The Calatrava Ref. 5116, with its calm, plain enamel face.

Sep 14, 2020,10:27 AM

[Credit of the following text to Patek's official site: ]

A limited production watch, the pure white parchment of the hand-fired, true enamel dial has a matchless clarity and the luminosity of vellum. Against it, the black Roman numerals of this particular model are stately and robust.

Enameling, often used by Patek Philippe to decorate cases and dials, is one of the most high-risk of the rare handcrafts. The precarious fusing of powdered glass at ultra-high temperatures can produce heartbreaking disasters but, when successful, the result is luminous beauty, from designs in radiant, jewel-bright colors that will never dull, to lustrous, gently traditional looks.

Over time, this delicate skill has become an endangered one – but not at Patek Philippe, where it has been preserved and nurtured and is used to create breathtakingly lovely pieces (taking anything from several hours to several weeks – or even several months for miniature painting).

The technique involves grinding colored glass or enamel pigments to a talc-like powder, mixing it with water or oil (Patek Philippe usually uses lavender oil), and painting the resulting paste meticulously (sometimes using a brush as fine as a single hair) onto a prepared metal surface. Once dry, the paste is fired in a kiln at temperatures of around 850°C, so that the powdered glass or pigment melts to form a new, impregnable surface and fuses to the metal base.

Dozens of firings may be needed as multiple layers are built up; a coat or two of transparent enamel adds a final depth and brilliance. Because colors can alter during firing, the enamelist must be not just an artist but an alchemist and visionary, able to calculate how the pigments will interact and accurately imagine the finished hues in advance.

The enameler uses one or a combination of age-old techniques – cloisonné, champlevé, paillonné, and miniature painting. For more on each of these complex procedures, see our Rare Handcrafts section.

This message has been edited by FabR on 2020-09-14 11:02:03

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Thanks for sharing a simple but great piece! The 5116 was in fact one of the first enamel Pateks I saw in the metal, triggering my interest in their marvelous rare handcraft production! ;-)

 By: FabR : September 14th, 2020-10:42
It wasn't technically offered as a limited edition, but obviously the production was in very small quantities due to the special dials. Too bad it left the collection several years ago! ;-) To give due credit to Patek, please refer to the source where you... 

Yes - I should have footnoted! [nt]

 By: CrookedOak : September 14th, 2020-10:56

👍Done. [nt]

 By: FabR : September 14th, 2020-11:03

Beautiful watch 👍 [nt]

 By: FRAMII : September 14th, 2020-11:01

A classic Patek Calatrava with a tastefully done....

 By: GLau : September 14th, 2020-11:54
enamel dial ! The Clous de paris bezel is icing on top of a great watch ! 👍

Big fan of the hobnail bezel...

 By: mdg : September 14th, 2020-12:13 would have been great had they also offered this with a 240 movement...

Indeed, though a couple of years ago Patek did introduce a new reference (5177) that includes all of the above: enamel, hobnail bezel, and 240 movement.

 By: FabR : September 14th, 2020-14:12
If I'm not mistaken, the 5177 is the first Patek rare handcraft reference featuring all three of those characteristics. We had 4 declinations of it, all in G gold (the three "Italian themes", including my Boccadasse, and then the "Chart of the Caribbean",...  

Never been a fan of paintings on a dial, not matter how well they are done...

 By: mdg : September 14th, 2020-15:08
I guess that leaves me with the 5120 or 5039 perpetual...not terrible consolations : )

No worries...probably can't afford them...

 By: mdg : September 14th, 2020-15:33
...and even if I could, I doubt PP would sell them to me : )

Simple but special piece [nt]

 By: Metachronous : September 14th, 2020-13:53

a bezel to die for ... [nt]

 By: Passionata_george : September 14th, 2020-14:06