The inspiration for the modern Patek Philippe.....DNA is everything

Oct 12, 2017,07:27 AM
 

When we look at new models released by Patek Philippe, more often than not the inspiration for the new model comes from a prior reference. From my perspective, to really understand a modern watch one needs to see how it evolved. Take, for example, the 5070 chronograph. When I was at the museum a couple of years ago, the Reference 2512 was highlighted as being the inspiration for the 5070. The 5070 was Patek's first simple manual would chronograph for over 40 years. The introduction of the watch was seen as a very bold move. In the following image, I combine the Reference 2512 split second (believed to be a unique version) and the 5070J, which can be said to be the most directly-related model of the four 5070 metals.

The DNA is not stolen from the past, but borrowed. Look how the sub-indices cut into the numerals. Look at the style of the bezel. The pushers. Yellow gold and black dial. It really is borrowing heavily from the DNA of the past. I thought the above image was fun to reproduce just to show it. Modern Patek Philippe watches are more than the sum of their parts because of the history on which the watches are built. That history plays a big part in giving a watch its character and personality. Patek have been at the horological top table for most of the last 100 years. So, when a modern watch is developed, it owes its perceived status to that rich heritage.


For me, when we look at modern watches and decide to call them "better"  or whatever comparative is used, i think we miss the point. Recently, a member here described the 5970 as having a relatively mundane appearance. Its movement was described as relatively uninteresting. Further, it was argued that to go for a 5970 the only reason would be the correct scaling at 18000 beats. To be honest, I think these type of comparatives are slightly inuslting, blinkered and totally missing the point. The 5970 derives its appearance from the 1518 and to some extent the 2499. Patek, themselves, describe the 5970 as a watch with cult status. It has that status, I believe, because the history upon which it was built is so rich. When Patek developed the perpetual calendar chronograph, it led the industry. Indeed, both 2499 and 1518 are still considered by many as essentially the most perfect watches ever made. To have had that durability is quite something. Understanding how history has shaped a watch, then, becomes quite relevant when that history is as important as that of Patek Philippe.


My point here is that many of Patek Philippe's modern watches exist solely because they are an evolution of the past - in the same way that the DB11 is an evolution of the DB5. The DB11 is faster. Safer. With technology and build quality that is far superior to its grandfather.  Yet, to make the leap and call it "better" is not something that one does readily.


Instead, perhaps, we should embrace both modern and vintage as inseperable and almost beyond comparatives. Rather than derogation of one or the other, perhaps mutual appreciation of the process of how a modern watch evolved would be a better approach. Each of us has our own "truth" about what a watch should be. That individual "truth" should never be mistaken for a generalised truth.





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Great post J. And of course you are bang on the money.

 
 By: Miles_151 : October 12th, 2017-07:40
Good read and you are correct the 5970 is....has always been and will always be Iconic. "Iconic" Words from the man himself 5070 and 5970 even with their boring dials and inferior re worked Lemania based movements marked with the crappy Geneva seal will b... 

Very valuable insight

 
 By: Thomahof : October 12th, 2017-07:56
And for the most part I agree! But it must be said that the person who described the 5970 in the manner you refer to did so in a specific context,namely to give advice to someone (me) who explicitly asked for buying advice between that watch and the 5170P... 

and like i said....

 
 By: Baron - Mr Red : October 12th, 2017-08:09
one can be positive about one watch without having to denigrate another. So often, statements are made as "absolute truths" whereas in fact, there are very few absolute truths. If the only way of giving buying advice is to denigrate one of the watches bei... 

Confession time :)))

 
 By: Ares501 Mr Green : October 12th, 2017-09:17
5070J is and has become my favorite modern PP and for more than a year now I think...let the trashing begin ...but it's my truth and I ain't ashamed of it...having said that I would never make a statement about other PP reference in a way I think of them ... 

