No, the 5170P is more like a rich grandpa with gemstone cufflinks: weird, but face-to-face you’re probably going to need to keep your opinion to yourself.The Patek Philippe 5170P is interesting because I can envision it to be way over the top for some, and rather stale in the eyes of others. On a personal note, once all is said and done, I actually think it’s simply perfect. It is, because it takes that stealth-wealth single lug-diamond and full platinum nonsense to another level by showing a number of the lion’s teeth on the front. I mean, with no diamonds and in humble increased gold, this already is a$75k view, so why don’t you allow it to live a little?Last thing worth thinking about is how there can be a certain charm to brilliantly implemented watches from big brands which still show off a bit — and also the 5170P is close to being a solid case at that. But once we speak of brilliance in implementation, reflective crystals actually shouldn’t be part of the discussion. Legibility shouldn’t be sacrificed for any reason, and that is why the baguette markers operate so well: they work to design while also being exorbitantly unnecessary and luxurious. The same cannot be said about the ruined crystal. I understand it supposedly works in the boutique, but it is an inexplicable and total fail everywhere else. It is like rocking this watch with a great tux — then walking everywhere with a blot in your lapel.In outline, I find that the 5170P to be one of the more interesting recent novelties from the brand, worth noting because it packs a quintessential Patek Philippe chronograph standard using a great dial and, due to its diamonds, “a bit of class” — as Basil Fawlty would call it. Price for the Patek Philippe 5170P chronograph in platinum is 85,000 CHF. The Patek Philippe Calatrava line of time-only watches has regularly been unfortunately relegated to live in the shadow cast from the brand’s more complicated pieces like their perpetual calendars or their instantly recognizable sport watch versions from the Nautilus and Aquanaut. Honestly, it’s understandable since demure 3-hand time just watches are a cornerstone of this line, however every now and then there are standouts that do something a little different.
Introduced in 1989 for Patek Philippe’s 150th anniversary, the Calibre 89 was a landmark in watchmaking, becoming the most complicated watch (or rather portable timekeeper) ever made, boasting 33 complications. Though the Calibre has since been superseded by the Vacheron Constantin Ref. 57260 with 57 complications, the Calibre 89 held the record for so long it’s significantly more well known.
Originally produced as a set of four watches, one each in white, yellow and rose gold, as well as platinum, the quartet of Calibre 89s were originally said to have been bought by Prince Jefri, the Sultan of Brunei’s spendthrift brother. After the the Prince’s investment empire collapsed under a mountain of debt in the late 1990s, many of his possessions were sold, including much of his epic watch collection.
The set was subsequently split up, with each watch changing hands several times. Two notable public instances of examples being sold was when the white gold version sold for SFr6.6m in April 2004 and the yellow gold for SFr5.1m in November 2009, both having been sold at Antiquorum.
That being said, the Calibre 89 in yellow gold seems to have a hard time finding a buyer of late. Having been shopped around privately for some time – most recently it was offered last year by Christie’s via private treaty for over US$10m though offers were being taken – the watch is now part of Sotheby’s upcoming Important Watches auction in Geneva, the same sale where the Henry Graves Supercomplication sold for US$24m in 2014.
Estimated at US$6.4m to US$9.9m (SFr6.5m to SFr10m), the Calibre 89 weighs 1.1kg, or about 2.4lbs, and measures 88.2mm in diameter. A total of 1728 parts make up the entire watch, including an astonishing 24 hands and 332 screws. It will be exhibited in Dubai from March 13 to 18, followed by Hong Kong from March 31 to April 4.
Then it will be sold on May 14, 2017 at Sotheby’s sale room inside the Mandarin Oriental Geneva.