Watches and Wonders was a strong show for Patek Philippe. While a lot of attention went to their completely new watch, they also released a pair of watches with a dial color they describe as rose-gilt opaline, more commonly referred to as salmon. Today, we’ll take a closer look at the manually-wound Patek Philippe Chronograph 5172G Salmon Dial.
Chronographs have long been part of the Patek Philippe catalog, first appearing in 1924. That particular design would stand out in our eyes today, as it went with a stacked configuration, with the subdials appearing at 12 and 6, rather than the more common 9 and 3 o’clock. From that point forward, Patek relied on external sources for their chronograph movements – until 2005, that is. That year, they revealed the 5959P, a split-seconds chronograph. 2009 saw them release their own hand-wound movement (the 29-535 PS), which was the year the Ref 5170 watch was released. The 5170 had a decade-long run, until it was retired in 2019 to make way for the 5172.
The change from the 5170 to the 5172 was a noticeable one. While you might view the Patek Philippe 5170 as a dress watch, the 5172 moved things in a more casual direction. It also embraces the idea of a heritage design, going directly back to a vintage look, while giving way to modern preferences. For modernity, the case size was increased from 39mm to 41mm, stick hands were replaced with luminous syringe hands, and printed Roman numerals have been replaced by applied Arabic numbers (also luminous). We also rather like the additional luminous pips that have been placed at 4 and 8 o’clock, something not present on the 2019 version..
To bring balance to the design, there is a healthy dose of vintage looks applied to the watch. For one, just gaze upon those art deco-inspired lugs. Those look like something that would have flanked a tube-powered radio sitting on a desk, easily, and put you back into that era. Corresponding with that, pushers are simple plunge pushers (as opposed to the squared-off ones of the 5170), flanking a crown which is now slightly set into the case body.
The other major change to this specific reference of the Patek Philippe Chronograph 5172G is the salmon hue that was applied. When the watch was introduced in 2019, it appeared in a deep navy blue. This is a classic look against the white gold, and felt more modern. While salmon dials have been quite popular the last few years, we feel that its use on the dial here actually pushes the watch more towards a vintage look, achieving something watches with “faux-patina” dials only dream of attaining. In other words, this dial, combined with the other elements we referenced — along with the boxed sapphire crystal — really sets in the wearer’s mind as a watch of a bygone era.
Inside the Patek Philippe Chronograph 5172G is the manually-wound CH 29-535 PS calibre, which brings a 65-hour power reserve that belies the vintage looks of the watch. The astute eye will note that this is indeed the same movement that powered the 5170 line. If it’s not broken, why fix it? As before, this movement is made in-house and bears the Patek Philippe seal of quality. To view the movement through the exhibition caseback is to gaze upon mechanical artistry.
Being manually-wound, you’re able to view all of the major components, and it has finishing applied that makes it clear that this is a movement meant to be viewed. All of the chamfers on the components are done by hand and polished, offset by the Geneva stripes and circular graining that appears on the pieces. You will also clearly be able to see the chronograph engage, as well as the balance spring whizzing away to drive the 4Hz frequency the movement runs at.
Versus The Competition
The most obvious competition for the Patek Philippe Chronograph 5172G would be it’s predecessor, the 5170. While that would be a perfectly fine route to go, we might suggest the Patek Philippe 5370 instead. While the dial layout looks quite similar to the 5172 (due to them both using similar movements), things are taken in a more formal and modern direction with polished numerals and squared pushers. The major difference for the 5370 is that it is a split-seconds chronograph. With that pusher set into the crown, you’re able to time two things (say, two runners on a track) off of a single chronograph.
If you would prefer to go in a rather sportier direction, something like the F.P. Journe Chronographe Rattrapante is where you should shine your search light. While it still offers manually-wound split-seconds timing (like the 5370), the overall look of the watch is a sports watch, here done up in platinum rather than steel. With the lugless design, squared pushers, and large date display, this is very much a modern chronograph.
If we were to match the Patek Philippe Chronograph 5172G to a real-life person, it would be the sort that appreciates the finer things of days gone by. Perhaps not hitting the resale shops for finds, but one who embraces the idea that a well-constructed suit or dress, or welted leather shoes can last for a lifetime, and be timeless. Yes, that sort of buy-it-for-life mentality can be applied to a variety of things (even watches), but the finer dressing was chosen for a reason. You may not wear that suit or dress every day, but it’s always an option, out-wearing the years and always looking good. The Patek Philippe Chronograph 5172G can serve in much the same way, maybe not as an every-day wear, but always ready to be called upon.
Of course, if you’re looking for that sort of timeless watch, there are a great many different directions you could go, complications to appreciate, and even designs to gravitate towards. For us, the Patek Philippe Chronograph 5172G well and truly captures the aesthetic of a vintage chronograph, with necessary nods to modernity and watch-building capabilities. There’s nouveau vintage, and then there are watches like these that give that look and do so effortlessly, all without actually having to give itself that label. It looks of a bygone era, yet still works today – and it will no doubt be the same story decades from now.