pointing to those date numerals pop drastically against the black dial. This timepiece features “observatoire” style hour hands indicate the time, but are designed to not entirely block the date numerals when passing over them. The center of the dial features a large prominent printed white logo, and in the moon phase indicator at 6 o’clock, the word “Tourbillon” is written, which alludes to the specialness of this movement. Apertures that feature black on white backgrounds found at 9, 12, and 3 o’clock indicate the day, leap year, and month respectively. All in all, the dial and case are both complex yet incredibly refined, offering many details for onlookers to admire.
The Patek Philippe Caliber R TO 27 PS QR manual winding movement is powering this masterpiece. A few aspects genuinely stand out in this movement. First, the large “Octopus” wheel drives the power from the tourbillon to the movement. It has affectionately been nicknamed that because of the wavy spokes on the gear that resembles what many think looks like an octopus despite not having eight in total. Next, the tourbillon is held in place with a large black polished bridge spanning the bottom of this caliber. The top of the caliber has the Calatrava cross engraved and given a golden embellishment, which like the previously mentioned elements, stands out against the silver of the caliber. Next to the Calatrava cross are the black polished hammers for the minute repeater, which one can watch strike the gong when the repeater is activated.
This version has received the Patek hallmark on the movement, proudly displaying that this caliber is assembled and finished to its highest standards. Many finishes can be seen throughout this movement, such as the circular stripping on the bridges, the perlage on the base plate, and every edge having a mirror polish bevel. When fully wound, the power reserve lasts 48 hours. The movement held the title of most complex movement, assembled out of 506 parts and 28 jewels. It is highly robust and has an anti-shock system and monometallic balance adjusted for isochronism and five positions.
Versus The Competition
While this Patek 5016P could easily be compared to another Patek like the Patek Philippe 5207P Minute Repeater Tourbillon Perpetual Calendar because of the exact same complications, there is also an F.P. Journe that deserves just as much thought and focus. The F.P. Journe Astronomic Souveraine Tourbillon Minute Repeater is at the same level of stratospheric complexity, and may even be more impressive to some enthusiasts. Like the Patek 5016, the Journe Astronomic Souveriane was the brand’s most complex watch to date upon its release. This Journe features 18 complications in total, a day/night indicator, a power reserve indicator, and an equation of time, just to name a few. Like the Patek 5016, this F.P. Journe also includes a tourbillon visible from the back and a minute repeater. While the Journe is technically more complicated, it was released more than 20 years after this Patek 5016P, which should count for something, as the technical expertise has increased rapidly in those years.
The person who seeks a piece like this is an enthusiast of the highest caliber of mechanical engineering. This is for the collector who has everything, and this is genuinely a grail of grails model. Seeking out a timepiece like the Patek 5016P is not something most collectors will ever be able to do, and it will most likely just be a dream watch that most collectors hope to just view one day. For those able to obtain such a timepiece, it could absolutely be the coup de grace of the watch collection.
The Patek Philippe 5016P-018 is a perfect watch to showcase why many collectors think of Patek as the pinnacle of watchmaking and the top of the holy trinity. Fitting all these high complications into this watch at this level of precision, finishing, and expertise is a true feat and not something to be taken lightly. This watch deserves the utmost respect from any watch enthusiast and will surely capture the attention of even those who do not know anything about it.