I will not apologize for asking for advice from people who are more knowledgeable than me

 
 By: Thomahof : October 12th, 2017-11:40
Hovewer, it does not mean that I NEED the advice in order to make decisions. I think "this or that" threads are very entertaining, and that we all can learn things from them that we did not know before. I think this goes particularly for members who are f... 

No need to apologize neither it was asked for but as you said---

 
 By: Ares501 Mr Green : October 12th, 2017-11:50
you don't NEED the advice.... yet you ask for it.....

Yes, I do

 
 By: Thomahof : October 12th, 2017-12:05
Because I think that systematic reflection about watches is central to the forum. For that to happen somebody need to ask the the good (or stupid) questions 😄

No question is stupid there are just stupid answers and...

 
 By: Ares501 Mr Green : October 12th, 2017-12:26
pointless questions...

Thank you.

 
 By: Padj : October 12th, 2017-12:41
You've defined my job to a "T".

I can assure from personal experience that many of the most experienced and knowledgeable watch collectors in the World will

 
 By: patekova : October 12th, 2017-12:10
seek the advice/opinions of others on prospective acquisitions, including "Should I buy X or Y". They know the watches literally inside and out and all the history but sometimes another person's perspective resonates in a significant way. Never a need to ... 

Let's make and mind game here

 
 By: Ares501 Mr Green : October 12th, 2017-12:50
You are experienced and knowledgeable watch collector in the World ...you know watches literally inside and out and all the history ...but you ask for advice on watch A and B. Watch A sings to you watch B is something that based on your knowledge and expe... 

If torn ...then do PuristS way...take both ;) [nt]

 
 By: Ares501 Mr Green : October 12th, 2017-12:58
No message body

If you weren't

 
 By: Padj : October 12th, 2017-13:17
you certainly now are a full-fledged Vlad.

Just a humble servant ;) [nt]

 
 By: Ares501 Mr Green : October 12th, 2017-14:42

If I can participate D, I would say there are 2 kind of ingredients

 
 By: Mark in Paris : October 12th, 2017-14:08
The first one is what one likes and what sings to us. People must indeed not get too much influenced by others' tastes. That's why I posted not long ago about what we see or read in our daily media among which PuristSPro and that can influence us. It is g... 

Thanks for your musings Mark...

 
 By: Ares501 Mr Green : October 12th, 2017-14:21
I agree..... I learned..I read...and I learned again and read again...and I'm still learning and reading...guess it all boils down to ... there are known knowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we kn... 

So true :) Thanks D. [nt]

 
 By: Mark in Paris : October 12th, 2017-15:33

"People must indeed not get too much influenced by others' tastes."

 
 By: cayenne1200 : October 13th, 2017-00:32
I am fully signing this quote from your statement, Mark. But as a matter of fact I must admit that the discussions on this forum do influence - and also enrich - my view on watches from time to time. For instance, I am not a big fan of the 5070 for differ... 

Cayenne1200.....

 
 By: Baron - Mr Red : October 13th, 2017-01:15
I think your process is good. I think we all learn and move forward when immersed in constructive and objective discussion. It is how a good forum should work and it leads to better decision-making. Good luck with the 5070 evaluation.....at teh end of teh... 

It is an interesting point....

 
 By: Baron - Mr Red : October 12th, 2017-14:02
.....if i was considering buying a high-end watch, would i ask the opinion of others? I would say for the most of my watches, I probably would not. I think I know my own mind and tastes well enough to not need to do so. However, as you state well, when on... 

Indeed!

 
 By: thomaspp : October 12th, 2017-11:28
Everything starts from something else... that's part of the reason why many of us come back to the brand time and time again. 5070 is such a legend!

Watches with lemania movements

 
 By: beejo : October 12th, 2017-11:47
Have so much character in my books,The 5070 is clearly borrowing the DNA from Patek’s history,And I think the watch is in great demand as we all can see. As for the 5970,Is one of the best perpetual calendars with modern proportions,The movement isn’t a c... 

It is clear. For some other watches, the inspiration is lighter. World Times, for example.

