Repeat, Perpetual and Tourbillon: the 5016 from Patek Philippe

Patek Philippe ref 5016P with platinum case
Patek Philippe ref 5016P with platinum case

From 1993 to 2001 it was the most complicated wristwatch made by Patek Philippe, while in 2015 it became the king of auction adjudications for some time: the Patek Philippe ref. 5016. 

When it was introduced in 1993, Reference 5016 became the most complicated watch ever produced by the Geneva-based company: its minute repeater, perpetual calendar with retrograde date, and tourbillon device visible only by turning the watch made it a Grand Complication that was difficult to imitate, so much so that it would have to wait until 2001 to pass the scepter to Ref. 5002 Sky Moon Tourbillon.

 

The 5016 was produced in yellow, white, and rose gold, as well as from 1999 in platinum (pictured on these pages), with silvered or black dials and the distinctive feature of the serial number stamped at the bottom, where we find continuous seconds and the moon phase window. Its production stops in 2011 and is estimated to have numbered about 200 total pieces, more or less one per month.

Records for this watch include a 5016 one-off from 2015, which went to the Only Watch charity auction organized by PHILLIPS and fetched a remarkable CHF 7.3 million, becoming for a short time, the most expensive wristwatch ever sold at auction.

 

The movement is hand-wound Patek Philippe caliber R TO 27 PS QR,
The movement is hand-wound Patek Philippe caliber R TO 27 PS QR,

 

Also worth highlighting is how the retrograde perpetual calendar function was rarely used in Patek Philippe wristwatches, appearing only in a few models of the modern era, including the 5050, 5059, 5159 and 5160, all launched "after" the ref. 5016. 

Recall that in retrograde date displays, the date hand "jumps" back to the first day of the month, depending on whether the month has 28, 29, 30 or 31 days. The immediate return action of the hand is achieved using a helical spring and a sophisticated rebound-limiting mechanism developed by the Geneva-based company. The movement is a hand-wound Patek Philippe caliber R TO 27 PS QR, based on the 1989 R27 with the important addition of the tourbillon and perpetual calendar system, for a total of 506 individual components.

 

The diamond is the element that characterizes all platinum cases made by Patek Philippe
The diamond is the element that characterizes all platinum cases made by Patek Philippe

 

The 37-mm case is very traditional in terms of size, but its 13-mm thickness nonetheless gives it an important physicality, while the diamond between the lugs immediately reminds us that platinum was used in its making. The dial is polished black with applied white gold Breguet numerals and white gold dots for the minute scale. 

The retrograde date is in white as is the corresponding luminescent leaf hand. Note the "observatory" style hour and minute hands, designed in such a way that they do not completely cover the date numerals when passing over them. In the center of the dial is a large white printed logo prominently displayed, and in the moon phase indicator at six o'clock is the inscription "Tourbillon," a reminder of one of the most important special features of this movement. Windows with a black-on-white background located at 9, 12, and 3 o'clock indicate the day, leap year, and month, respectively.

 

The inside of the case back
The inside of the case back

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