Some of the most special watches celebrate an important occasion. In some cases these are personal to the wearer—a promotion or a graduation, perhaps. Other times, the watch is manufactured (usually in limited quantity) to commemorate something momentous for the brand. The Patek Philippe Wempe 125th Anniversary Ref. 5125G is just such a watch. In this installment of The Collective, we’ll take a deep dive and find out what makes this celebratory timepiece worth celebrating.
In the watch world, the name Wempe is synonymous with luxury accoutrements. Wempe are a fourth generation family owned retailer of fine jewelry and watches. They are headquartered in Hamburg, Germany but have 35 stores around the world. Among these is the beautiful shop located on Fifth Avenue in New York City. Wempe prides themselves on a commitment to service, going so far as to feature certified watchmakers in each store’s service department. The company’s legacy dates back to its founding in 1878. Some of its stores offer a variety of brands while others are dedicated boutiques offering brands like A. Lange & Söhne, Rolex, or Patek Philippe exclusively. It’s that last manufacture that’s the focus of today’s article, of course. The Patek Philippe Wempe 125th Anniversary marks Wempe’s 125th anniversary and the special relationship between the two brands.
This timepiece appears at first to be elegantly simple—which it is—but it also toes the line of complexity. Its dial is decorated with clean lines; the applied white gold “boat” shaped indices, the classic white gold Dauphine hands and gold center sweep second hand, the refined dot minute/second scale, and the 18k white gold case with its sweeping crown protector all lend an understated, almost spartan feel to the design. Closer inspection, however, reveals the subtle touches that render the dial remarkable. At 12 o’clock is a stately day-month complication, just below the Patek Philippe signature; this is balanced across from the silver-framed date indicator at 6 o’clock, revealing the watch to be a triple date annual calendar.
Above this aperture is moon phase complication—but it’s not just a moon phase. Incorporated into the design is a 24 hour indicator. For a watch that appears rather unassuming (aside from being a Patek, obviously), there is a lot more happening on the dial than might first meet the eye.
All this is secured to the wrist by a handsome black alligator leather strap fastened by an 18k white gold deployment buckle.
Our discussion of the various complications featured in the dial design of this watch offers a bit of a sneak peek at the “inner workings.” It takes a serious movement to keep all those indicators ticking, and luckily, this watch has just that: the Patek Philippe caliber 315 203 S QA LU. It is built with 35 jewels and features a straight-line lever escapement. It beats at 21,600 VPH or 3 Hz. The free-sprung Gyromax balance is adjusted to heat, cold, isochronism, and 5 positions. There’s also a shock absorbing mechanism and a self-compensating flat balance spring.
Flipping the watch offers a great view through the sapphire exhibition case back. First to catch the eye will likely be the 21k gold rotor. The movement is finished beautifully, rhodium plated with Fausses Côtes decoration. It also bears the Seal of Geneva, which indicates the quality of the calibre; this symbol represents the Watchmaking School of Geneva’s mark of approval and is regulated by law.
Versus The Competition
Wondering what other annual calendars are out there on the market? If you want something brand-spankin’ new and from within the Patek family, you could check out the lovely Patek Philippe Annual Calendar Ref. 4947/1A. It’s a bit more of a statement piece than the Wempe with its blue dial. It also sells in a similar ballpark pricewise despite being all-steel. If you’re flexible on price and are really looking for something out of the ordinary, check out A. Lange & Söhne Saxonia Annual Calendar U.S. Boutique Exclusive. It features a sexy brushed grey dial with a splash of blue from the moonphase.
So, who was the Patek Philippe Wempe 125th Anniversary made for? In my mind, it’s truly a collector’s watch. It’s limited to just 125 examples and celebrates one of the most hallowed names in the watch world. This watch likely belongs to someone with a watch case full of similar limited edition pieces, each with its own raison d’être. The watch itself isn’t flashy, per say, but beneath its subtlety is a personality of its own. And beneath that is an impressive calibre running all those complications in tandem without even breaking a sweat. Its wearer should have some of these qualities too—there’s more to him or her than meets the eye.
The Patek Philippe Wempe 125th Anniversary is a beautiful watch with a certain timeless elegance about it. Under the hood is a powerful movement that operates some highly-desirable complications. And it comes with a story to tell. What more do you need?