 
 By: amanico : October 12th, 2017-12:07
You have some elements of style, such as the hands, nut not much more.. Except... The charm, and the spirit. It is something shared with some other brands... JLC for example. I have no problem seeing this link between past and present. At the contrary. As... 

Great and wise post! I would love to add something of value to what you wrote, but frankly I can't think of a single thing. All I can say is THANKS! [nt]

 
 By: patekova : October 12th, 2017-12:13
On a different note, a 46mm time only version of Ref 2512 sold at Sotheby's NY in December of 2012. Amazing, amazing watch in every way. It was an extreme pleasure to strap it on. Someone (not me) acquired an extraordinary watch.

Joe , in medicine we are taught "the ontology recapitulates the phylogeny"

 
 By: watch-guy.com : October 12th, 2017-12:51
In other words we are what we were , with obvious modifications In the watch world ( and most other spheres of life ( this remains a truism ) Looking at the PP museum we can see where the present collection has evolved from Even the most recent 5522 has i... 

You and I resonate a fair bit on watches....

 
 By: Baron - Mr Red : October 12th, 2017-14:06
.....possibly too much!

The 5070J black dial is spectacular

 
 By: Joepny : October 12th, 2017-14:39
Agree very much about how at the upper echelon of watchmaking like Patek Philippe, there is a great deal to be appreciated when the whole far exceeds the sum of the parts. The result of perhaps world class skills & execution and also a part played by a st... 

Absoluteluy and totally agree....

 
 By: Baron - Mr Red : October 13th, 2017-01:21
......the guideline for etiquette on the forum is "how would you act if meeting someone for the first time at a cocktail party". One can be objective, factual, respectful, knowledgable etc etc and it does not need to cross the line to rudeness of any kind... 

What I find interesting in watches is that they are related to their time very much

 
 By: Mark in Paris : October 12th, 2017-15:32
They express, as in many art fields, the standards and philosophy of their time. That's why, for me the movement issue is not about better or worse. They all work well, within similar standards considering a mechanical watch is not very accurate. A good w... 

Mark....

 
 By: Baron - Mr Red : October 13th, 2017-01:24
.....you take my DB5 v DB11 comparison too literally. I am merely making a bigger point that a car from a vintage era cannot be readily compared with a modern rendition of the same car. That is the bigger point. One cannot use words like "better" too read... 

Great post and discussion - thank you! This is a fatastic example of how accumulation of knowledge can lead to deeper appeciation. Yet following narratives is not always easy ...

 
 By: als1678 : October 12th, 2017-18:48
PP is not the company that it was 20, 30, let alone 50 years ago. The scale, the customer base, the global market penetration make it a completely different animal. Mr Thierry Stern has the incredibly hard job of managing a (mostly) large production high-... 

...........

 
 By: Baron - Mr Red : October 13th, 2017-01:37
We can all disagree about watches.....thankfully. Taste and preferences are such fickle beasts. We all differ in how we view a watch and its importance and attraction. To me, what is important is very specific to me. That is why there really cannot be any... 

Yep.....let’s keep it that way!

 
 By: Baron - Mr Red : October 13th, 2017-02:17
On 2512 split seconds, I believe it is 46mm but would need to check.

I've checked. 46 mm or correct.

 
 By: cayenne1200 : October 13th, 2017-03:43
No message body

My bad....46.2mm [nt]

 
 By: Baron - Mr Red : October 13th, 2017-03:47

No real disagreement here.

 
 By: als1678 : October 13th, 2017-04:07
Choices are very personal and there might not universal truth but that doesn't mean that we should not seek it Your essay was a great example of history and knowledge playing role in the way we appreciate watches. My main point was that we should be also ... 

i think we seem to agree on most if not all of this....

 
 By: Baron - Mr Red : October 13th, 2017-04:16
.....platinum is a rarer metal than gold in terms of supply (but clearly not demand), but rarity is not everything....gold has traded over platinum in price terms for several years now. So yes, there are plenty of anomalies that deserve exploring. And yes...