Even after we spent quite some time with watches, I noticed we often miss out on cases’ details. Especially considering what they precisely offer for someone who loves craftsmanship and how brands create appealing aesthetics. The case profile is all about what makes a watch’s attractiveness, whether for aesthetical reasons or for what it says about the effort and skills that was put in its designing and crafting execution.
It is because of such well chosen details that an object is better in the end.
Nowadays, brands often promote their watches through a size increase: thicker case, huge lugs, width starting over 42mm etc… This is even true for some traditional high-end watches following this easier path.
Patek Philippe, among all the brands we are used to getting interested in, are maybe the ones who kept that smaller size. It is even true for complicated watches (cf. the Minute-Repeaters history article). They are certainly the ones who performed a subtle and very interesting work on their case shapes the most, especially with such wide diversity. This is something we tend to overlook because of their discretion and refinement but this is a very important topic.
Hence, I always found that exploring Patek’s cases, from the lugs to the bezels, was one of the most interesting exercise. It indeed teaches a lot about what they do (and “how”) on that time consuming matter (explaining also a part of price differences). It is about grooves, round curves, inner angles, open-worked lugs, engraved pushers, gaudrons décoration, polishing squared shapes, making a complicated watch look thinner etc…
Consequently, it also highlights what the others don’t do. The dial, though it is the first thing we have a look at when holding a watch, isn’t necessarily the only main thing to look at and can even lead to miss what can make a difference between brands.
A watch’s appeal and sensuality often take their origin in the case itself.
Patek is usually about subtlety. The interest we can get from a watch can be something we don’t guess where it is coming from. That’s why I love looking closely at the whole case side as it helps enjoying this hobby of ours a different way.
The Profile tells a lot from a watch design and crafting, so let’s have a look at the diversity and interests of Patek’s 2019 novelties profiles.
Of course, there are many more in the last 20 years you can have a look at. Just to mention a few, the 5975, 5227 or 5070 could be added for instance.
Have a nice read!
6300G Grandmaster Chime
This masterpiece (coming from the 5175 Grandmaster Chime) has one of my favourite case aesthetics (as long as one likes the “clous de Paris” pattern, which is my case, reminding elegant 1950’s lighters’ decoration).
5078G Minute Repeater
In this model, the case also has to take into account how the sound will be transmitted from the gongs to the outside.
Contrasting with the majority of today’s models, we can notice its rounder curves at every levels. Yet, it isn’t excessive. The symmetry or more precisely the balance from the top side to the back, in 3 layers, is looking like perfection.
Even the glass smoothly coming up the bezel’s top is finely tuned.
5520P Alarm Travel Time
As with the 5078, the case design has to take into account the sound propagation (as it is based on a Minute Repeater sound mechanism).
After I saw it in the metal, I’d like to underline the gorgeous new 5172G’s style. It borrows the 5320G’s case, built a little differently (not stamped as they modified the crafting process because of its size), with the same added 3-tiered lugs. These stepped lugs require some sure skill from the polishers in order to preserve the edges.
This is what I talked about earlier: keeping the aesthetics, even if requiring more time, care and mastery (thus more expensive). Clearly, for many cases, this kind of difficulty is something the brand accepts to invest on.
Compared to the 5320, the pushers make a very important addition: this is a stunning overall work to admire in the metal if you can.
5212A Calatrava Weekly Calendar
5231J Enamel World Time
Surprisingly, this 5231J looks less angular from the profile than what it looks from the front side. Certainly that the round glass takes its part in this impression.
5235R Annual Calendar “Regulator”
From a first look, this 5235R pure design case looks quite simple. However, you can notice the very nice “V”-shaped gap between the bezel edge and the case that is different from the other profiles I gathered here. Again, this isn’t random but a volunteer choice after comparing different versions on drawings. This is exactly the kind of details that we won’t notice but that give another “taste” to a watch (as long as we have a good magnifying glass though!).
The alternate polished and brushed parts are also of high interest. For instance, it isn’t just a 100% polished bezel and a 100% brushed caseband. It alternates both finishing techniques on each of them. Again, not the easier way, but clearly the most interesting.
You can notice additionally the shorter lugs (more inclined) because of a wider case, in order to limit the overall diameter. Still, attention to details.
5905R Annual Calendar Chronograph
A work to limit the visual thickness at every level: the concave bezel, the lugs’ grooved side… It looks quite chunkier than the other profiles but beautiful looking nevertheless in the metal. That’s a romantic design I loved already in the 5205.
5726/1A Nautilus Annual Calendar
Just a work of art imho, like the Royal Oak. However, the best side of the case is clearly to me on the front side (and its bracelet!).
A beautiful ladies Calatrava, entirely diamond-set (cf. the article of the 4978).